What's Happening

This is discussion archived from a time before the current discussion method was installed.

Fred The intro states that this type of change is commonplace outside videogames, but it doesn't seem so. Just to quote a passage from "The Journal of Specialised Translation".

"Although it shares some similarities with screen translation and software localisation, game localisation stands apart because its ultimate goal is to offer entertainment for the end-user. (...) No oddities should be present to disturb the interactive game experience, and this is the reason why game localisers are granted quasi absolute freedom to modify, omit, and even add any elements which they deem necessary to bring the game closer to the players and to convey the original feel of gameplay. And, in so doing, the **traditional concept of fidelity to the original is discarded. In game localisation, transcreation, rather than just translation, takes place**. "

I feel this page should focus on "Woolseyism" as a kind of heavy adaptation specific to videogames (After all the term is really not used outside that area).

Space Drake: And the absolutely massive compiled list of "Woolseyisms" on this page mean absolutely nothing to you, then?

The trope should stand as it is. "Woolseyism" is simply a TVT term for the larger concept of "dynamic equivalence". I'll note in the introduction that the trope applies especially heavily to videogames, but as the very trope page shows, it happens in nearly any medium where works are translated from one language into another.

You also seem to have confused Woolseyism with Macekre, which is a wholly different beast in which scripts are thrown out and rewritten entirely. Woolseyisms are where the wording of the script may be altered significantly, but the meaning is carried through, even across cultural gaps.

HeartBurn Kid: Just because the term originates from videogame fandom, and it's most common in videogames, doesn't mean it doesn't happen elsewhere. And singling out videogames because videogames are meant for entertainment... what, are you saying that TV shows, comic books, etc. are not meant to entertain?

Fred: The meaning of a neologism like "Woolseyism" is very fluid and, of course, there should be agreement on what we refer by it. However: 1) The term originates in gaming, and more precisely in relationship with Woolsey's RPG translations from Japanese to English 2) Said translations seem to have some special traits, sufficient for specific studies on specialist magazines.

In my opinion it would be interesting to discuss Woolseyism in this page simply as the "Woolsey style" kind of videogame translation. Has it got points in common with "dynamic equivalence"? Great! Let's see which ones. Has it got unique traits? The double translation of "Advance Wars DS" is very interesting in this direction, as Woolseyisms make for a different experience between the US and the more faithful EURO version.

To answer the questions. Space Drake: I saw the examples from other fields, but I just think a page called Woolseyism would benefit from focusing on game translations. If we made a page about "Vespa", it would be of course interesting saying that it's a scooter like many others and that it takes many concepts from the Lambretta and that motorbikes have been around from centuries and they work in the same way... this doesn't forbid to talk about the quirks of the Vespa itself. Heart Burn Kid: Don't misunderstand me. That study is interesting because, in substance, it analalyses Woolseyisms on a academic level, comparing them to translations in other fields. This is largely incidental: Square has a custom of getting people from other areas like her and parachuting them into games translation. On that experience she assumed that games translations are like that because "they are meant to entertain", but the reality is that she saw translations like that because she worked for the House of Woolsey. Maybe some other non-english troper can confirm or deny this, but my experience in games translations tells me that Woolseyisms are almost exclusive to JP>EN versions. In the other languages, the only significative one I can really think of are the French versions of GTA: San Andreas and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City that had everything translated in slang (including the game interface). Even text heavy games, prone to adaptation like Psychonauts or Fable get transfered almost verbatim (plus the odd aproximation translation mistake).

Ronfar: "You Spoony Bard" wasn't Ted Woolsey's doing; he had nothing to do with the Final Fantasy IV Engrish translation. Supposedly, "You Spoony Bard!" was a result of a rather inept attempt at censoring a Japanese profanity. I replaced the quote with a Kefka quote that Woolsey inserted and was retained in the re-translation. For the record, Woolsey's Kefka is way better than the more faithful GBA Kefka.

