Which translations do you prefer for characters' names?

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Re: Which translations do you prefer for characters' names?

Post by Shoryuken » Fri Dec 18, 2015 10:53 am

Translating or adapating any term/name is also an act of precarious linguistic tightrope-walking as you'll never reproduce the original nuances 100% and furthermore there's no guarantee how the intended audience will react since you're catering towards both newcomers as well as seasoned fans.

With that being said, consider the following example where the source isn't obvious unlike names such as Cell, Trunks and Piccolo:

Straight up transliteration:
Kuririn

Adjusting the spelling of the transliteration to look more kewl/exotic/unique/etc.:
Krillin, Klilyn

Adjusting the spelling of the transliteration to reflect the original puns:
Kurilin (Kuri ("chestnut") + Shourin ("Shao Lin"))

Adapting/remaking the name, but with similar puns:
Cheslin ("Ches(tnut)" + "(Shao) Lin")

Abandon any effort at conveying the pun and just making a new, unrelated name:
Bongo
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Re: Which translations do you prefer for characters' names?

Post by clutchins » Sun Dec 20, 2015 2:19 am

I generally prefer the romanized English translations with a few exceptions.

Goku
Bulma
Roshi (Muten or Master)
Oolong
Yamcha
Puar
Gyu-mao or Ox-king
Shenron
Krillin
Launch
Taopaipai
Tenshinhan
Chaozu (whatever is easier to type :) )
Kami
Artificial Human
Majin Buu
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Re: Which translations do you prefer for characters' names?

Post by alakazam^ » Mon Dec 21, 2015 2:22 pm

Proper nouns aren't translated (or shouldn't be, anyway) and people are basically mixing titles with names.

I prefer to use the Japanese official names since that's easier and the creators are the ones that decide, as far as I'm concerned. This said, Dragon Ball is a clusterfuck of name origins. Gokou appears to be the official name of the character now but I refuse to write it that way and I just use "Bulma" because I can make the excuse that Toriyama wrote it that way in the manga. In most cases, I agree with Kanzenshuu's name guides since their research and logic around puns is very good and even if I don't agree with how a name is written, I can just check what the reasoning was and tweak it to my liking.

Chinese names are a personal headache because I don't know the rules of writing them (which romanization system to use, how do hifens work, etc). I was getting used to "Jiaozi" because it looks good but then saw discussion about "Chiaotzu" and how that's supposedly more accurate so that's what I use now. I've been pondering on using "Yumcha", "Puerh" and whatnot but I'll need to research the names of the teas first so I can make up my mind. I also use "Beers" because that's what Toriyama thought it was and what Shuueisha ended up endorsing.

Then there's other "problem": do we go for the pun or the sounds? "Rikuumu", for instance. We know it is "Cream" and it's "Kuriimu". This one is kinda easy because it's just changing letters around, which would become "ReaCm" as-is. Well, the last two letters are troublesome and they don't sound how the name is pronouced anyway so people do write "Reacoome". I find it ugly, to be honest, and the other aspect of it is that we lose an elongated "i" and gain an elongated "u". So, having "ea" doesn't seem to make much sense anymore because it hogs the emphasis of the word but if you opt for just a "re" you lose the pun; then the "u", you originally don't have anything in the word so, do you use "uu" or "oo"? This might be the trickiest part on deciding how to write Dragon Ball characters' names.

"Vegeta" is pretty much the official name and how everyone recognizes him anyway but, since his name isn't exactly written like a shortened "vegetable", I get a bit uncomfortable writing it like "Vegeta" even though I've been doing it forever. If I was to change it's spelling, I'd probably use "Vegeeta" since it retains the pun and the pronounciation.

I tend to not like when elongated "a"s tends to be written as "ar" or "er" for no reason. "Tarble" is weird because that "r" appears out of nowhere but "Taable" is visually weird as well.

Then we have "Son Goku", when we know it's supposed to be "Goku Son". I'd really like for some official translation to be bold and use that someday and see what happens.

