Yeah... What he said.note Also, they didn't translate Ryuketsu...
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because of an assumption it shouldn't be translated, or simply because a grammatically correct term sounds odd, outdated or just weird.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 aBowdlerised 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 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. Contrast Translate the Loanwords Too, where the translator translates something which wouldn't need changing.
The trope's namesake is a play on the common internet phrase Too Long; Didn't Read.
open/close all folders
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.
"That's why... [beat] [explanation]" crops up a lot, even in subtitles, as the go-to translation for anything resembling this sentence structure in Japanese, despite the fact that nobody talks like that in English and there's usually a less weird-sounding way to write it.
"Kore wa..." is almost always translated as "This is...". While an acceptable translation, the phrase is often used when a character is supposed to be shocked or confused - and really, when's the last time you heard someone say "This is..." when they were surprised? It's more along the lines of "What...?"
The Sailor Moon fandom will almost always refer to the Ginzuishou by that name, even though a translation is 100% possible ("Silver Crystal"); likewise with the Sailor Senshi (Sailor Soldiers).
The Kaizoku-Fansubs "translation" of One Piece does this with attack names (which otherwise have little relevance) and words such as "nakama".note It was due largely to their zealous followers that the True Companions trope remained "nakama" for several years, over the objections of many tropers. For what it's worth, "nakama" can be translated pretty easily; it means "comrades"... but that word can't be used in America, so "crew" or "friends" has to do. 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 (or possibly Shueisha, since the Viz manga also uses "Haki").
However, One Piece kinda justifies this in some 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 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.
In a rare inversion, the 4Kids dub (of all things) called the Flower-Flower Fruit "the Hana-Hana fruit", but the uncut Funimation version translated it.
In most circles, the Shichibukai are simply called that, as it's pretty much a word that Oda made up. Literally, it best translates to "Seven Military Seas", which, seeing how the title applies to people, doesn't exactly make sense. 4Kids renamed them to the "Seven Warlords of the Sea", which was then picked up by Viz to stick with the anime, and was then picked up by FUNimation to stick with the manga. Referring to them as "Warlords" will often get the same kneejerk reaction as calling the Marines "the Navy", as both are reminders of the 4Kids dub. Not to mention it's not entirely accurate either, since the Shichibukai aren't exactly "warlords", but rather highly promoted mercenaries.
Admirably averted in other parts of the FLCL dub, where Japanese puns and wordplay 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..."
As the voice director put in Episode 1's commentary, sempai is one of those words that while it has a direct english translation (in fact the english equivalent has existed longer), it's become really anachronistic these days for people to say, so it becomes difficult on whether or not to translate it.
"Sempai" also shows up in one episode of the TV series' dub, though it was mispronounced.
On the other hand, Latin American dubs sometimes translate the word with the Spanish word Superior (shorthand of Oficial Superior, translated as Superior Officer, a military term), sometimes by using Señor (Mr.) or any honorific title used in-context. Oddly enough, in the European Spanish dub of Trigun leaves the word untranslated, despise in-universe all the characters are supposed to be speaking in English. The Mexican Spanish dub goes the other way instead.
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 original Japanese used a gender-neutral title, since Ashura technically doesn't have a gender at all.
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 overtlyfriendly 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 all 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".
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 villages 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 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.
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" (a very rude version of "you") and "yatsu" (literally meaning "guy" or "fellow" but can also be used as an insult), which 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 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.
One of the best moments of this is when Takeru's big secret is revealed. He's a decoy for the real head of the Shiba house and child of the previous Shinken Red, who was off perfecting the sealing technique. When this is described using the word kagemusha, you're given the literal translation of the two halves of the word - which explains absolutely nothing - and a note telling you to go see the movie from The Seventies by that name. Eventually, other dialogue gives you a better sense of what's going on, but "at first you're confused and then you glean the meaning from talk of the next two episodes" is not how dramatic reveals are intended to work.
Ditto Gekiranger. And the Geki sub, while it's not the series that becomes the hardest to follow because of it, it gets the most random about what is and isn't translated. The first word of the morph calls? The "fists" in Five Venom Fists? Why?
