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The practice of not translating certain terms or words because the translator can find no satisfactory equivalent in the target language. Can happen in culture-specific language, because of an assumption it shouldn't be translated, or simply because a grammatically correct term sounds odd, outdated or just weird. Please note, this isn't Blind Idiot Translation. The removal of the honorifics is perfectly normal in a cultural translation, and a lot of things should be omitted, especially in subtitles. Things like greetings and cliche phrases are expected to be omitted.

This is mostly an issue with subtitles (especially those made for more niche markets or those created as a "fan alternative" to a Bowdlerised dub) and some dubs, usually in regards to things like Honorifics and the tricky assumption the audience knows a certain amount of standard Japanese terms. Of course, what the audience is assumed to know changes over time, and depends to a large degree on the people doing the translating. More specifically, some shows become so identified with certain terms or phrases they are explained once but otherwise left untranslated.

It can also be an useful escape if a concept is considered to be too touchy to escape censorship Executive Meddling; A Bilingual Bonus are rare enough it'll just be treated as a story term and perhaps even eventual outright fan jargon. In extremely divergent adaptations, it may even be treated as a different concept in fan discussions.

See also Aliens Speaking English.

The trope's namesake is a play on the common internet phrase Too Long; Didn't Read.

Examples of Too Long; Didn't Dub include:


Anime and Manga

  • Fansubs of anime and Scanslations of manga are notorious for this, to the point that the subject of whether to actually translate words and phrases at all (never mind how to do it) can lead to massive Flame War. Many (most?) fansubbers out there working on anime titles don't even bother to translate some common words which DO have a perfectly serviceable and accurate translation, such as "Baka" (meaning "idiot" or "fool"). This generally meets with derision even from those who prefer Honorifics and the like to remain untranslated.
    • One of the more Egregious examples is the decision to translate personal pronouns as "That person" or "This person", or sometimes "This (man/woman)" or "That (man/woman)", when it would be fairly easy in context to translate them as "him", "her", "he", "she", and so on.
      • Granted, that above mentioned point is understandable in series where the viewer is supposed to remain in suspense over who that is or did that or similar.
      • For which the English language gives us the gender neutral second-person singular "They". Some (quite a lot) of people don't like the construction, which is their perogative, however it flows much better than "that person".
  • The Kaizoku fansub translation of One Piece do this with attack names (which otherwise have little relevance) and words such as "nakama". Translations might still be given at the top of the screen (which may or may not be accompanied by background info and/or double meanings).
    • There's also FUNimation's official simulcast sub, which calls "Haki" (meaning, among other things, ambition) "Haki energy". Reportedly, they originally wanted to translate the term, but didn't due to a request by Toei Animation.
    • However, One Piece kinda justifies this in many cases: words already foreign (Sanji's attacks are all French words), double meanings (the worst, half of the attack callings are these), Japanese puns...
    • One Piece fansubs/scanslations which never translate the Devil Fruits even when there's an obvious translation (for example, "Doku-Doku no Mi" simply means "Poison-Poison Fruit"). Though it isn't always that easy. The Devil Fruits have an unusual naming scheme, and tend to be named after specific Japanese onomatopoeia instead of exactly what they are.
      • Even the 4Kids dub called the Flower Flower Fruit "the Hana-Hana fruit," which even the uncut "FUNimation" version translated.
  • The dubs of Ai Yori Aoshi and FLCL actually leave in many honorifics.
    • Admirably averted in other parts of the FLCL dub, where Japanese puns and word plays were adapted for English-speaking audiences.
  • The English dub of Lucky Star (yes, the official one) uses Honorifics as well as the terms moe and Otaku. The official manga translation maintained this convention as well, though it occasionally also translated "otaku" to "geek" (though not consistently). Justified in that Lucky Star's protagonists tend towards otakuism, so it feels much more appropriate than in other series.
    • This is also because the translation was based on the assumption that the viewers should have known this already--often the manga translator's notes would start with "As anime fans would know..."
  • Some subs have also started leaving in sempai, a word which translates directly to "senior" or "mentor" and is either pretty culture-specific or a totally random and toadying thing to mention.
  • The genderless character Ashura in RG Veda was referred to as "Princess" in the dub of the OVA for this reason, confusing people who had read the TokyoPop manga, where Ashura was referred to by male pronouns.
  • The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya dub, though it fully translates honorifics, leaves in a lot of Japanese references, starting with the concept of "Golden Week," with little to no explanation. Haruhi also gives a very detailed description of what the word "moe" means.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann's English dub also leaves in some untranslated Japanese terms, but most of them fit into the dialogue in such a way that it's not even obvious they're Japanese to begin with: the term Gunmen (or "ganmen"), for instance, which means "face", or the name Gurren Lagann itself, as well as the names of the Four Generals' battleships (Daigunzan, Daigunkai, Daigunten and Daigundo). The only two places that might elicit a "huh?" from the audience are Kamina's decision to rename Team Gurren as Team Dai ("Great") Gurren, and the use in the series finale of "Tengen Toppa"" ("Heaven Piercing") with no translation (which would be especially confusing to anyone that has only heard the local title which was shortened to just Gurren Lagann)... but the dialogue itself is executed well enough that it's only a minor hiccup, and in the latter case it's still pretty awesome.
    • Its probably because it just sounds cooler in Japanese, especially if you have no idea what the names mean.
    • Seeing as they were about to hijack a machine that has Dai in the start of it's name, it could be taken to be related to that.
  • The dub of Ouran leaves in the honorifics and words like "moe" and "otaku".
  • The Azumanga Daioh dub leaves in Chiyo-chan. Those not familiar with Azuma's overtly friendly naming schemes has led a handful of writers are under the impression that "chan" is part of her name... This was probably done to facilitate matching the lip flaps, since they translated other honorifics (Tadakichi-san = Mr. Tadakichi, for instance). That, and there's no real direct translation for "-chan." "Li'l" is pretty close, though.
  • Viz's translation of the Death Note manga included honorifics at first, but it dropped off in later volumes.
  • The word kokoro, in the dub of the 2003 Astro Boy anime, which is otherwise pretty thorough, used here to describe what separates advanced AI such as the title character from ordinary machines because of apparently difficulty in using a single word to describe the concept, usually done as "heart" but with non-religious overtones of "soul".
