Opinion Prone

My opinions, let me tell them to you.

Posts Tagged ‘ language ’

You’ve noticed it. Those series’ titles, those band names, and those Japanese celebrities with very particular spellings.

CANAAN is CANAAN, all caps, and not Canaan. LUCKYSTAR has that star in the middle if you can manage to remember the keyboard code for it. LoveCom has a different star, though many will make do with Love*Com. s-CRY-ed is not Scryed. NieA_7 is not anything but. Baccano! has an exclamation mark. L’Arc~en~Ciel is L’Arc~en~Ciel and not L’arc-en-ciel or Larc en ciel. They are tildes, not hyphens, and make sure you capitalize that ‘a’. Dir en grey fans spot the new and the ignorant by chastising those that write Dir en Grey or, heaven forbid, Dir En Grey. Yoshitoshi ABe always has that ‘b’ capitalized; he is never Yoshitoshi Abe. Someone once told me that hyde, the vocalist for L’Arc~en~Ciel, is spelt in unassuming lowercase when associated with that particular band, but spelt as HYDE when associated with his solo work. This doesn’t always seem to be the case, but that’s one hell of a confusing thing to remember, huh?

You're doing it wrong!

You're doing it wrong!

Being a grammar nazi and supremely anal retentive in general, of course I always do my best to ensure I’m spelling things the way they were intended to be spelt, but sometimes, it’s just a pain in the ass, and sometimes, it’s just impossible to tell.

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I wonder if anyone’s actually polled the percentage of otaku that have at some point tried to learn Japanese. I wonder what a follow-up of such a poll would reveal about the percentage that actually attain some level of fluency. Anyone who watches subs on a regular or even semi-regular basis will be able to pick up a wide variety of everyday phrases and a decent slice of vocabulary. The observant ones might even be able to pick up some simple sentence structuring, verbs, and grammar. It’s a pretty awesome thing when you first realize that, hey, you know a bit of another language.

Undoubtedly, that’s why a lot of younger fans will insert bits and pieces of what they know into their speech or text online. It’s like a secret language, something esoteric to share between friends, and everybody likes thinking they’re special. Like Pig Latin though, the language is actually not so secret, or at the very least, the popular tidbits of the language that young fans like to parrot are not so secret, and they tend to annoy everybody over a certain age. Ostracized and mocked by the rest of the community, the young fans reach a point where they stop tacking -chan and -kun after all their friends’ names. There is a brief “maturing” period. And then they decide that they’re going to knuckle down and learn Japanese… for real this time.

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So in Code Geass, Emperor Charles zi Britannia is obviously British because Britannia is a glorified, alternate-universe Britain. Thus he has an English name. Makes sense. Since it’s a Japanese show though, they have to transliterate the English name into Japanese, and Charles becomes シャルル (Sharuru). This has always bothered me. I just don’t see the connection between “Charles” and “Sharuru.” Of course I understand that many foreign words translated into Japanese sound strange because of their limited phonetic alphabet, and most of the time, I’d say they do pretty okay. But in this case, I’m thoroughly convinced that they could have picked a better transliteration with the sounds that they have. チャルズ (Charuzu), for example — not worlds different, but different enough to be closer, right?

Further, “Sharuru” seems to be some kind of universally accepted Japanese version of “Charles” because Code Geass was not the only series where I heard the transliteration. Who decided that “Charles” should be “Sharuru”? If someone else decided that they wanted to transliterate it as “Charuzu,” would they be wrong? Are there multiple ways to import a name into another language?

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Review: Lovely Complex

April 21, 2009 Review 6 Comments

I still need to write reviews for Soul Eater and Gundam 00 S2, but I still don’t feel like writing either. So instead, here is a review for the Lovely Complex anime, which I finished last night because it is adorable. Sickeningly adorable. The premise is exceedingly simple, the characters somewhat predictable, and the animation is all over the place, but damned if it isn’t an extremely well done series despite all that. I really want to check out the manga and the live action movie now.

Baww, shoujo. Damn the genre for being so appropriate for adaptation into live action because there are so many series I want to check out now (still need to hunt down the Nodame Cantabile dramas). If the first NANA movie is any indication of how awesome these adaptations can be (granted, I haven’t seen the anime nor read the manga in that case), then I’m pretty sure the Nodame and Love★Com are at least worth checking out.

