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Language and translation in FFXII

I think the localization team for XII deserves some sort of literary award--oh my GODS the language, the language in that game.

I'm wondering what they were working from, that they churned out lines like, "And so I sue for peace to stop short war and ease their suffering," or "Yet at a trice he goes bounding off for you!" for one of the bounty hunter thugs. Best of all, "Spare us your quiddities." 

Also, the Occuria. Generic godlike annoying beings are such a trope, but epic amounts of iambic tetrameter in a video game? Whoa.

We see your heart desires power,
and power most holy shall we grant.
Seek you the Sun-cryst, slumb'ring star.
In tower on distant shore it dreams.
The mother of all nethicite,
the source of its unending power.
The Dynast-King, his fallow shards,
coarse trinkets cut from Sun-cryst's light.
In times that are long passed away,
we thought to save this Ivalice...
and chose Raithwall the Dynast-King.
He took the sword and cut the Cryst.
Three Shards he took from its gilt grasp.
His words and deeds run through your veins.
The treaty held with kings of old
is but a mem'ry, cold and still.
With you we now shall treat anew,
to cut a run for hist'ry's flow.


And so on, and so forth. It's the gift that just keeps giving. Like Maechen, the exposition on a platter would've been insufferable, if they hadn't been spewing out these gloriously overdone lines.

Then there's Ondore's Revisionist History serving as the narrative bridge. Ondore and his "I was but a humble servant of Peace" memoirs, ha. The capital letters make it especially fun. His language style -- I haven't bothered to identify it (18th century?), and maybe it never existed in our world, but it's very effective.

So, here's the question. Was there any of this antiquarianism in the Japanese? Archaic speaking styles, poetic forms? Or did the English translation team just have a couple of frustrated literature majors running amok? 
 

Comments

( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
heavenscalyx
Jul. 12th, 2010 05:31 pm (UTC)
When I read your notes about FF12, I contemplate going back and trying to play it again, especially because I was very fond of Big Gay Balthier. But I'm not sure I can cope with Fran or the Princess, alas.

(Although, speaking of tiny outfits, I note that you might should read my flocked post about original Trek today.)
auronlu
Jul. 12th, 2010 11:09 pm (UTC)
Fran suffers from Lulu syndrome: the strong, intelligent, powerful woman has to be dressed up in a Tits & Ass outfit to render her more palatable. Then again, I always go for the elf character with mysterious magical foo and Ancient Wisdom (tm).

And then there's the fanservice. I am embarrassed that it works on me. Though not when it's attached to an annoying character like LeBlanc.

Big Gay Balthier is fabulous (I gave him the Dawn Shard for quite a while; I loved seeing him in purple), and certain segments of fandom have taught me to read Basch/Vossler as the main canonical ship, which makes it much more amusing.

I wish I liked Ashe. I just...don't. But I realized I don't have to like the game or story and like every character. I appreciate that she is strong (despite the dumbtastic hot red shorts), political, ruthless, and is not a wilting damsel in distress or love interest for the hero. She just...isn't very likeable, either.

I'm not sure if you'd like the game again. It's...difficult in spots. I can understand why it wouldn't work for everybody.

ETA: Great icon.

Edited at 2010-07-12 11:13 pm (UTC)
paperclipchains
Jul. 12th, 2010 06:57 pm (UTC)
This type of archaic translation started with Vagrant Story, an earlier entry in the Ivalice series. The Japanese version had no archaic version, all of that (and presumeably the shakespearean names) were added for the English version. I don't know if they switched to archaic language in the Japanese since, but I do know that it started with the English version, and is now running through all of the Ivalice series.
auronlu
Jul. 12th, 2010 11:12 pm (UTC)
Aaah. Danke. I figured other folks out there would know.

Very interesting.

It's funny. There are some things that seem so integral to certain FF games, and yet they really aren't -- it's only in translation that Summons Beasts are called Espers or Aeons or whatever, right? And the last thing Yuna says to Tidus in the original version is arigato, which pops up a few times in the sequel in important ways.
brightonrocker
Jul. 12th, 2010 09:26 pm (UTC)
YES. Entirely true, I fell in love with the dialogue from the beginning, and that's what got me through the learning curve on the battle system. I'd go farther into that, but I don't want to spoil it for those who haven't played, and I would end up going off the original topic.
auronlu
Jul. 12th, 2010 11:41 pm (UTC)
*tries to yap about game in general enough terms so as not to spoil it*

Oddly, once they gave me gambits, I was perfectly happy. I have arthritic fingers, so I either need a game system like FFX where it waits for me to fumble, or one where I can pre-program behavior. KH had too much of the secondary characters' actions out of my control, so I didn't identify with them as much. This "program the actions yourself, and seize manual control when you want" system works for me.