I also don't really like how, this being an international forum focused on the Japanese version, people use "Master Roshi/Shen" and other English dub names and they expect everyone else to know who they're talking about. I don't use "Little Heart of Satan" because it's not the character's name and no one knows who that is, so they shouldn't either.

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Re: Which translations do you prefer for characters' names?

Post by Thouser » Mon Dec 21, 2015 9:02 pm

alakazam^ wrote:Proper nouns aren't translated (or shouldn't be, anyway) and people are basically mixing titles with names.
Obviously a proper name like "Son Goku" shouldn't be translated into "Grandchild Awakened to Vacuity" or anything like that. A title like "Turtle Hermit" or "God" isn't a name though. Calling God "Kami," to me, is like referring to the emperor of Japan as "Tenno" like if it was their proper name.
alakazam^ wrote:I prefer to use the Japanese official names since that's easier and the creators are the ones that decide, as far as I'm concerned. This said, Dragon Ball is a clusterfuck of name origins. Gokou appears to be the official name of the character now but I refuse to write it that way and I just use "Bulma" because I can make the excuse that Toriyama wrote it that way in the manga. In most cases, I agree with Kanzenshuu's name guides since their research and logic around puns is very good and even if I don't agree with how a name is written, I can just check what the reasoning was and tweak it to my liking.
"Official" names are inconsistent a lot of the time, though. "Gokou" is often used on merchandise, but it appears as "Goku" on his spacesuit in the manga (iirc). Kuririn has that cap that says "Kulilin," although his name has also appeared as "Klylin" occasionally on merch as well. Those are just a couple examples.

Name puns are another matter. Generally I agree with the Kanzenshuu renderings because they make sense. For example, Tullece. His name is based on "lettuce" (レタス retasu), but with the kana flipped around (ターレス Taaresu). Aside from the extended vowel, flipping the syllables of the English "lettuce" perfectly conveys how the name would appear to someone reading his name in Japanese, in a way that anglicizations like Turles, Tares, or "Taurus" don't.
alakazam^ wrote:Chinese names are a personal headache because I don't know the rules of writing them (which romanization system to use, how do hifens work, etc). I was getting used to "Jiaozi" because it looks good but then saw discussion about "Chiaotzu" and how that's supposedly more accurate so that's what I use now. I've been pondering on using "Yumcha", "Puerh" and whatnot but I'll need to research the names of the teas first so I can make up my mind. I also use "Beers" because that's what Toriyama thought it was and what Shuueisha ended up endorsing.
Chiao-tzu isn't really more "accurate." Both Jiaozi and Chiao-tzu are legitimate romanizations of 餃子, from different romanization systems. Jiaozi is Pinyin and Chiao-tzu is Wade-Giles. If you know the pronunciation rules for Pinyin or Wade-Giles, both are pronounced exactly the same. It's not that Chiao-tzu is more accurate, but that it's easier for someone to get a more accurate pronunciation from Chiao-tzu than Jiaozi if they don't know the pronunciation rules for either system. In other cases, I'd say it's the opposite though. I think Beijing much more accurately conveys the Mandarin pronunciation to the uninitiated than "Pei-ching." The same goes for "Tao Baibai" vs. "T'ao Pai-pai."

As for what romanization system to use, Hanyu Pinyin (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinyin), invented in the People's Republic of China in the 1950s, is the current standard. Wade-Giles ( (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wade%E2%80%93Giles), was the previous standard, and was developed in England in the 1800s. I guess the easiest way to show the difference is to give some examples.
As for the "rules" of writing them, that's way too much to cover here, but I'll address your question about hyphens. Hyphens are used in Wade-Giles two show the separation between two or more characters in a compound word. Basically, it separates syllables. For example 悟空 is Wu-k'ung. 神龍 is Shen-lung. Hyphens aren't used in Pinyin romanization.

