Translation is something of a difficult process. When translating from one language to another (Japanese to English or vice versa being an example [[MostTropersAreYoungNerds many readers]] will be familiar with) there are a number of cultural quirks and little rules for you to consider. (See GratuitousJapanese for more on this.)

So, there are basically five ways translators go about their work (and three in which they hopefully don't):
----
'''1'''. CutAndPasteTranslation: It shouldn't be too hard to guess what method this is. This can be fairly advantageous for the viewer who is otherwise unfamiliar with the source material (hey, no cultural changes for you to appreciate[=/=][[ValuesDissonance go "what the blank" over]]!), but hardcore fans of the original will feel violated to say the least (and if done without the consent or knowledge of the original producers, ''[[FlameWar they]]'' can feel rather violated as well).

!!Examples

* Just about any anime dubbed by [[FourKidsEntertainment 4Kids Entertainment]]. This still leaves out stuff like ''FunkyCops'' and the more recent ''VideoGame/DinosaurKing'', both which are perfectly faithful to the original.
* ''{{Robotech}}'', the original anime example.
** In order to reach the 65 episodes needed for syndication, ''Robotech'' combines a fairly faithful adaptation of ''SuperDimensionFortressMacross'' with two other series (''SuperDimensionalCavalrySouthernCross'' and ''GenesisClimberMOSPEADA'') whose adaptations defined the term {{Macekre}}.
** Some more snobbish anime fans often forget that the airing of ''Robotech'' was the single reason many people became interested in anime to begin with, let alone RealRobot anime, and could very well be one of the catalysts for anime's popularity in the U.S. twenty years later.
* Outside of anime, there are far fewer examples of this. One of note, however was Eric Thompson's translations of ''TheMagicRoundabout'' for TheBBC, in which only the visuals of the original French versions were used. Thompson made up his own storylines which were conveyed by the dubbed narration.
* Like ''TheMagicRoundabout'', the UK dub of ''WesternAnimation/{{Insektors}}'' abandoned the original French lines for brand new lines with lots of regional accents. The US dub was less creative.
* ''Anime/SamuraiPizzaCats'' fell into this by necessity, since Saban was not given scripts along with the footage. The staff made up their own names, stories and dialogue. As with the previous example, very few people even know or care about the original, and the English version is considered quite good in its own right.
* The Creator/DiC dub of ''Anime/SailorMoon''.
** Cloverway's dub of S and Super S wasn't as bad. It did, however, try to continue where [=DiC=] left off (using their terms and names) as well as trying to be faithful to the original. It didn't mesh well.
* Every dub of the original ''Anime/ScienceNinjaTeamGatchaman'' series (with the exception of the ADV dub), including ''Anime/BattleOfThePlanets'', ''G-Force: Guardians of Space'', and Saban's ''Anime/EagleRiders''.

----
'''1.5'''. [[Creator/StreamlinePictures Streamlined]]: Somewhere between CutAndPasteTranslation and {{Woolseyism}}. With Streamlined dubs, the plot is usually kept intact, although almost all dialogue is thrown out the window and replaced. [[Manga/{{Akira}} Sometimes]], this works [[{{Woolseyism}} quite well.]] Creator/StreamlinePictures, the TropeNamer, and Creator/MangaEntertainment UK were very famous for this style of dubbing.

!!Examples:

* ''MDGeist''
* ''GenoCyber''
* ''CyberCityOedo808''
* ''Manga/{{Akira}}''
* ''AngelCop''
* ''ViolenceJack''
* ''MadBull34''
* ''DeadLeaves'' is either this or the single greatest Woolseyism ever.