Geki just may be the worst. Shinkenger's painful but 90% of it is attack names, which you don't really need to know to follow the story. The Geki sub knows no such mercy. The morph phrases rhyme... so they're left untranslated, because it's more important to point out the fact that they all end in -e rather than to point out what's being said. Pretty much any proper name will be untranslated even when the name is (a) simply descriptive, and (b) it's kinda important that we know what they're talking about. Also since Gekiranger is a Chinese-influenced Sentai, expect tons of obviously Japanified Chinese terms that sounds strangenote since the Japanese did not adopt all Chinese Kanji some characters have to share the same pronounciation or just out of place and yet remain untranslated in the subs. Remember when the Kenma used their secret Ringi to put the Kensei-tachi in a Doukokugan, and there was a race to the Jyugenkyo to obtain the Jyukenshin, but Rio has the So Zyu Tou, which allows him to pass the Nanae Nanase stones, so he gets to it first? Oh, the Jyukenshin turns out to be Sai Dain. It can become the Jyuken Kyojin, Sai Dai Ou! Naturally, this is revealed in the episode Gowagowan no Daindain: JyuKen KyoJin, kenzan!◊ Ah, good times. Also, unknown to many fans who have only seen the TV-N version, Raised by Wolves hero Jan's "made up" words are not made-up, but Japanese onomatopoeia, and his usage is along the lines of Hulk Speak or Buffy Speak. All that "Zowazowa" and the like being left untranslated is no better than anything else in this paragraph, or on this entire page.
Something fairly new is the lack of the translation of the phrase "Ah mou!", which is along the lines of "Aw man!". Used to be translated, left alone from at Shinkenger onwards or thereabouts.
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.
Try Magiranger. Nee-san-tachi is the most common way for a member of the Sibling Team to refer to the others. Because it's a sibling team, every bit of sibling terminology you know and some you don't gets used. The English words 'brother' or 'sister' on the other hand make zero appearances in your average episode of the TV-N sub.
Family member term situations are made worse by the fact that they're words a lot of anime fans think they understand but don't. Many fans know them literally but don't know that family terms get used for non-family members sometimes. When the monster-of-the-week-targeted kid refers to the hero as 'big brother' or 'big sister,' and it gets left alone or translated literally, many people who think they enough Japanese to brave the TV-N jungle get the wrong idea or are just confused. Especially if the kid is very obviously crushing on "onii-san."
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 translationproblems), 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 movewhile 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 at that point. Or the beginning of the next episode, where they pick on him about it some more. (By the by, it just 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. "The coffee-tachi are doing their work!"
More ""Blind Idiot" Translation" comes from literal translations of jokes, puns, and other wordplay. TL notes on how word A sounds like word B (again not always done) don't make the final sentence any better at revealing what is going on., but they do make great Memetic Mutation. "Be honest to the Naruto Strait!" "Ladies and gentlemen, banana new shoe!" "Leave it to a bow tie!" "Even if she is not injured, her hair is still gone."note No, nobody lost their hair. "Is Chopin a super pie pan?" No, these are not from Hong Kong Subs.
Also from the "too literal is useless" category, sometimes Translate the Loanwords Too is necessary, as the loaning language and the borrowing language don't use them the same way. Pretty much every translation group except for one knows this, so expect lots of confusing references to Ryotaro's lack of "sense" when he's doing nothing particularly un-sensible (because everyone knows that when used that way it strictly means sense of style, right?) or when someone who is looking forward to something talks about their "tension" about it (because everyone knows it means the excited sort of "tension," right?) A word will be translated in a way that is technically accurate but leave the sentence meaning the exact opposite of what it does, and like the sibling terminology, it becomes worse because you think you know what they're talking about.
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. Of course, as always, the problem is that it's only too awesome for English if you already knew what it meant. If you didn't, it's less "Cool!" and more "Huh?!"
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.
OOO is particularly bad. Some of the Core Medal animal names are in English and some are in Japanese, and apparently TV-N found that significant enough to follow suit. Any mention of an animal ever will be left in Japanese unless it's got a Core Medal named for it in English. Translators notes are few and far between, too.
Gotta love Wizard and the Transformation Trinket chatter. Left in Japanese, with the kanji for the word written in the middle. (Also, the color fills in from right to left, as Japanese is read from right to left. You just don't get more aggressively Japanese than this supposed English translation.)
In Fourze, Gentaro's catchphrase is tough - depending on the context it can mean several things, resulting in no two subbers translating the last word the same way. "It's space time!" "Space is here!" and "Space is awesome!" have been seen. Naturally, there is one group and one only who gives it as "Space kitaaaaaaaa!" G'wan, guess who. (And from then on, every appearance of the word kita in anything is left untranslated, even when it doesn't seem like they're homaging Fourze.)
Oddly, none of the above issues showed up in their sub of Shin Kamen Rider: Prologue, which had a perfectly normal sub. However, because of things like the plain yellow sub font, a lot of people suspect they simply ripped the subtitles off of the international dvd that the source footage came from.
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.
Several fansubs and scanlations of CLAMP works such as Cardcaptor Sakura, Xxx HO Li C 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 Xxx HO Li C 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 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", "Frieza" 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 (though the subs keep them); 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, despite being set in a Fantastic Western European world and it's implied in the series that the language used by the heroines is English!