  • This makes a minor appearance in Naruto, where most of the "sensei"'s were left on. (e.g. Iruka-sensei, Kakashi-sensei, Asuma-sensei, Kurenai-sensei, and Lee's famous Catch Phrase, "Yes, Guy-sensei!") Probably because most English-speakers at least understand that much.
    • There's also any time an attack name had the word "jutsu" (technique) in it, even when the names were otherwise more liberally translated (in fact "jutsu" is sometimes in the dub attack names which didn't even have the word "jutsu" in them in the Japanese version).
    • On the other hand, the Viz translation of the manga is utterly made of this, with any attack being given in romaji, then translated. One particularly weird example is referring to the leaders of the five major villagers as "the Gokage" (which even the most literal scanlations just call "the Five Kages"), which sounds less like it means "the five who are Kage" and more like "the Kage of Go". Another is leaving Tsuki no Me Keikaku ("Moon's Eye Plan") completely untranslated, leaving no indication that it's even some sort of plan or strategy.
    • Viz's official subs have also kept in the occasional bit of Honorifics, although not that often.
  • The official German dub versions of the Inuyasha movies, having their scripts translated by fans, has lots and lots of Gratuitous Japanese, to the point where they were accused of making the movies unwatchable to the original audience of the Macekred TV series.
  • The Finnish dub of The Cat Returns left perfectly translatable words like "arigato" "hai" and "domo" in Japanese for some inexplicable reason.
  • TV-Nihon (another fansubbing group) takes a lot of heat not just for doing this but for defending it. Their rationalization is that the words they don't translate don't have good English equivalents -- which fans mock, since among those words are honorifics and "kisama" and "yatsu", which are very rude versions of "you" and typically get translated by professionals as "bastard", "asshole" or the like. This leads to lines like "You little yatsu!" in their translation of the Zeta Gundam compilation movies. TV-Nihon's general response to criticism is to yell at the people pointing out their problems and tell them they should be grateful they're subtitling these shows at all. In the interest of fairness, they have gotten better about this in recent years.
    • In some of Transformers Energon's sub a word would be untranslated, but a small note at the bottom of the screen would explain what the term meant. The most notable would be the episode title "Kuuzenzetsugo! Super Emperor of Destruction", which included a footnote explaining that kuuzenzetsugo meant something so rare and great that it had never happened before and probably won't happen again. Which any normal translator still would have found an equivalent in English. Transformers Wiki translates the term as "Terrifyingly Unprecedented."
    • Their sub of Samurai Sentai Shinkenger seemed to be asking themselves "How can we translate as little as possible?", and translator notes pop up all over the damn place. ...for the first couple appearances. Hope you get everything memorized if you want to enjoy every single episode.
      • Something else that popped up during Shinkenger was the lack of the translation of the phrase "Ah mou!", which is along the lines of "Aw man!".
    • The very first episode of Tensou Sentai Goseiger had a boy calling the girls "Oneechan-tachi". Not even so much as a translator note for what that meant. Which by the way, simply means he's referring to the two girls. In plural. That's it. This isn't even the first time they've refused to translate "-tachi", a phrase that simply indicates a noun being used as a plural.
    • This has at times even delved into Blind Idiot Translation. Case in point: Kamen Rider Double, where every sign in Futo City reads "Futo", yet the subs always say "Fuuto" with two U's. Not to mention the numerous cases where the character name romanizations always have extra U's and use eastern naming order, even when official materials for the series use proper romanization.
      • Eastern naming order is technically a given, since the characters themselves out right say it in their lines. Regarding the extra U's whereas official materials lack it (even official materials have their own translation problems), the thing is that some viewers actually use the subs as a learning tool, and the subbing programs might not necessarily agree with the macrons. Also, some words use "o" in the long vowels instead of using "u", like "Oosaka" if you read its furigana versus Tokyo's "Toukyou", and then there are cases where the lack of "u/o" can mean two completely different words, like "kotsu" 骨 for "knack; skill" versus "koutsu" 交通 for "traffic".
    • Much of the English-speaking world thinks of the Engine Sentai Go-onger character Hant as "Hanto" because TV-N went with that romanization of his name instead of... his name as seen on his jacket in every episode ever.
    • One particularly bad case was in Kamen Rider Den-O. When protagonist Ryotaro unlocks his Super Mode, his allies press him to name his finishing move while he's in the middle of performing it. Confused and pressed for time, he blurts out "Densha Giri!", which everyone calls a terrible name. The problem is, TV-N left this in Japanese with absolutely no translator's notes or anything, meaning that if you don't understand Japanese you have no idea what everyone is griping about. (By the by, it means "Train Slash".)
      • In another Den-O example, Ryotaro's sister (who runs a cafe) very cutely refers to the coffee beans as "coffee-tachi". This was also left untranslated and has become the butt of many a joke.
        • On the other hand, there is a single example that most fans are willing to let TV-N get away with: Momotaros' Catch Phrase, "Ore, Sanjou!" It can be translated (it's a very rough way of saying "I've arrived!"), but most fans feel that there really is no English translation that gets it quite right and are perfectly content to leave it in Japanese even when they quote it themselves.