DomaDoma: Well, the GBA Kefka got plenty of his own Woolseyisms; I like "there's a reason 'oppose' rhymes with 'dispose'!" myself. (The GBA Cyan is five times the awesome Woolsey's was, anyway - there's a lot to be said for Woolsey, but Elizabethan dialect is not one of them. If only there were a Chrono Trigger for GBA...)

Xander77 - I'm sorry, but can you... cite your sources and stuff? Yes, we're no wikipedia and all that, BUT. At the moment, the only people who are aware of Woolsey, are geeks. Geeks generally tend to argue with great venom against any translation changes and the people who make them. In fact, before reading this entry, I've to see a single POSITIVE reference to Ted on the intertubes. So... the concept of a "Translation Distillation/Adapatation" may be good, while Woosleyism... isn't.

Steel Beast 6 Beets - Just pay a visit to your nearest Final Fantasy VI forum, make a topic discussing this subject and watch for yourself. I've witnessed countless flaw wars start by someone innocently expressing his/her dislike about Woolsey's localization.
Rebochan This page is rather ridiculous - Ted Woolsey is not a polarizing figure because of evil fans who hate him and good fans who appreciate his magical ability to fix all that is wrong with gaming. He's a polarizing figure because most people remember his old scripts and anyone with any familiarity with the Japanese scripts knows he made up about half the dialogue because he barely knew Japanese. Case in point - compare the GBA FFVI script to the SNES one.

Tanto: But that's the point. Woolsey made great, sweeping changes to the scripts, changes that had little to no basis in the originals, but many of them are still fondly remembered by fans. (Yeah, yeah, purists, but ask anyone who they like better: Japanese "Cefka" or American Kefka, and we'll see who wins.)

The entry is not intended to fawn over Woolsey, it's just named after him. It's just a name; you should really just relax.

There's a faction of fans who will rage against any sort of changes at all, and they're entitled to that opinion. But it doesn't mean they're right, or that they comprise the entire population.

Xander77: Excuse me for repeating myself. THIS PAGE is the first time I've ever seen anyone say ANYTHING positive about Woolsey. Could you please point me to a place where I can find such fans?

Ninjacrat: I'm not clear what you actually want here. The page to condemn him harder? For it to be called something else? A cookie?

What are you getting worked up about here?

Xander77: B. But also C.

Tanto: Like attracts like. People who like or dislike Woolsey gravitate to one another. I can't give you citations or anything, but I've seen several discussions which have nothing but scathing contempt for more literalist fan translations of games like FFVI and Chrono Trigger.

Rebochan: My point was only that the page seems to exist to paint people who criticize the Woolsey scripts as unpleasable purists. For example, the inclusion of the Final Fantasy VI script or the Chrono Trigger script - people *remember* them well, but they are radically different from the Japanese scripts and wanting the option of a new script that is closer to what the creators had in mind is not diehard purism. I can see, say, Phoenix Wright being here, because the script changes were not made to censor or change the plot, but to attempt to translate a *very* localized style of humor. For example, things like the name changes were actually consistent with the jokes in the Japanese script, just Anglicized (especially the more outrageous names).

A new name might be more in order. Or a cookie. Well, I'd prefer the name. The cookie is only to bribe my silence.

Gambrinus: I don't think it needs a new name, since I've run into Woolseyism out in the wild before I ever frequented this site. I do think the description could use changed to drop the "but the changes are good!" angle. There are large, vocal portions of the fanbase who hate any changes, period, (or at least think they do...if you translate without any changes, it's really not going to make sense in English) and would be more satisfied if you had to read pages of translation notes before you got any of the jokes in a comedy. Why make this page unnecessarily subjective when it could just be about attempts to make things more palatable in the localization process, mention that reception can be mixed, and be done with it?

Rebochan: That's a good direction to take this. I'll see if I can't get the intro a little closer to what you suggested.