Which means no game will ever have it again. :P

Edited at 2010-07-12 11:42 pm (UTC)
euphonious_glow
Jul. 12th, 2010 09:34 pm (UTC)
Hahahaha, YES. FFXII is my second favorite, after X. I love the language (although, is it just me, or does the voice acting sound weird? Muffled, or something). I love the different accents. I love the sense of history. I love traveling around such gorgeous environments.

And as someone said above, Balthier and his hot sexual ambiguity.

Not to mention Basch/Ashe is one of my favorite FF relationships.

I like Ondore's historical interludes. They remind me of Dune a little bit, with the quotes from the princess that start every chapter. He's a fun character (and hot, but that's just me).

Too bad I still need to finish it.
auronlu
Jul. 12th, 2010 11:02 pm (UTC)
I have problems with the end of FFXII; there's some draggy bits, and there's one particular boss battle that annoys me simply because I dislike the graphics (to avoid spoilers, it's one of Squeenix's classic "now we must mutate the boss to make it more impressive" transformations, and I hate the effect). But it's still worth finishing.

FFXII feels flawed -- I think it was such a huge project, there are imperfections, things that may have looked good on the drawing board but didn't have the same pop as some of the earlier games in execution (then again, FFVIII did a lousy job of developing Esthar, just as XII doesn't have enough time to do Rozarria justice or it would be ten times longer). But it has much that is great and fun.

Ashe and Bash is very intriguing indeed.

I just wish the monsters had normal heads. DAMMIT SQUEENIX, I want my monsters to be pretty and sparkly while they're trying to kill me!

Edited at 2010-07-12 11:04 pm (UTC)
haku_kaen
Jul. 12th, 2010 10:04 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that's all on Alexander O. Smith and Joseph Reeder.

Have you noticed that Venat speaks in iambic pentameter instead of tetrameter? He's such a rebel he won't even talk like the rest of them. *g*
auronlu
Jul. 12th, 2010 10:59 pm (UTC)
OOOO! Cool. No, I had not noticed! That's great.

When I was writing this post I Googled to verify I wasn't imagining it, and saw a Wiki post claiming the Occuria all talk in iambic pentameter. I thought, "That's funny; I coulda sworn it was tetrameter," and found a script to check. But i wasn't looking at Venat's lines.

I'm such a voice junkie; I'll forgive so much if a game, book or movie plays around with language and voices.
lassarina
Jul. 13th, 2010 12:41 am (UTC)
That's pretty much O. Smith, as far as I know. I believe he also translated Vagrant Story, I know he did FF9, and I suspect he or one of his students handled the remake of Tactics for the PSP. But yes, Ivalician language. I love writing for this fandom because it lets me revel in delicious, delicious language.
shahrizai
Jul. 13th, 2010 02:20 pm (UTC)
He did FFX too. And depending on your opinion, it can be a good or bad thing he was the voice director as well.
vieralynn
Jul. 13th, 2010 03:19 am (UTC)
Yes, everything that has already been said. The Japanese version uses more colloquial lang and makes use of the gradiations of Japanese formal - informal grammar to convey class differences. As much as I like the English "translation" very very very much, it makes the characters feel much less emotional, although some of that may also be dIfferences in voice acting too. Some of the heart/soul was lost in translation.
auronlu
Jul. 13th, 2010 12:31 pm (UTC)
Oh, that's a shame. I think the lack of emotion is why I and a lot of people failed to warm up to this game entirely. Good to know.

Class differences: there's most definitely a nuance that's fallen out of all of them, though I remember picking up Yuna's bowing to Wakka as a bit deeper than he was comfortable with, or maybe I read that wrong. I assume we lost an entire layer of stuff with Vaan and Pen interacting with the others, and-- maybe-- Balthier's ambiguity?
samuraiter
Jul. 13th, 2010 11:59 am (UTC)
There are times when a unique localization is a distinct improvement. The Lunar games (on PS1) are one key instance, and this is another, despite the other faults of the game. :-)
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