      • Another Kamen Rider example, this time in Kamen Rider OOO, is a scene where Eiji is assisted by the new Candroids. Eiji, mistaking them for snakes, immediately screams and drops the Candroids, but then Goto sets him straight by, according to TV-N, assuring him that they are actually "unagi." Enjoy looking that up later, since they don't even put in a note. It means eel.
    • By this point, in addition to fansubbers, there are groups that call themselves "scrubbers," who take the Gratuitous Japanese-filled scripts of other subbing groups (primarily TV-N) and turn them into complete translations. If TV-N translations didn't need translations, the whole idea of scrubbing may not have come to be.
  • Among the various fakesub photoshops of Light's famous "Just as planned" scene in Death Note is "Just according to keikaku. (Translator's note: keikaku means plan)", mocking this practice and the accompanying translator notes.
    • Unfortunately, it's not that far from reality.
  • The now-defunct Tomodachi Anime prefixed their fansubs of Kodomo no Omocha with cultural notes that sometimes included explanations of somewhat more obscure Japanese terms they felt they had to leave untouched.
  • The Danish Naruto dub keeps Naruto's catchphrase "datte ba yo", which even the most Japanophile fansubber ignores, in Japanese. With no explanation as to why the character adds it on to every single sentence.
  • Several fansubs and scanlations of CLAMP works such as Cardcaptor Sakura, XxxHolic and Tsubasa choose not to translate "hitsuzen," since it is a rather complicated concept with no English equivalent. When it is translated, usually "fate" or "destiny" are used (or even "the inevitable"), but those don't quite match up.
    • A Spaniard sub, though, managed to translate "hitsuzen" as "inevitability".
    • The official Del ray release of XxxHolic uses "hitsuzen" as well.
  • Many Dragon Ball fans have a bizarre tendency to spell the names of certain characters by their literal Japanese-to-English romanization instead of Toriyama's refreshingly straightfoward English that appears on the most quality-controlled merchandise, just so they can claim they're being true to the original Japanese work. Thus Vegeta's name is spelled as "Bejiita", "Freeza" becomes "Furiiza", "Trunks" becomes "Torankusu", and "Baby" as "Bebii". Some do take it a step further and call the manga "Doragon Booru."
  • Particularly rabid Gundam Wing fans insist on using names like "Hiiro" and "Dyuo" over the real names..."Heero" and "Duo". Amusingly, they still manage to get it wrong, referring to Quatre as "Kyatora", when his name is written in Katakana as "Katoru".
  • Tokyo Pop's translation of the Fruits Basket manga keeps the honorifics, but the Singaporean English translation doesn't (resulting in some odd equivalent nicknames being given to some characters). The anime loses them too; the reasonably significant (although the anime doesn't cover it) fact that Yuki doesn't call Tohru by her first name but calls her Honda-san is changed to "Miss Honda".
    • Hatori keeps the nickname of Hari from Momiji in the anime. But unlike the manga, Shigure and Ayame also call him this instead of Haa-san and Tori-san respectively. Possibly because they sound strange without an honorific (particularly "Haa-san").
  • In Toei's official subs for the Fist of the North Star TV series, every martial art style and technique is given an English name, including the ones that don't exactly translate well into English (the Hokuto Ryu-Ken style is given the rather awkward sounding English name of "North Star Lapis Lazuli Fist"), but honorifics like "san" and "sama" are kept for no reason. This is odd, considering, the Heart of Madness fansubs did the opposite.
  • Used in the Gash Bell dub, where it's much easier for the publishers to call the resident Mons 'mamodo' rather than the typical translation, demon.
  • In the fan-translation of the manga Gun Blaze West, honorifics are left untouched. Normally this wouldn't be too bad, but it's set in 1870s Kansas and none of the characters are Japanese.
    • The same thing happens with almost every single Queen's Blade fansub, scanlation or translation, despise being set in a Fantastic Western European world and it's implied in the series that the language used by the heroines is Russian!
    • This is even worse with series who doesn't take place in Japan (or any East Asian country) at all, like the U.S. (Chrono Crusade), Italy (Gunslinger Girl), Germany (Blassreiter, Monster), England (Hellsing, Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure Part I) and others. In fact, in most of those series, there's very few Japanese characters to justify the use of honorifics, and only in Monster the main character is Japanese, but he speaks German due to his job.
    • In fact, the logic used by those fansubbers is: Since Anime is a Japanese media, the same rule for fansubbing must be applied in any series, regardless if the series takes place in Japan or not.
  • Del Rey's official manga translations leave honorifics to keep the spirit as close to the original as possible, due to the potential for lost nuances in dropping them. To aid the reader in understanding this choice, each volume opens with a refresher course in common honorifics and closes with translator notes on various cultural references that would likely go over their heads.
  • Scanlations of Ichinensei Ni Nacchattara don't translate the title ("When I Became a First Grader") and, more egregiously, usually leave the word "ichinensei" intact. "Ichinensei" means "first grader". No more, no less.
  • Katekyo Hitman Reborn subs have varying degrees of this, but one of the most frustrating would probably be in a certain French fansub, where the term "aneki" (Japanese Sibling Terminology for older sister, with a nuance of roughness; it's how Gokudera refers to Bianchi) is left the same... with "Note: Aneki = Grand Souer" (Note: Aneki = big sister).