Zephid: Guess it's subjective trope. I thought the change from "Lightbringer" to "Illumina" in Final Fantasy VI was a good example of a Woolseyism.
  • In the English dub of Bleach, Shinigamis are known as Soul Reapers after the western concept of the Grim Reaper.

Tanto: Shinigami themselves, as a concept, are based off the western concept of The Grim Reaper. (Look it up.) Tite Kubo himself has said that "Soul Reaper" is a more accurate translation of his intent.

Prfnoff: Added this material to the trope page on Shinigami.
Pro-Mole: Just trivia; so the "Time Devourer"(Chrono Cross) is the dragon or Lavos? Which one is right and which one is another thing(and what is it)?

Rebochan: The Time Devourer is Lavos. In the Japanese game, the boss fight just before it at the top of Terra Tower was the Lunar Dragon. This is a serious translation error because the Lunar Dragon is Harle. The battle is something of an emotional one when you realize you have to kill her. The translation change muddles this - it just seems like a generic boss fight with a nonsense name. Also, the Time Devourer is only appropriate for Lavos, and the meaning of the name is explained in both translations.

Vehek: It's not a translation error. There's a picture comparing screenshots of battles against the two bosses in the Japanese version. They clearly have the same name.
Tanto: Kefka's lines in the Woolsey translation are intentionally hilarious. Narm deals with things that are supposed to seem serious, but come across as funny instead.

Cidolfas: Regarding the "missed reference" in changing Alfador to Guile for Chrono Cross... it's actually smarter than you think. Alfador wouldn't fit, so maybe they could have used "Alf", but that sounds too much like a certain TV alien. The truth is that Chrono Cross is based off of a little-known pseudo-sequel called "Radical Dreamers", released in Japan for the SNES Satelliview. In there is a character called "Magil" who is later revealed to be Magus from Chrono Trigger. "Guile" is a reference to Magil. According to interviews, Guile was actually supposed to be Magus, but they ran out of space and/or development time to adequately flesh it out.

It seems that this article exists almost entirely as a dumping box for praise of dubs (which may or may not be a bad thing, but, that's not the point of this wiki). I agree with Rebochan's assessments and think that the term/examples need modifcations and cuts. Alternately, the equivalent 'bad dub' sort of page for things less outlandish than the offered variant; the problem is that many would probably list many of these same examples viewed negatively (for example, some do not view Yuna's dialogue change at the end of FFX to have been a positive change, for reasons besides literal accuracy).

Could this quote count as an example? If not, would it fit under another trope? —Document N
Kerrah: I hope I won't get killed for removing the bulk of Harry Potter examples. It just felt like people shouting "my translation is better than your translation!" (For the record, the Finnish translation is best.)

(later edit) And another purge. Seriously, people, we don't need to know every change made by every translator.
Rebochan: Did some general cleanup, mostly to get rid of the accursed This Troper. Also took out anything that wasn't actually talking about translations at all, plus a few that were just "OMG! I love this line so much better!" without really giving any insight to why it would be notable.
Cliché: Okay, Trogga apparently has issues with me tagging this as "Subjective". I don't see why. Okay, it can be interpreted as simply localization changes to attempt to fit with the culture of localization, but in practice, the description associates it with "good dubs" and the examples are unanimously indicative of a "positive"-flavoured trope, so while it may not be subjective in theory, it is subjective in its current state. There's also the fact that I personally would regard Anglicized dub names as fitting for localization despite those being reviled by the anime fandom in general if you want an example of why this is subjective or perhaps an idea of how to make it not subjective. (06/03/09)

Trogga: We could do what we did with Macekre/Cut-and-Paste Translation.
Heroic Jay: I removed a few sentences about "many" of Kefka's lines being changed in the GBA version of the game. Only two "funny" lines were changed in any significant way, one by a single word - and both were already mentioned on the page, so it felt like either pointless whining or lack of research.