This is even worse with series which don'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, JoJo's 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 is the main character Japanese, but he's speaking German due to his job.
In fact, the logic used by those fansubbers is: Since Anime is a Japanese medium, 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 in "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.
This practice continued after Kodansha's takeover of Del Ray, and has also been adopted by other North American manga publishers – notably Yen Press and Seven Seas. In fact, it's gotten to the point that the only publishers that don't regularly leave honorifics in are Viz and Dark Horse, and even they'll keep them in on occasion.
However, the professional publishers are usually smart enough to realize – unlike the fansubbers mentioned above – that you don't leave in Japanese honorifics if the series doesn't take place in Japan with Japanese characters.
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. Which, amusingly enough, would mean it was literally too long to translate.
Also amusingly, the fansubs used "fighting spirit". Pokemon fansubs in general are pretty free from this trope.
Normally averted in AnimEigo'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 have sounded a little silly, especially a direct translation. Also, its not really an issue of being lazy as it's harder on the voice actors to say it in Japanese, especially "Amakakeru Ryū no Hirameki". (the American DVD's contain outtakes where the dub actors constantly trip over the attack names; a particular one has Dorothy Fahn [Kaoru] getting a name right on the god-knows-what'th attempt, and squealing in pure joy)
It also makes more sense when you think about it, considering it takes place in Japan during the Meiji Era.
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.
Again, this is one of those series that takes place in the pre-modern era, thus one expects to see more untranslated stuff.
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 América or Norte América 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 Mexican Spanish dub of the second Detective 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. This is one of the reasons why Tokyo Movie Shinsha decided to change voice acting studios from Mexico to Chile in the dub of the film The Last Wizard of the Century. Ironically, it happens again in the Chilean version, except this time it only happens in the subbed track.
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, (Ikkitousen, Koihime†Musou, 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 bad research, laziness 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 note For those well-versed in Japanese names it is obvious whether the names are actually Japanese or just Japanified 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.
The case of Hadrian is a bit more jarring, considering that we can argue that he was "Spanish" (kinda), since he was born in the city of Italica, in what is now southern Spain.
Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea: Sousuke still calls his preschool teacher "sensei". Makes sense, though, as the film is explicitly set in Japan.
The translator for the first couple of chapters of Yandere Kanojo decided to have some fun with this trope and put in little notes explaining that "lunch means bentou" and "friend means nakama" and such.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The English Dub keeps in Sayaka's use of the word "moe" in the first episode ("It's so moe it makes me sick!") when "cute" or some variation would have worked just as well. The manga also leaves in Japanese Honorifics and other words (Madoka refers to Mami as "Senpai" in Chapter Two), and the practise of calling acquaintances by their last name is kept in (Mami refers to Kyoko as "Sakura-san" when they first meet in The Different Story).
Many translations of the Kagerou Project franchise (including the official anime translation) tend to leave the name of the main characters' group as the "Mekakushi Dan", though it can be easily translated into English as the "Blindfold Gang" or the "Blindfolds". What's stranger is that when listing members, they will typically be listed as "Dan group member # [X]", which can be translated into "Group Group member # [X]".
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".
Many English translations of French literature, such as Les Misérables and the works of Alexandre Dumas leave in the monsieur/messieurs, mademoiselle/mesdemoiselles, and madame/mesdames (or at least their abbreviations), instead of translating them into Mr, Mrs., etc.
French science fiction 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.
The honorifics are left in on the Food Network dub of Iron Chef.
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.
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 opponent 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.
German goes one step further, where the English term is almost never used outside of referring to the series "The Big Bang Theory". Instead, "Urknall" is used, which translates to "initial (ancient) bang". As a bonus, it nicely mirrors the terms "Ursuppe" for "primordial soup" and "Urmensch" for "ancient human"; connecting the beginning of the universe, of life and of mankind in an elegant way.
"Ur" in itself is a prefix that exists in many Germanic languages, but doesn't have any actual English equivalent, making translating words that use it more troublesome and less accurate that it really should be.
The Bible provides an interesting example of this: Hebrew scripts (like many Semitic scripts including Arabic) 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 belong 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.
"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.)
The Sacred Scriptures Bethel Edition translation of The Bible comes across as this, though it does so deliberately. Not only does it insist on transliterating god's name as Yahweh, it refuses to translate various other words as well. Here's an example.
This is so common in Judaism it has a term, "yeshivish" (a nelogism of "yeshivah", a Jewish religious high-school, with -ish, indicating a language). When studying Jewish law, Torah scholars will often use Hebrew or Yiddish words for terms that can have a technical meaning, even if there's a serviceable translation, leading you to eventually say things like "Talking in shul is issur because it deprives you of proper kavanah for davening." (Tr.: "Talking in synagogue is forbidden because it deprives you of proper concentration for praying.")
