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Posts about language

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"ロザリオ" [rozario] is the regular Japanese word for "rosary". The concept entered Japanese culture through Portuguese missionaries. It's not "ロザリー" or the like.

If you encounter "rosario" in an anime or game, it was almost certainly supposed to be "rosary". Keeping it as "rosario" adds a flavor to the text that was almost certainly not intended -- and even if it was, it should be "rosário" (with an acute accent), the actual Portuguese word.

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On Name Meanings

To be honest, a lot of the "name meanings" on anime/manga fan wikis are completely bogus. Many editors have no idea how Japanese orthography works or what a name feels like to actual Japanese people. (Ex.) To be clear, to someone who does know those things, that strategy ends up sounding like this:

The name "Bob" comprises two parts: the letter B, which is the second letter of the alphabet and appears twice, and the letter O, which is derived from omega, the final letter of the Greek alphabet. This indicates Bob's feelings of inferiority and always coming in "second place".

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Translation Nugget: Japanese pronouns

Something for beginner English-to-Japanese translators to keep in mind: Japanese doesn't really use pronouns as much, or in the same way, as English does. In fact, extra pronoun usage is the #1 way that I use to tell if someone has been using a machine translation.

In Japanese, the subject and object of a sentence are usually implied. You guess them based on context. (That's part of why backchanneling is so important.) If they are included, it often tends to sound like you're trying to emphasize these specific people/things/etc., because you went to the trouble of actually saying them. This is especially true with pronouns -- especially if you're talking about yourself or the other person in the conversation, where it should be obvious who the subject or object is. Of course, a machine can't easily pick up this sort of cultural knowledge or the intended meaning.

Including pronouns when they aren't necessary sounds really weird. It feels like you're expecting a confusion that isn't really there, if that makes sense. Hyperbolically, it's a little bit like "I, the person here in front of you, am currently speaking to you, yes, you, the only other person in the room. Just to be clear, you are the one to whom I am talking." This is obviously not how a native speaker talks in most circumstances that don't involve hostage situations.

As for the gendered third-person pronouns (another machine translation favorite, because there must be a single 1:1 equivalent for everything in all languages, right?), nowadays, they're far more commonly used to mean lovers of those genders. The ELVN "His Chuunibyou Can't Be Cured" sports the Japanese subtitle "彼の中二病は治らない", but I just can't help but parse this as "My Boyfriend's...", not "His...". That's simply how it sounds in contemporary Japanese, particularly in media titles.

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In English, "million" is sometimes used literally -- either a specific number (10^6 in short scale) or other figures in its order of magnitude -- and also idiomatically, to mean "a lot". The same is true for "hundred" (10^2), "thousand" (10^3), and "billion" (10^9).

But "myriad" (10^4) is only used in the figurative sense. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen anyone outside of very old academic translations using it to mean an actual number.

It's strange how these things work out.