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While you make a great point Builder2, unfortunately there is also the fact that foreign-sounding names and words often "sound cool" to non-native speakers, even when they sound pretty silly to a native speaker.

We're playing a game about magical samurai authored by native English speakers with varying degrees of understanding of Japanese. I've come to terms with the fact that any and all Japanese (or other languages, for that matter) that is incorporated into the game will probably not be correct.

But if we bring up the "supai" trait I will probably go on an epic rant. (Guess I've not come to terms with everything...)

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The strange thing is for other aspects of the setting, especially in the 4E rpg they did switch over to a more translation-based methodology. In 1E the battle maidens were Shiotome, the Dragon Tattooed Monks were Ise Zumi (and yes, Kikage Zumi and Tsurui Zumi at various other points), Ikoma Storytellers/Bards were called omoidasu. In all these cases the terms were more or less interchangable, but when they tried to make the game less arcane to new players they removed many of these terms which may or may not be horridly inaccurate (I have an incredibly rudimentary understanding of Japanese).

My point is that if they were comfortable with that then in all honesty, I'm surprised they didn't just switch over entirely to translated names other than a sense of immersion and authenticity. It sounds better to go to Ryoko Owari Toshi or Nanashi Mura. Although tell me that "The City of Green Walls" or even its traditional name "Journey's End City" isn't just as evocative to an English-speaking group. But "foreign" terms even those made up for an entirely fictitious setting do add a certain ambiance.

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On 4/21/2017 at 6:31 PM, Network57 said:

I think you mean phonotactics. The phonemes found in Japanese are found in thousands of languages throughout the world.

 

On 4/21/2017 at 6:33 PM, Kinzen said:

To be fair, "phonotactics" is a pretty obscure term to know. :-)

I love this. I kinda thought phoneme was obscure enough. But yeah, phonotactics is the word.

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11 hours ago, SonofScarlet said:

The strange thing is for other aspects of the setting, especially in the 4E rpg they did switch over to a more translation-based methodology. In 1E the battle maidens were Shiotome, the Dragon Tattooed Monks were Ise Zumi (and yes, Kikage Zumi and Tsurui Zumi at various other points), Ikoma Storytellers/Bards were called omoidasu. In all these cases the terms were more or less interchangable, but when they tried to make the game less arcane to new players they removed many of these terms which may or may not be horridly inaccurate (I have an incredibly rudimentary understanding of Japanese).

My point is that if they were comfortable with that then in all honesty, I'm surprised they didn't just switch over entirely to translated names other than a sense of immersion and authenticity. It sounds better to go to Ryoko Owari Toshi or Nanashi Mura. Although tell me that "The City of Green Walls" or even its traditional name "Journey's End City" isn't just as evocative to an English-speaking group. But "foreign" terms even those made up for an entirely fictitious setting do add a certain ambiance.

I'm actually in a process of setting up a series of east asia inspired fantasy short stories. One of my major objectives and challenges is to use as least of "foreign words" as possible, relying on plain English. Often (not talking here about L5R specifically, but in general), foreign nomenclature is used for exoticism and to create the "feel" of samura/wuxia/etc. I want to instead focus on themes and, for the lack of better words, "emergent feel" from the characters, actions and the world.. If it will feel wuxia/samurai enough without throwing a vocabulary at my readers, better for me :) .

Biggest challenge so far? Goddamn clothing. 

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12 hours ago, SonofScarlet said:

My point is that if they were comfortable with that then in all honesty, I'm surprised they didn't just switch over entirely to translated names other than a sense of immersion and authenticity.

"He removed the curved single edged long sword from his cloth belt and placed it on stand designed to hold a curved single-edge long sword and and a single-edged short sword wooden together" doesn't quite have the same ring as "He removed the katana from his obi and placed it on the daisho stand". :P

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Well, to provide a counter point, what do you do with a person who doesn't know what a katana, obi or daisho is? If you are going to say that "well, I explain it to them once"...then it works for "sword, belt and a stand" too :) - if you explain it properly, it will forge the same imagery link between "a katana" and "a sword"., while potentially lowering a barrier of entry for new people who won't feel intimidated by having to learn lots of jargon. 