All that stuff isn't even getting into words that have entered English as loan words using Wade-Giles spellings or made-up anglicized spellings, or Yamcha, which is Cantonese, not Mandarin.
alakazam^ wrote:"Vegeta" is pretty much the official name and how everyone recognizes him anyway but, since his name isn't exactly written like a shortened "vegetable", I get a bit uncomfortable writing it like "Vegeta" even though I've been doing it forever. If I was to change it's spelling, I'd probably use "Vegeeta" since it retains the pun and the pronounciation.

I tend to not like when elongated "a"s tends to be written as "ar" or "er" for no reason. "Tarble" is weird because that "r" appears out of nowhere but "Taable" is visually weird as well.
It's not for no reason. English words with "ar" or "er", when transcribed into Japanese, end up as "aa." For example, the English surname "Butler" is written in Japanese as バトラー (Batoraa). It's just the same principle in reverse. Of course, it's a matter of taste.

As for Tarble, I suppose it's to show Taaburu's difference in spelling from the "taburu" in "bejitaburu." Although, as you point out, it's inconsistent since nobody tries to show the extended vowels in "Vegeta" or "Tullece." I guess it's used in this case since "Table" is a real English word with a totally different pronunciation. Personally I don't have a problem with the "r."
alakazam^ wrote:Then we have "Son Goku", when we know it's supposed to be "Goku Son". I'd really like for some official translation to be bold and use that someday and see what happens.
Although "Son Goku," uses the Japanese pronunciation of the kanji in his name, it's not a Japanese name, but a Chinese one. Chinese names usually aren't flipped in English unless it's a person who's living in an English speaking country. For example, you never see anyone say "Zedong Mao," "Yat-sen Sun," "Kai-shek Chiang," or "Wukong Sun."
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Re: Which translations do you prefer for characters' names?

Post by precita » Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:48 am

I just use the english names with few exceptions. It doesn't really matter much since unless you're reading the manga you almost never see the names spelled out, besides in episode titles or when they wear clothes with their names on them.

Also I admit I actually like the name, "T"i"en. Gives his name a more eastern vibe.

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Re: Which translations do you prefer for characters' names?

Post by OutlawTorn » Tue Dec 22, 2015 6:26 am

alakazam^ wrote:Then we have "Son Goku", when we know it's supposed to be "Goku Son". I'd really like for some official translation to be bold and use that someday and see what happens.
When you think about it, it is somewhat odd that it retains the Japanese composition when people have no problem saying "Akira Toriyama" or "Masako Nozawa" as opposed to "Toriyama Akira" or "Nozawa Masako." Then there's the bit at the end of DBZ where Goten is wearing a shirt which clearly has "Goten Son" printed on it. But... I don't find it to be that big of a deal.

Personally, many of my preferences would come down to being able to wrap my tongue around the word if I were to say it aloud. I know Krillin is "Kuririn" and, at times, I can say Kuririn but if I was in a casual conversation about DBZ there's that instinct to put emphasis on the middle syllable (you can also hear it when people say "Akira Toriyama") and that just makes it awkward to say "Kuririn" and is just butchering the name in the process. When Viz was releasing the Rurouni Kenshin manga the word "Rurouni" was the bane of the staff when I would call to check on my pull list.

I also favour the "Buu" spelling as it just looks more appealing than "Boo" for a name. I know it's based off of the song from Cinderella, but the other names aren't exact spellings of "Bibbidy" and "Bobbidy" which become Bibidy and Babidy, respectively so I don't see a problem exchanging the o's for u's particularly when it doesn't affect the pronunciation.

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Re: Which translations do you prefer for characters' names?