  • In the Pokémon Special online translation, the Elite Four are left as the Shitenou (which, according to the translator, really changes the meaning to the Four Heavenly Kings). Of course, they started doing this halfway through the Elite Four arc, so if you didn't read the margin notes, you'd probably be confused.
    • This change is also notably wrong, since proper romanization for 四天王 is "shitennou".
    • The English dub of the anime leaves Candice's use of the word "Kiai" untranslated for some reason, possibly because there was no good two-syllable English word that meant the same.
      • Amusingly, the fansubs used "fighting spirit". Pokemon fansubs in general are pretty free from this trope.
  • Normally averted in Anim Eigo's releases of the Urusei Yatsura TV series. The translators tried to deal with the constant barrage of wordplay and cultural references with carefully-chosen translations for the subtitles, only rarely resorting to on-screen notes, and it usually works without drifting too heavily into Woolseyism, but they also included notes inside the video/DVD cases (covering up to four whole sides of an inlay-sized booklet in fairly small text) that go into comprehensive detail about the jokes and references, even explaining what the characters really said and why they translated it a particular way.
  • The sub of Seirei no Moribito's anime leaves all instances of 'Mikado', a word that means 'Emperor' and has exactly as many syllables. It was likely retained to underline that Yogo is a Fantasy Counterpart Culture to Japan ('Mikado' specifically refers to the Japanese emperor), but probably confused viewers not aware of this. Especially odd since no other Japanese honorifics or titles were left in, and no translation notes explained the word's meaning.
    • This carried over to the English dub as well.
  • In the dub of the Rurouni Kenshin TV series, all the names of the fighting techniques were left in their original Japanese pronunciations. Even the title was left untranslated. In their defense, the Japanese pronunciations sound cool while a translation would had made them sound a little silly, especially a direct translation. Also, its not really an issue of being lazy as its harder on the voice actors to say it in Japanese, especially "Amakakeru Ryū no Hirameki."
  • Dark Horse's translation of the Lone Wolf and Cub manga leaves in many of the Japanese words, explaining that they felt there's no good translation for them. Fortunately, they put in a glossary at the back.
  • The Anime Adaptation of The Little Princess is referred to by its untranslated name of Shokojo Sera (Sarah) on this wiki.
  • As a rule of thumb, in almost every single Latin American Spanish-language translation of almost every single anime (but not Manga), both in official form and fansubs, the name of the United States is always rendered as America or sometimes North America since in Japanese media, this is the common way to spell the name of the country in Japanese, despise the legal name of the U.S.A in Japanese is アメリカ合衆国 (America Gasshukoku) but it's RARELY used in Anime and Manga. This is justified, because in Spanish, the name of the United States is Estados Unidos, Estados Unidos de America or Norte America and normally that name doesn't fit during the lip-synch in dubs, since it uses more words than "America" does in Japanese, not to mention that many Spanish-speaking fansubbers leave "America" as it in the final translation since they're trying to keep the Japanese nuance about the use of the word America instead of United States of America. Oddly enough, European Spanish dubs did translate America as United States in many Anime dubs, but Spaniard fansubbers keeps America just like their Latin American peers.
    • That's because in Spain it's common to call the USA "America" too. The guys translating the official dubs are just pompous.
  • The Mexican Spanish dub of the second Meitantei Conan film keeps the Japanese honorifics and naming orders untranslated, an unusual move there, since Mexican translators always tries to find an equivalent for every single translated word to Spanish. This is because the script of that dub was ripped out from a fansub and not from official sources. Needless to say, many people didn't like that move, except hardcore fans.
  • The Spanish dub of Crayon Shin-chan leaves the -chan of the eponymous main character (Understandable), the one for Boo-chan's name (also understandable), and in some episodes they refer to Ai and Nene as Ai-chan and Nene-chan (Bizarre and inconsistent, as it's only for a handful of eps). There was also that time they called a riceball an onion.
  • The vast majority of English translations, fansubs and official translations alike, of Japanese works based on classic Chinese works like Romance of the Three Kingdoms (Ikki Tousen, Koihime Musou, etc), Water Margin (Akaboshi - Ibun Suikoden, etc) and Journey to the West (Saiyuki, Dragon Ball, etc), will leave names of characters, places and terminology in their Japanese equivalents rather than the Chinese names the entire rest of the world uses. This is presumably some combination of Did Not Do the Research, lazyness and "it's-what-they're-saying-so-it's-what-the-subs-should-say"-ism, but it'll still lead to the vast majority of watchers having no clue the series is based on a Chinese work and the characters actually have Chinese names. Even if they are familiar with the original works (video games like Dynasty Warriors definitely means a lot of anime watchers are familiar with Three Kingdoms on a basic level), it's still hard to figure out the connection between these "Japanese" names and the original Chinese.
  • In the same way, the Spanish translations of Thermae Romae (both the anime and the manga, and possibly the live-action film) keep the main character's name, Lucius, untranslated from Latin, despise by traditional conventions between Latin and Spanish, his name should be translated as "Lucio" instead. The same goes for the Emperor Hadrian, whose name should be "Adriano" in Spanish.