I discovered whilst looking up some information for the review that most of the characters in Love★Com speak in a Kansai/Osaka dialect. What followed was a gigantic “no wonder!” kind of epiphany. I am simultaneously proud of and endlessly amused at the fact that I noticed something was off about the way they were speaking — sure, it would be LOL OBVIOUS to someone with better knowledge of the language, but for a weeaboo, I’d say just noticing at all isn’t bad. :P The easiest indications were the replacement of “aho” for “baka,” which I also noticed in BECK way back when, and “na” for “ne.” The second easiest was the substituion of “chau” for “chigau” because the dialect apparently likes to contract the hell out of everything (which makes a lot more sense than whatever the hell Shanghainese does to Mandarin!).

Purusing through this list, I spotted a good number of other things that I noticed, including “denna” for “desu ne” though I believe Seiko and a few others still used “desu ne.” Actually, I also noticed that a lot of things on that list didn’t actually show up. Otani definitely never used “wai” in place of “ore,” and Risa never used “wate” in place of “watashi” or “atashi.” I really love first person pronouns in Japanese (they’re so much fun and can say so much about certain characters!), so I’d have probably noticed much faster if those had been swapped out. Also unmentioned on the list is “-chi” as an affectionate suffix, though I don’t know that much about it either way — why did they only use it for Nakao? And why did both Risa and Nobuko use it?

Fun times, Japanese. I should just get off my ass and learn it some day. I might be going there in December. Maybe that can be some motivation.

Japanese Sound Effects

November 8, 2008 Editorial 3 Comments

So I was working on my final for Sequential Art. It wasn’t a sudden realization or anything — I’ve thought about this a few times before — but it occurred to me again that the Japanese have the most ridiculous sound effects ever. Seriously, they have sound effects for pretty much everything, including things and actions and events that… don’t make any sounds. This is a far, far cry from sound effects in American comics (and perhaps European comics? I really have no idea since I don’t read any) where half the sound effects are just the verb they’re trying to describe, like “scratch scratch” or “stomp stomp.” As such, I’ve found it to be very, very frustrating trying to incorporate sound effects into my own comics because there just aren’t that many to choose from, and it kind of feels stupid using verbs as onomatopoeias when they obviously aren’t.

Of course, there are some American artists that will use Japanese katakana sound effects in their pages even though the comic is in English and reads left-to-right. Off the top of my head, I know Christy Lijewski, a SCAD grad, and rem, a Houstonian, both do this (though sometimes rem draws right-to-left). The difference is that both of them legitimately know the language, and I don’t (yet?), so I guess I’d feel a little pretentious using katakana in my comics even though I could probably pull it off well enough.

So the question of the day becomes… why aren’t there more English sound effects? Why don’t we also have sounds for things like “shock,” “silence,” “rudeness,” “flailing,” or “a quick glance sideways”? Sure, it is kind of ridiculous to have sound effects for things that inherently have no sound, but it certainly is useful. One of my roommates hypothesized that Japanese theatre might have inspired some of their sound effects since it might not have always been apparent what was going on in nondescript genres like shadow and puppet theatre, so they could have utilized a wide range of informative sound effects to help things along? Honestly though, I know little of Japanese theatre and am really just grasping at straws here.

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You know, I’ve never quite understood the hubbub about global/OEL manga and the subsequent praise of, rejection of, and indignation at those terms.

Personally, I’ve never really considered “manga” to be much more than the Japanese term for comics. Because of the general public consensus that “manga” is narrowed to mean only comics of Japanese origin though, I usually won’t call comics of other origins by the term. But I’ll still use “comics” to refer to manga as no one seems to disagree that it carries a broader definition. No one says that “comic” can only refer to American or English-language sequential art. Yes, there are differences in Japanese and overseas comics, but in modern times, I don’t think that these differences are divisive enough to be rousing such heated debates. After all, within both Japan and the United States, styles vary greatly between artists and titles. Batman has been drawn a hundred different ways and has never looked anything like Jughead. Major Motoko Kusanagi, thankfully, looks nothing like Astro Boy.

Definitions are a funny thing, especially since they aren’t nearly as concrete as most people would like (including myself). In grade school, we read the book Frindle. I still own my copy of it at home, and I still think it addresses an interesting topic. After all, what is anyone to do when the population that uses the word doesn’t agree with itself about what it means? This seems to happen a lot within the anime/manga community because of the high number of originally Japanese terms that we’ve come to adopt (“otaku” and “yaoi” are two other controversial terms that immediately come to mind).

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