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4 hours ago, WHW said:

I'm actually in a process of setting up a series of east asia inspired fantasy short stories. One of my major objectives and challenges is to use as least of "foreign words" as possible, relying on plain English. Often (not talking here about L5R specifically, but in general), foreign nomenclature is used for exoticism and to create the "feel" of samura/wuxia/etc. I want to instead focus on themes and, for the lack of better words, "emergent feel" from the characters, actions and the world.. If it will feel wuxia/samurai enough without throwing a vocabulary at my readers, better for me :) .

Biggest challenge so far? Goddamn clothing. 

Does not katana mean sword? Only real stuff that matters there is one edge (I guess), the way to handle it, technological developments that lead to it instead of other kind of sword and what it counters in the battlefield.

If I were to write about some different culture, fictional one or not, I would consider having some section with information about it, like "Background setting" and then "Now stories about the setting", or showing/telling along the way when needed (sparsely so it does not get in the middle of narration).  If you write against standard tropes of the culture you are writting in, there is no way around some kind of introduction/explanation for those who has no knowledge about other... settings.

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Besides, some words are simply imported into a language, so you don't always have to translate everything at all costs. Particularly katana is a word that's become well-known enough to need no introduction. 

But for clothing, like a sari or a kimono or a yukata? I'd just use those words and describe them the first time they come up. There's no proper analogue in western clothing and no translation and so anything you come up with is likely to be awkward and more distracting than just using the proper name.

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On 2017-04-23 at 5:25 PM, Suzume Tomonori said:

While you make a great point Builder2, unfortunately there is also the fact that foreign-sounding names and words often "sound cool" to non-native speakers, even when they sound pretty silly to a native speaker.

We're playing a game about magical samurai authored by native English speakers with varying degrees of understanding of Japanese. I've come to terms with the fact that any and all Japanese (or other languages, for that matter) that is incorporated into the game will probably not be correct.

But if we bring up the "supai" trait I will probably go on an epic rant. (Guess I've not come to terms with everything...)

I like the attempt at fantasy Japanese, even as the geography is a crazy version of China.

Skyrim did the same thing utterly butchering the Nordic languages, but it was still great fun and managed to add a bit of Norse flavor into the game. Galmar Stennäve, Istar Rösebrytare, Ulfrik Stormmantel, Hjornskar Huvudkrossaren. Not sure if any of you have any passable knowledge of Swedish, Danish, or Norwegian, but the names sound utterly ridiculous when translated from Skyrim's English. Like something a very, very bad teenage LARPer at a viking convention on Gotland might name themselves.

Nonetheless, it's undeniable that the people who made Skyrim created it as a loving ode to Scandinavia and Norse myths, mixed into the Elder Scrolls mythology. And it really, really works.

L5R is exactly the same, in my mind. You have some good people trying to make a good game based on a mythic version of a foreign country they're only so-so familiar with. And it really, really works. ;)

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1 minute ago, lumia2 said:

I like the attempt at fantasy Japanese, even as the geography is a crazy version of China.

Skyrim did the same thing utterly butchering the Nordic languages, but it was still great fun and managed to add a bit of Norse flavor into the game. Galmar Stennäve, Istar Rösebrytare, Ulfrik Stormmantel, Hjornskar Huvudkrossaren. Not sure if any of you have any passable knowledge of Swedish, Danish, or Norwegian, but the names sound utterly ridiculous when translated from Skyrim's English. Like something a very, very bad teenage LARPer at a viking convention on Gotland might name themselves.

Nonetheless, it's undeniable that the people who made Skyrim created it as a loving ode to Scandinavia and Norse myths, mixed into the Elder Scrolls mythology. And it really, really works.