Film

  • The Sandy Frank dub for Gamera vs. Guiron inexplicably maintained "Kon-chan" as the children's nickname for the police officer, Kondo. The Mystery Science Theater 3000 release of the episode got a running gag out of Joel and the Bots mishearing this as "Cornjob".


Literature

  • The Bible provides an interesting example of this: Hebrew scripts only contain consonants, leaving the vowels out. God's name is spelled as YHWH, and its vowels and pronunciation were deliberately withheld from post-exilic Jews, since speaking it came to be considered blasphemy. Only a select few priests knew how it was pronounced, and this knowledge is now lost to us (although Yahweh or Jehovah are commonly accepted).
    • Although 'Jehovah' is actually a mis-translation in itself. Ancient Jews, instead of saying the Lord's name would substitute with the word 'adonai' (meaning Lord) . As stated above Hebrew was originally written without vowels, later symbols (known as pointing; jots and tittles) were added above the words to indicate the vowels. To remind those reading from the text to say 'adonai' instead of...however YHWH was pronounced...the vowels of 'adoni' were placed over the consonants of 'YHWH'. Some of the first translators of the Bible from Hebrew didn't realise that this was the convention and so considered the vowels above YHWH to simply belonged with it. This created 'Yahowah', which over time (thanks partially to Latin) became Jehovah in English.
    • The King James translation (and most English translations thereafter) render YHWH as "the Lord" or "the Lord".
    • Ever wonder why the wood in the ark (the boat one) was named after gophers? It wasn't; "gopher" (or "gofer") is a transliteration of the word for that kind of wood.
    • Similarly, "log" as a measure of capacity has nothing to do with fallen trees.
    • The Psalms have notes (e.g. "Selah") which are left in the original language because that word appears only in the Psalms and its meaning is unclear.
    • An occurrence where it may have been better not to have translated the word is the use of words like "fool" and "simple," which don't actually mean "person with low intelligence" and "easy, not complicated." They actually have moral points; a fool is someone who actively abhors morality, whereas a simple person is someone who is more amoral, having no sense of morality. (Could use verification.)
  • Many English translations of French literature, such as Les Misérables and the works of Alexandre Dumas leave in the monsieurs, mademoiselles, and madames (or at least their abbreviations), instead of translating them into Mr, Mrs., etc.
  • French Sci Fi novel Malevil leaves French honorifics untranslated like the above example. The most frequently seen samples would be religious titles like "Abbé" and "Curé".
  • Papillon leaves a handful of French terms left untranslated, mostly the ones related to Penal Colony life and denizens. Of greatest import: bagne - the penal colony, cavale - escape attempt, mec - man or pal, and plan - a metal tube storing money hidden in the rectum.


Live-Action TV

  • The honorifics are left in on the Food Network dub of Iron Chef.


Philosophy

  • Philosophical translations often fall prey to this, since the subtleties of a word in one language might be missed if the closest equivalent in another is used. In this case, it may be better to leave the word as written and add a footnote for a definition or direction to another source explaining the meaning.
    • For example, this is how the word 'angst' came into English.
    • Or, if we go back a bit more, this is how the word 'philosophy' came into English. Most of the technical vocabulary of Western philosophy is taken directly or indirectly from ancient Greek and Latin.
    • Friedrich Nietzsche 's Ubermensch, roughly translatable as 'overman, superman' but not quite.
  • A common decision in translating Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics, for example, is to not translate the Greek word eudaimonia (lit: the state of having a beautiful soul), since English terms like "happiness" or "flourishing" often fail to communicate its exact nature.
  • Steve Hagen has related difficulties in his early writings on Buddist Philosophy. His editors kept removing the capitalization on the word "Mind". They insisted it was a non-specific word, he argued that it was a specific technical term for the purposes of his books.
  • Inverted in the case of the "Uncertainty Principle" which Heisenberg supposedly found lacking in the original German.
    • Interestingly, the aforementioned Nietzsche found much the same thing with regard to the word "resentment": he could not find a German word that adequately expressed the concept as he understood it, and he thus used the French word ressentiment. It is generally retained as ressentiment in English translations, although "resentment" more or less captures the French meaning (being derived from French originally).
  • Quite a few European languages call the Big Bang just that -- in English, even though it could be translated rather easily. There is no reason for this, and it doesn't sound right, especially in something like Spanish or French.
    • Possibly because the term was probably originally meant to sound ridiculous, as it was coined by Fred Hoyle, who was an opposer of the theory (although he apparently denies meaning to sound pejorative). Seriously, pretend you've never heard the term before; without the cultural associations it sounds like something out of a little kid's mouth. No wonder that it sounds silly when translated.
      • For the record, at least in Finnish it wasn't translated literally. The word "alkuräjähdys" translates to more or less "initial explosion" rather than "big bang". Many still use the English term in Finnish too, probably just because it's shorter.