----
'''2'''. {{Woolseyism}}: Named on [=TVTropes=] after Ted Woolsey, who was known for his more pragmatic translations of games. This approach is formally referred to as ''dynamic equivalence''; the general idea is that the translation should give the foreign audience the same experience as the original, even if some details have to be altered and some aspects that would [[ValuesDissonance cause]] [[UnfortunateImplications controversy]] or fail to translate sensibly just have to be left out. The general guideline when using this method is that the work needs to be self-contained; if the script contains references or connotations that wouldn't be obvious to the target audience, those elements should probably be left out or changed. It's probably the best tool for a ''localization'': the purists get their original storyline intact (more or less), but you don't need an introductory lesson in a foreign language and culture to understand what's going on. Of course, the ''hardcore'' purists will still hate it. But when you get right down to it, [[TheyChangedItNowItSucks the hardcore purists hate everything]] -- they should probably stick to the original language of the production in question.

!!Examples:

* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVI''
* ''VideoGame/ChronoTrigger''
* The ''AceAttorney'' series.
* The ''VideoGame/PaperMario'' series.
* The Spanish translation of "WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerb" has a lot of this. One of the songs translated goes like this "ornitorrinco, australiano, mamífero, semi-acuático, agente." (a platapy australian, mammal, agent) instead of a "semi-aquatic egg laying mammal of action". This, for the hispanic audience avoids the {{WMG}} of, is perry a girl? or else, why would he be egg laying? (and makes it rhyme)
* The [[VideoGame/MarioAndLuigi Mario & Luigi]] Series not only has this, but Fawful speaks in [[IntentionalEngrishForFunny Engrish,]] an obvious TakeThat to the original language.
* ''Anime/{{Naruto}}'''s dub probably qualifies. The character names and general setting are left intact, but all the jutsu names and other general terminology are translated, not literally at times.
** Case in point: When Jiraiya comes to the rescue with a giant toad to crush a three-headed snake, the name of the Ninja Art Summoning Jutsu in Japanese is Yatai Kuzushi no Jutsu or Food Cart Destroyer Technique. The English version (Whoo, David Lodge!) has the name rendered as Bring Down the House Jutsu. While just being plain funny for an attack name, it's also very appropriate given Jiraiya's hammy personality. The fact that the toad itself could very likely actually smoosh a house helps too!
* When translations of well-known plays in other languages aren't directly 'academic' or [[CutAndPasteTranslation cut-and-paste]], they can get this treatment. For instance, a particularly interesting translation of Chekhov's Three Sisters involves a servant saying 'Up yours, butterballs'.
* The ''{{Asterix}}'' series. Although faithful to the general plots and spirit of the originals, many of the jokes and puns are completely changed in the English version. Notably, a lot of afficionados feel that the [[PunnyName punny names]] are even better in the English version.
* ''VagrantStory'', ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXII'' and the PSP version of ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyTactics'' (the original PSX version was an {{Engrish}} wonderland).
* Any of the Disney-[[StudioGhibli Ghibli]] dubs. The character's names, stories, and overall plots remain true to the originals, even though the translations are often liberal (and in the case of ''KikisDeliveryService'' and ''CastleInTheSky'', contin some additional pieces of music; the latter of which was done by, interestingly, the original composer himself, JoeHisaishi, to Miyazaki's personal approval). Of course there are fans who insist that the Japanese versions and/or previous English translations are the only way to experience his films... but there are others who have responded otherwise.
** Come to think of it, didn't [[WordOfGod Miyazaki himself]] say that the ideal experience for any viewer is in their own language--i.e. dubbed?
* Brazilian translation for Harry Potter uses it. The character's and the four houses' names were changed, probably due the age of target public of the books when they were published. But most Brazilian fans dislike these translated names, and they're usually not used.
* Most games translated by Working Designs, particularly the ''{{Lunar}}'' series.
* Most translations of ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'' novels. The first edition of ''The Discworld Companion'' has a piece about the Dutch translator, trying to figure out the Dutch equivalent of comparing Granny's FlyingBroomstick to "[[TheAllegedCar a split-window Morris Minor]]".
* Pretty much most, if not all, non-English versions of the ''LordOfTheRings'' series was rooted into this. Tolkien himself provided detailed indications for translating the names for places, characters, artifacts and so on, when not giving the translation himself (as he was a [[{{Omniglot}} polyglot]]).
* ''LightNovel/{{Baccano}}!'''s translation and dub was specifically written to give off the air of old-time gangster flick. Research involved watching entirely too many James Cagney and 1930 crime movies.
----
'''3'''. Formal equivalence: Some productions, however, decide they're going the direct route. The story is getting straight-up translated, ValuesDissonance be damned, and no pesky [[FirstNameBasis honorific changes]], [[KansaiRegionalAccent dialect jokes]], or [[UsefulNotes/JapaneseCulture cultural variations]] are going to get in the way. This is the most ''literal'' of the methods, typically translating only dialogue and [[TooLongDidntDub leaving anything that doesn't directly translate fully intact]]. The downside to this is that a lot of the necessary elements for full understanding don't make the journey overseas with the dialogue; as a result, J. Random Viewer (lacking proper context) is left scratching his head, as some lines will [[DubInducedPlotHole sound strange]] or seem to come out of nowhere. In the worst cases, some figures of speech may be translated literally, instead of going with an equivalent from the vernacular language or simply translating the meaning. The hardcore purists will probably hate it, too; they'll just use it as another example of "[[SubbingVersusDubbing how dubbing is the devil's work]]," for instance.