Post by supacomboy » Sat Dec 26, 2015 5:16 pm

For the vast majority of translations/transliterations/adaptions etc I really do personaly and strongly agree with Kanzenshuu's decisions, especially Beerus (rather than Beers) and Tullece (vs. Tur-les). I think one of the only times I have ever thought Kanzenshuu handled something poorley was the choice to transliterate Mifan as Miphan - the name of the Kingdom from the 3rd Dragon Ball film, "A Mystical Great Adventure". I felt the transliteration was out of place, and for me personally, more jarring than "Fre-iza" which a lot of people seem to have a problem with. I think this is largely because it subverts the sinic origin of the name, as the ph transliteration of an f sound would suggest a word of Greek origin to me. But as I say that is perhaps one of the only occasions I questioned a choice made by Kanzenshuu. In fact, I would love to look at Kanzenshuu's styles guide to see their naming standards, but I believe this hasn't ever been published publicly?

For a suitable adaption for Kuririn (IMO Krillin is crap frankly) I always thought that Kurilin would work well, as it would eliminate that rhotic repetition of the two r sounds in the middle, making it somewhat more natural to the ears of a native English speaker, and perhaps the pun's origins more apparent, as Shaolin I think predominates public awareness over say, Shorin-ji Kempo, Shorin ryū etc. I'm aware some may be uncomfortable with having the name as a phonetic Japanese/Chinese compound but I don't find it too out of place given the context.
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Re: Which translations do you prefer for characters' names?

Post by supacomboy » Sat Dec 26, 2015 5:18 pm

Does Kanzenshuu have any plans to relase their styles guide to the public on the forum at any point?
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Re: Which translations do you prefer for characters' names?

Post by EmmaWinters » Sat Dec 26, 2015 5:33 pm

OutlawTorn wrote:
alakazam^ wrote:Then we have "Son Goku", when we know it's supposed to be "Goku Son". I'd really like for some official translation to be bold and use that someday and see what happens.
When you think about it, it is somewhat odd that it retains the Japanese composition when people have no problem saying "Akira Toriyama" or "Masako Nozawa" as opposed to "Toriyama Akira" or "Nozawa Masako."
Historical Chinese (and Japanese!) names are generally not adapted to English in western order, which is why nobody renders Son Goku as Goku Son. I mean, you can do it, and it wouldn't be wrong, but nobody will.
OutlawTorn wrote:I also favour the "Buu" spelling as it just looks more appealing than "Boo" for a name. I know it's based off of the song from Cinderella, but the other names aren't exact spellings of "Bibbidy" and "Bobbidy" which become Bibidy and Babidy, respectively so I don't see a problem exchanging the o's for u's particularly when it doesn't affect the pronunciation.
Bibbidi and Bobbidi's names are spelled the same way they're spelled in the song. Boo's name has an extended vowel (ブー) instead of a doubled vowel (ブウ), but it's pronounced the same way.
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Re: Which translations do you prefer for characters' names?

Post by Herms » Sat Dec 26, 2015 9:23 pm

EmmaWinters wrote:Historical Chinese (and Japanese!) names are generally not adapted to English in western order,
This is also generally true of modern day Chinese names, and Korean names as well (so you see "Xi Jinping" and " Kim Jong-un" rather than "Jinping Xi" and "Jong-un Kim"). Modern Japan is sort of the odd man out in this regard.
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Re: Which translations do you prefer for characters' names?

Post by nickzambuto » Sun Dec 27, 2015 12:36 am

This site has gotten me to change several of my preferred names. I now use Boo, Tenshinhan, Blooma, and Lunch as opposed to the FUNi alternatives.

I'm torn on Roshi. I understand that "Master Roshi" basically translates to "Master Master" so it's completely wrong, but I like addressing him as "Master" instead of a Japanese word that I don't understand, "Muten."

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Re: Which translations do you prefer for characters' names?

Post by precita » Sun Dec 27, 2015 2:17 am

Bulma isn't a dub name.

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Re: Which translations do you prefer for characters' names?

Post by Soppa Saia People » Sun Dec 27, 2015 7:34 am

precita wrote:Bulma isn't a dub name.
Who said that ?

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Re: Which translations do you prefer for characters' names?

Post by dbgtFO » Sun Dec 27, 2015 8:51 am

soppa saia people wrote:
precita wrote:Bulma isn't a dub name.
Who said that ?
The guy just above precita:
nickzambuto wrote:This site has gotten me to change several of my preferred names. I now use Boo, Tenshinhan, Blooma, and Lunch as opposed to the FUNi alternatives.