Tabletop Games

  • D&D 3.0-3.5 has dozens of books; only the 3.0 Player's Handbook was translated into Turkish. The only half-decent parts of it used Arabic and Persian words to emulate Latin's "mystic" feel in English... replacing a bunch of words the readers didn't know with another bunch of words the readers didn't know. In other sources, things as simple as weapon names are translated very inconsistently. As a result, most Game Masters in Turkey pepper their games generously with English words. As most gamers pick up a lot of those words from computer games, it's not much of a problem.
  • Justified in-universe in Genius: The Transgression, a fan-made gameline for the New World of Darkness. Branches of special abilities have Greek names, Latin pops up in all sorts of places, and characters' motive-types are given German names. There's a section in the book detailing why each language is used where it is and how each came to be the convention. Greek was a 'neutral' language during the Enlightenment when a French group and English group wanted to exchange notes, the Romans made the first records of a number of phenomena, and the catalysts for becoming a Genius were categorized by a supercomputer imitating Sigmund Freud. Really it's all just the Rule of Cool at work, because it's more fun to say "Grimm Skafoi mane" than "A really angry car".


Video Games

  • The "kokoro" (heart/soul) of sleeping King of All Cosmos in the fourth Katamari Damacy game is described as being locked away. Oddly, this wasn't translated despite the game being pretty good at describing (or at least translating) anything the player is supposed to understand.
    • That the collection list for rolled-up items mentions a building involved in the localization of video games being "not too important" suggests most of the game's bizarre dialogue is a deliberate combo of Intentional Engrish for Funny & Blind Idiot Translation .
  • The original Metroid had this with the Maru Mari. It was originally not translated, because the literal translation was approximately "To make round". It was later referred to as the "Round Ball". Later games in the series called it the Morph Ball when translating it, including the remake Metroid: Zero Mission, though ports of the game left this alone.
  • In the Japanese version of Castlevania, the whip-wielding skeletons were called "Shimon", which is play on Simon Belmont's name, and it literally translates to "Gates of Death", which was what the enemy was called in the English manual of Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse. In Harmony of Dissonance, Shimon was called "Simon Wraith".
  • Siren does this with the word "shibito" -- normally "corpse"; in the context it's used in the game, closer to "zombie" or "ghoul" -- for stylistic reasons.
  • Volgin's "Kuwabara, kuwabara" Catch Phrase in Metal Gear Solid 3 was an obscure mythology reference which Japanese gamers would have picked up on immediately, but which went straight over the heads of Western gamers. Annoyingly, the game retained conversations where Snake would radio back to base to ask about the significance of the names 'ADAM and EVA', which Western gamers picked up on immediately but Japanese gamers would require an explanation for. Metal Gear Solid 3 did suffer from a comparatively poor localisation, afraid to take many liberties with the original Japanese, so there was no attempt in the English version to rewrite the Adam and Eve translation to explain what the hell Volgin was on about.
    • (For those wondering, it's a superstition: if you say it, it's supposed to ward off lightning. However, this is also an example of Did Not Do the Research since Volgin is Russian (and a member of the Red Army from The Cold War era of the '60s, to boot) and due to his position, it could be considered awkward for a Russian soldier in that era to use Japanese phrases, due to the fact that Russians despised the Japanese for defeating the Russians in the Russo Japanese War, and even more after the Japanese were defeated in World War II.)
  • The English voice tracks for Ryu, Ken, and Gouken in Street Fighter IV replace "Tatsumaki Senpuukyaku" (literally "Hurricane Spinning Kick") with generic grunts. They fully voice the "Hadoken" and "Shoryuken."
    • Actually, Gouken does call out the name of his Tatsumaki Gou Rasen... but only when using its EX variant. The same applies applies for several characters who actually didn't say the name of their specials before (such as Rose's Soul Spiral, Guy's Hozanto, and Cody's Criminal Upper).
    • Strangely, English Ryu still yells "Shinkuu Tatsumaki!" ("Vacuum Hurricane") during his EX Hurricane Kick (a toned down version of his Shinkuu Tatsumaki Senpukyaku super from earlier games). Meanwhile, Akuma no longer calls out "Gou Zankuu" and his "Isshin Shungeki" quote is translated to "Die one thousand deaths!" but the finishing taunt, "Metsu!" remains untranslated.
      • Somewhat rectified in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Aside of his Joudan Sokutou Geri (his donkey kick from III, which was never called out anyway), Ryu actually names all of his specials and hypers in English, Tatsumaki Senpuukyaku included. Akuma still doesn't say "Gou Zankuu!" during his Zankuu Hadouken, but he does call out his Tenma Gou Zankuu hyper, which is a first.