!!Examples:

* ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'' is particularly {{egregious}}. Only three recurring terms in the dub were translated: [[TheGrimReaper shinigami]] (to Soul Reaper, likely to distance itself from the western conception of the idea); the Gotei 13 (to the 13 Court Guard Squads); and "[[{{Mana}} reiatsu]]" (to "spiritual energy" or "spiritual pressure"). Everything else -- shikai and bankai, [[EmpathicWeapon zanpakuto]], spell names and incantations, even wordplay gags about the proper usage of one's first name and philosophical metaphors regarding old parables -- was left pretty much completely intact.
** "Soul Reaper" is creator Tite Kubo's preferred translation of shinigami. It even appears on some Japanese ''Bleach'' merchandise.
** In more recent episodes you can move that down to two: reiatsu is it at least part of the time left untranslated now.
** To be fair, the Bleach dub also changes the naming conventions, and has half-Japanese half-Mexican Yasutora "Chad" Sado going by his westernized name. It is still one of the most literal of translations.
* ''[[Franchise/DotHack .hack//]]'', even to the point of characters being unsure of how a character's written name is "read". Not [[HollywoodSpelling spelled]], ''read''.
* ''Manga/DeathNote'''s dub drifts into this direction. The public's name for Light ("Kira", an [[GratuitousEnglish Engrish]] rendering of the English word "killer") is left intact, as is [[TheGrimReaper shinigami]]. The TranslationConvention also appears to be in full effect, with no attempt at a whitewash. This is sort of necessary: consider how often tiny details that involve language (especially [[HollywoodSpelling how names are written]]) can be extremely important. However, the literal translations can make things confusing sometimes; at one point Misa notes that Light's name also means "moon". Unless someone knows Japanese (and as a result knows that the symbol used for Light's name can, with a different pronunciation, mean "moon") this line is likely to confuse them.
** The sub does this at times too -- notably, a saying that we would consider equivalent to "an eye for an eye" is literally translated to "one time is one time", leaving some members of the audience scratching their heads.
*** The Viz manga does that too, as "once is once!" Members of the audience on this very wiki were still confused.
** The original work goes out of its way to point out Kira is derived from the word killer, so it's extremely likely that having them keep the name Kira was in respect for that.
*** The Viz translation even spells "Kira" as "Killa" in chapter 21, in the notes written by prisoners - though the original uses the standard katakana spelling, and when we first see the note in volume 1, it's still spelt as Kira. Maybe L fiddled the note to throw Light off.
* OlderThanPrint: Most early translations of Latin poetry into the vernacular.
* ''{{Hellsing}}'' provides another example. A proper translation taking into account English names and titles would have resulted in "Dame Integra" (a female knight, as opposed to "Sir Integra").
** Then again, Hellsing is not a proper example, at least in the manga -- the American translators decided to randomly give Father Anderson a Scottish accent and had the Major speak with an exaggerated German accent even when he was supposedly speaking in German.
* Although a less extreme example of this type, ''VideoGame/StarOceanTheSecondStory'' for the PSX was widely derided for its bland, overly literal translation, resulting in conversations that barely made sense and stripped out most of the entertainment value in favor of literalism.
* ''VideoGame/{{Persona 3}}'' kept food and place names intact, along with Japanese honorifics like -chan and -san. Did not cause undue confusion, as most fans of the game would understand what those mean anyway.
** The sequel ''VideoGame/{{Persona 4}}'' did the same thing. Atlus went as far as including a glossary including all the non-translated terms.
* ''FateStayNight'' hovers along the sliding scale here; the anime drifted more toward Woolseyism, while the otherwise appreciated fan translation by Mirror Moon erred on the side of a BlindIdiotTranslation.
** For one example, Mirror Moon often literally translates the expression, "the time the date changes", which Western viewers would understand clearer as simply "midnight".
----
'''3A'''. The same, but with footnotes, liner notes, or captions to explain the details. Widely used by fansubbers of anime. [[DontExplainTheJoke Explaining a joke may make it not be very funny]], but some cultural references work a lot better this way:

!!Examples

* The Finnish translation of the ''GingaNagareboshiGin'' manga uses footnotes for the translations of the different [[SpecialAttack Battougas]]. They are seldom used otherwise.
* Done with the translation of ''Anime/ExcelSaga'' in the anime, though the notes were deleted from the collected edition [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Price_discrimination to encourage fans with more money to buy the more expensive one.]]
** The [[Manga/ExcelSaga manga translation]], on the other hand, mostly goes the {{Woolseyism}} route. But each volume does have translation notes in the back.
** The anime translation did resort to {{Woolseyism}} when absolutely necessary, however, such as adjusting GratuitousEnglish jokes in the "Animation USA" episode, and the names of [[{{Toku}} Municipal Force Daitenzin]] from reference to Japanese stores like IMS and Tenjin Core to stores likes Macy's and [[Franchise/EvilDead S-Mart]].
* ''Creator/{{Animeigo}}'' was well-known for this, and actually had paper liner notes in the days before [=DVDs=], but has also adapted references at times.
* Common with notes on the top of the screen among [[FanTranslation fansubs]].
* Towards the end of its individual novel run, ''Manga/AzumangaDaioh'' had 'Translator Notes' in the back to help explain a few things; they did admit to dipping into method 2 for a couple of very language-dependent jokes. Note that the anime actually kept the jokes as is, for the most part. ''Yotsuba&'' seems to be adding the comments in the gutters between frames in the manga.
* Del Rey Manga seems to go this route often, including translation notes (including two pages on name suffixes like "-san" and "-kun") in ''{{Negima}}'', ''TsubasaReservoirChronicle'' and ''XXXHolic''.
** Too bad the people who adapted the dialogue for the first few volumes of Negima [[GagDub didn't get the memo]]...
* The fansub of ''PaniPoniDash'', a WidgetSeries with so many in-jokes you have to freeze-frame to get all of them, had a PDF file accompany each episode explaining the references. These files often ran to ''a page a minute'': over 20 pages for a 22-minute episode.
** In the ADV Films release, there's a separate subtitle track where all the writing in the background is translated as well as pop-up cultural notes. Trying to read the extended subtitles and the cultural notes ''and'' see the action is nearly impossible (all the extra information covers a lot of it up anyway, and is really only meant for a second or third watchthrough).
* The translated ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' '''manga''' does this... [[TalkingIsAFreeAction during the]] [[YouAreTheTranslatedForeignWord characters' speeches]]. For example, Sasuke would say, "Katon! Gokakyu no Jutsu! The art of the Fireball!" which sounds awkward.
** Also done in the Brazilian edition of ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'' with the Zanpakutou of the Espadas when they perform the Ressurrección - even though they came in Spanish names, which would be easy enough to understand, the translating team always appends the meaning of the kanji provided by Tite Kubo for the name (for example, Ulquiorra's would be "Murciélago, Great Demon with Black Wings").
* ''Anime/LuckyStar'' technically falls under this one due to its American release. Considering the abundance of many of the anime and cultural references, Bandai Entertainment had the foresight to include a 4 page pamphlet of liner notes for any particular volume. While some of the references are incredibly obvious and don't need mentioning (they do it anyway), they go so far as to include things that can only be noticed when watching the show with the Japanese language track, even if the dub had used language in such a way that none of the original context was lost.
** Bandai's translation of the manga is the same way.
*** And the first two volumes were a pain to read for anyone who cares about English sentence structure and grammar. Whoever was supposed to be doing the translating (i.e. the anime's translator) wasn't doing a particularly good job, even with the notes at the end, making it almost impossible to know what the joke was supposed to be. The third volume had much better English, and probably because the translator was replaced according to the credits at the end of the three volumes.
* The official translations of ''Literature/HarryPotter'' into Chinese have notes explaining jokes like "it's getting blacker every day" and other things that don't translate very well in Chinese. It gets a little silly, however, when they have explanations for things that shouldn't even be explained. For example, in the [[Literature/HarryPotterAndTheHalfBloodPrince sixth book]], when there are only three people in potions because of Apparation lessons, there is a footnote explaining that they are all turning seventeen after the lessons, or something like that.
* Also common for modern translations of older works, especially classics -- ''Literature/TheIliad'' or ''Literature/TheOdyssey'', for example--though often the translators choose a more pragmatic (Woolseyist) than literal approach.
** This is most common for scholarly editions, where accuracy is the most important thing (besides, the scholars usually either know the ancient/foreign culture already or are using the text as a gateway to it).
* The legal translation of ''Manga/{{Rinne}}'' is this out of necessity, as it is being translated and put online a very short time after the Japanese publication. They don't have enough time to even replace visual sound effects, so everything is explained in the margins, and what can't be there is explain on the section of the translators' blog noted.
* The English version of ''SayonaraZetsubouSensei'' (manga) features several pages of notes at the back of the volume, and even with that they make a point of saying that there are so many references and details, they don't have enough room to explain them all.
----
'''4'''. BlindIdiotTranslation: What happens when the people responsible for the translation [[TheyJustDidntCare just don't care]]. Grammar rules will be violated and homonyms may have the wrong meaning translated. Fortunately, the vast, vast majority of serious commercial releases rarely fall into this category, but there are a depressing number of 1980s video games that were translated in this manner. And let's not even [[TranslationTrainWreck get started on]] [[BlindIdiotTranslation bootlegs]]...