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Re: Which translations do you prefer for characters' names?

Post by Soppa Saia People » Sun Dec 27, 2015 10:40 am

dbgtFO wrote:
soppa saia people wrote:
precita wrote:Bulma isn't a dub name.
Who said that ?
The guy just above precita:
nickzambuto wrote:This site has gotten me to change several of my preferred names. I now use Boo, Tenshinhan, Blooma, and Lunch as opposed to the FUNi alternatives.
While I can't speak for him I don't think that's what he was implying.

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Re: Which translations do you prefer for characters' names?

Post by Doctor. » Sun Dec 27, 2015 10:53 am

nickzambuto wrote:This site has gotten me to change several of my preferred names. I now use Boo, Tenshinhan, Blooma, and Lunch as opposed to the FUNi alternatives.

I'm torn on Roshi. I understand that "Master Roshi" basically translates to "Master Master" so it's completely wrong, but I like addressing him as "Master" instead of a Japanese word that I don't understand, "Muten."
Just call him Turtle Hermit then.

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Re: Which translations do you prefer for characters' names?

Post by alakazam^ » Sun Dec 27, 2015 8:58 pm

Herms wrote:
EmmaWinters wrote:Historical Chinese (and Japanese!) names are generally not adapted to English in western order,
This is also generally true of modern day Chinese names, and Korean names as well (so you see "Xi Jinping" and " Kim Jong-un" rather than "Jinping Xi" and "Jong-un Kim"). Modern Japan is sort of the odd man out in this regard.
Can we still consider "Son Goku" an historical name when, in the context of the series, Toriyama uses the same pattern for Gohan and Goten's name and we lump them together, though?

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Re: Which translations do you prefer for characters' names?

Post by jcogginsa » Sun Dec 27, 2015 11:22 pm

When it comes to names on merchandise, It must be noted that Translation accuracy isn't the only factor to consider.

Klilyn, IIRC, was a case where the toymaker didn't have the rights to sell the toys under the proper name (Though it might have been the distributer, not the maker. )

Another factor is marketability. Toys in america are more likely to be sold under the name Krillin and Kuririn because that name is more well known to the targeted demographic. So it gets used even if it's not accurate

Son Gokou might get used because Son Goku is in the public domain like Hercules or Zeus (Note: I have no idea if any of those names are Public Domain or not. I'm just speculating)

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Re: Which translations do you prefer for characters' names?

Post by Herms » Mon Dec 28, 2015 10:29 am

alakazam^ wrote:Can we still consider "Son Goku" an historical name when, in the context of the series, Toriyama uses the same pattern for Gohan and Goten's name and we lump them together, though?
The main point is that Goku/Gohan/Goten aren't modern day Japanese people, so there's no particular reason to switch their name order around as if they were.
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Re: Which translations do you prefer for characters' names?

Post by TenshinFan » Mon May 16, 2016 3:12 am

The ones I struggle with are Kuririn and Bulma.

On the one hand, those names are clearly written, in English, on their clothing periodically.

On the other hand, Kurilin and Bluma sound better and make more sense.

I used to use Chiao-tzu but switched to Chaozu, Puar and switched to Pu'erh, and Yamucha but switched to Yamcha.

Other ones that throw me off are Jeese/Jheese/Jeice/etc and Lan-fan/Ran-fan/Lan-fuan/etc.

Still unsure about Korin vs Karin, and I go back and forth on Enma-daio vs Yama-daio.

I use Reacoom over Recoome, Butta over Burter, and Gurdo over Guldo. Kwi over Cui.

I'll say Turtle over Umigame, but Toninjinka over Carrotizer Bunny.

Attacks I always say in Japanese.

Movies get tricky, but I always write Tullece, Wheelo, Coola, and Broli. Hildegarn I used to write Hirutagan but that's completely made up.

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