    • The very first Street Fighter actually did use English voice clips for the Tatsumaki-Senpuu-Kyaku, Shoryuken, and Hadouken (translated as Hurricane Kick, Dragon Punch, and, oddly enough, Psycho Fire).
  • Kaijin No Soki, in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars, although previous promotional videos for Tatsunokovs Capcom: Cross Generation of Heroes had shown his name as Souki. Probably to avoid confusion with Quiz Nanairo Dreams S'aki Omokane, who is listed as just "Saki."
  • Squall's Renzokuken (roughly translates to "Continual Sword". Kind of odd considering the amount of trouble the localizers went through to rename everything else in the game, and the world has no Wutai to Hand Wave the change in language.
    • Stranger still, the playable demo of Final Fantasy VIII actually did translate the name as "C. Sword".
    • The FF series as a whole has the Odin summon's attack, "Zantetsuken" ("iron-cutting sword"). Only FFVI and FFVII ever bothered to translate it ("Atom Edge" and "Steel Bladed Sword", respectively); it's been left alone in every other incarnation.
      • Soul Blazer also leaves its "Zantetsu Sword" alone, but thankfully it reminds you in the Flavor Text that it's effective on metallic mooks.
    • Final Fantasy IX has Guest Star Party Member Beatrix's special skill menu named "Seiken" ("Holy Sword"), despite her being a knight of a pseudo-medieval european nation.
    • Final Fantasy X features the summon Yojimbo and his attacks Kozuka, Wakizashi, and Zanmato, all left untranslated for purely stylistic reasons.
    • Final Fantasy V left all Samurai job class skills untranslated, creating some confusion in what the skills did and especially when some of them are normally translated in other games in the series.
  • Similarly, .hack//G.U.'s Rengeki, which is simply "Chain Attack".
  • In the first Mega Man X, one of the bosses is named Boomer Kuwanger -- "kuwagata" meaning "stag beetle" in Japanese, befitting the boss's appearance and movements. But it sounds better this way.
  • Persona 3 and its sequel Persona 4 leave sempai alone, as well as leave in many other Japanese suffixes (-kun, -chan) and other culturally specific items and events. However, it doesn't leave them in nearly as often as people complain, and "sempai" really doesn't have a proper sounding equivalent in English. The closest being "upperclassman," which is never used. Not to mention the games use "sempai" frequently to get around situations where the main character's name would have to be used in spoken dialog.
  • In The World Ends With You (which, okay, takes place in Shibuya), indie rock singer 777 says "Domo arigato" a few times, and Ken Doi will welcome you into his ramen shop with "Irasshaimase!". It got a little silly when you got a list of different types of ramen with japanese name + translation, such as "Shio Ramen (salty)".
  • Probably done for Rule of Cool, all of Zero's (or Layer's) moves were left untranslated in Mega Man X 8 and Mega Man X 4.
    • In the Mega Man Zero games themselves, the bosses call out their moves and catch phrases in Japanese.
      • Its not like Capcom of America bothered to record any english voices for the Zero series anyway, they actually cut some lines Zero's companions says to him while he's in the headquarters, Ciel's "Okaeri" (welcome home) is rare (it might even be glitch or left-over they forgot to cut) to hear in US/PAL versions, in the JP ones her welcome lines are frequent
  • Miles Edgeworth: Ace Attorney left the term "hinomaru", referencing the Japanese flag, alone. Strange in that they could have simply translated it or localized it, given the franchises' love of Woolseyisms.
  • In the Monster Rancher series, the name of the Suzurin monster species is a Japanese pun regarding the monster's appearance and Japanese history. The dubbers probably couldn't think up a good alternative name that kept the same feeling, so they left it as-was for the US.
  • A curious example: in the old Captain America and The Avengers arcade beat-em-up, one of the bosses the Avengers fight is a giant robot octopus called the Mecha Tako. "Tako," of course, means "octopus" in Japanese, so the name makes some degree of sense; however, when the game first came out, the vast majority of people who would be playing it wouldn't know that, which no doubt led to no small number of players wondering what the giant robot octopus had to do with poorly-spelled Mexican food.
  • From Aoi Shiro: "Momo-chan sure is genki..."


Western Animation

  • In-universe example in Adventure Time when Lady Rainicorn tells Jake a joke.

 Rainicorn (in Korean): Hmm, I can't think of one... But remember that time when we ran naked through that farmer's cabbage patch?! (Giggle) He was so offended.

Jake (in Korean): Heh... Let's not talk about that. (both laugh)

Finn: What's the joke?

Jake: Oh, uh... The joke doesn't... translate very well. It'd probably be boring if I told it.


Real Life

  • The word schadenfreude is often used by English speaking people directly, though justified in that the concept it portrays (joy from the suffering of others) is slightly longer than the word itself.
  • Many Latin terms, especially abbreviations (e.g., i.e., etc.), are commonly used by English speakers, presumably because they sound cool. The legal world is rife with these: de jure, de facto, habeas corpus...
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