!!Examples

* ''ZeroWing'' cannot be forgotten to be mention.
* The original translation of ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'' [[MemeticMutation are sick!]]
* The first ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZelda'' game lost some [[GuideDangIt vital clues]] thanks to this.
* The English subs on the Hong Kong [=DVDs=] of ''Franchise/YuGiOh Duel Monsters'' (which are apparently the only subs you can find) are ''infamous'' for this.
* SNK were imfamous for this.
----
'''5'''. RecursiveTranslation: The exclusive domain of Hong Kong bootleggers. Want to translate something but don't know any English? Translate it into your language and Babelfish it into English! Better yet, if you don't even know the language you're translating it ''from'', you can Babelfish it into your language and then Babelfish ''that'' translation into English! Now you too can translate anything from any language into any other language without understanding either!

!!Examples

* Every single UsefulNotes/HongKong bootleg DVD that doesn't just rip the R1 subtitle track or download an existing fansub script off the Internet.
** [[MemeticMutation Do not want]]
* Before broadband internet became widespread in Poland a large chunk of the pirated games market was controlled by Russian bootleggers. They sometimes attempted to localize English PC games into Polish, but in their case they usually knew some Polish but didn't know English. The results were [[SoBadItsGood amusing]].
* ''[[JustForFun/PokemonVietnameseCrystal Pokémon Vietnamese Crystal]]'' is infamous for this. The game's Japanese > Chinese > English translation, and the [[HilarityEnsues hilarity that ensued]], are the sole reasons for this game's popularity and memetic status.
----