L5R is exactly the same, in my mind. You have some good people trying to make a good game based on a mythic version of a foreign country they're only so-so familiar with. And it really, really works. ;)

As someone else said similarly earlier, I think the issue is that there's a bit of an "uncanny valley" effect at work in L5R because they've made Rokugani into "Japanese but with mistakes". All the correct stuff makes the errors stand out.

If they'd taken the Skyrim approach you describe and just stuck with Japanese-ish sounding gibberish, there'd be no problem.

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On 2017-4-21 at 8:42 PM, Builder2 said:

If there's one thing I hope gets left behind, in the CCG where it belongs, it's this axiom. You can't just excuse anything and everything because it's a fictional setting. The phonemes used in names and places are intentionally based on Japanese. There should either be a native or otherwise fluent speaker proofing these things, or they should limit the use of foreign words to character names only. I'll take a male Daigotsu Misaki ("Beautiful Blossom") over a Shiro no Yojin ("Vigilance of Castle") ny day.

IMG_5978.PNG

Ops!

l5c01_stronghold-anatomy_diagram.png

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Straight up Hepburn with the diacritics all up in here.

And they have changed the card name for Yojin no Shiro since last week. Perhaps the new one is the one that went to the printers and the old one was an early mock-up?

Edited by Suzume Tomonori

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Just now, Suzume Tomonori said:

Straight up Hepburn with the Diacritics all up in here.

The way I've always understood it, that style is more correct but harder to type. The old AEG forum had a neat feature where when you typed "mahou," it would automatically change it to mahō with a macron. Very handy for people like me who haven't mastered our character mapping.

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On 4/23/2017 at 11:58 PM, WHW said:

I'm actually in a process of setting up a series of east asia inspired fantasy short stories. One of my major objectives and challenges is to use as least of "foreign words" as possible, relying on plain English. Often (not talking here about L5R specifically, but in general), foreign nomenclature is used for exoticism and to create the "feel" of samura/wuxia/etc. I want to instead focus on themes and, for the lack of better words, "emergent feel" from the characters, actions and the world.. If it will feel wuxia/samurai enough without throwing a vocabulary at my readers, better for me :) .

Biggest challenge so far? Goddamn clothing. 

Tales of the Otori does a good job of this.  It took me a while in the first book to realize when he refers to his "Tribe" he just means "Ninja" (Which I think is perfectly fine).  

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4 hours ago, Mirith said:

Tales of the Otori does a good job of this.  It took me a while in the first book to realize when he refers to his "Tribe" he just means "Ninja" (Which I think is perfectly fine).  

Across the Nightingale Floor is one of my favorite books of all time. (It's the first book in the Tales of the Otori.)

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7 hours ago, Builder2 said:

The way I've always understood it, that style is more correct but harder to type. The old AEG forum had a neat feature where when you typed "mahou," it would automatically change it to mahō with a macron. Very handy for people like me who haven't mastered our character mapping.

As long as both writer and reader each mutually understand the style with no ambiguity then as far as I'm concerned that's "correct." But Hepburn with diacritics is, I'm to understand, preferred in academic contexts. It's just a pain to write on a standard keyboard is all.

But I'll take it over Kunrei Style ("sho" written as "syo", "chi" written as "ti," etc.) any day.

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6 minutes ago, Suzume Tomonori said:

But Hepburn with diacritics is, I'm to understand, preferred in academic contexts. It's just a pain to write on a standard keyboard is all.

Yeah, it's pretty ubiquitous. I sometimes translate Japanese texts for academic publication, and they always want me to use macrons (which are fortunately easy to input in Word). It's pretty common in non-academic texts on Japan-specific topics as well.

It's recently become popular in anime circles to just type out long vowels instead (Toukyou for Tokyo, for example), but I really hope that doesn't catch on.

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