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".
Pops up repeatedly in-universe in Warhammer 40K, mostly when dealing with things in High Gothic, the "formal" language of the Imperium which is written in quasi-Latin, while Low Gothic is the common one written in English. Thus, your mission is not to guard the factory from aliens to save the world from being condemned by the Church and burnt by Space Marines; you are protecting the manufactorum from xenos, so the Ecclesiarchy does not declare your world excommunicate traitoris and thus send an exterminatus fleet guarded by the Adeptus Astartes.
The originalMetroid 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.
Eventually translated to the equivalent pun in English: Hellmont.
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 a mistake 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 and Ken in Street Fighter IV replace "Tatsumaki Senpuukyaku" (literally "Hurricane Spinning Kick") with generic grunts. They fully voice the "Hadoken" and "Shoryuken." Subverted by Gouken who shouts Tatsumaki Gou Rasen during both variants, and by several others in game...during their EX variants at least.
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.
As of Street Fighter X Tekken this has been rectified completely as now Ken and Akuma shout out the names of their hurricane kick attacks. Strangely, English Jin also yells out the Japanese names of his Median Line Destruction and Power Stance moves when he performs their EX versions.
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).
Final Fantasy VIII: 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.
And also because these aren't the names of the attacks, but of what class of weapon he's using.
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.
The original Fan Translation left every instance of "hiryuu", or "flying dragon", untranslated and romanized, for no apparent reason. Final Fantasy V Advance got a little clever - they translated the species as "wind drake", but King Tycoon's wind drake is actually named "Hiryuu." There was also the Power of "Mu," or "Void," but that may have been a text spacing issue.
A similar example is that, during Arena battles, you can perform a "Hangeki" ("Counter-Attack") which of course, was not translated either. Worse still, when executing Rengeki or Hangeki, Haseo's voice calls out the appropriate move, but in Vol.1's localized version, the voice will always call out Rengeki, even when you're performing a counter-attack. The kicker is that subsequent games changed the call-out voice from Haseo's voice to a vaguely distorted voice instead.
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)".
In the Mega Man Zero games themselves, the bosses call out their moves and catch phrases in Japanese.
It's 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.
Mega Man X6 barely translated any of their boss names, which leaves amusing names such as Infinity Mijinionnote In which "Mijinion" refers to "mijinko", Japanese for water flea, which what the boss looks like, and Commander Yammarknote In which "Yammark" refers to "yanma", a type of Japanese dragonflies, again, reflecting what the boss looks like. Then again, Blaze Heatnix and Blizzard Wolfang was actually perfectly serviceable.
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.
This occurred to entire games in South Korea during its ban on Japanese products. With Nintendo games, many were just repackaged American versions, with no translation other than of the box and manuals. In rare cases, as with The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures, the Japanese version was repackaged for the Korean release. This was due to Nintendo farming out its distribution to Hyundai Electronics and later Daewon; these companies, focused more on domestic products, couldn't care less about the Japanese games they were asked to distribute, so they just translated the boxes and manuals, which obviously have much less text than the games themselves. When Nintendo of Korea was formed in 2007, Nintendo games were released fully translated.
This trope is frequent in many English Fan Translations of visual novels, to the grade, outside professional translated ones, the only ones who doesn't do this can be counted using both hands. The most notorious one is Policenauts and that's because almost all the characters are Westerners and because the translators tried to keep the same translation style used in many Hideo Kojima's games in English, rather than using the same one used in other Japanese-centric visual novels.
On the other hand, this is normally avoided, and sometimes even discouraged, regarding Fan Translations of other game genres, like RPGs. This is justified, especially in older games, since both disk space and the size of the memory in older consoles is normally limited and adding unnecesary honorifics is considered a waste of vital space and giving a vital translation is more important than being too faithful to the original text.
One of the most notorious exceptions of this rule is Chrono Compendium's English fan-retranslation of Chrono Trigger and it was quickly derided by everyone in the fan-translation community for doing that.
Atomic Robo-Kid identifies the rapid-fire power-up by the Japanese term "rensha," even in the Western-developed computer versions.
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.
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... There's also the graduation honor cum laude, which is invariably pronounced incorrectly.
This trope is averted, however, with the Roman virtue of pietas, which students are told not to translate. The definition of the concept is roughly a paragraph long (at its shortest).
A common belief in Islam is that there is no such thing as a satisfactorily accurate translation of the Koran, and non-Arabic Muslim converts will usually take the time to learn Arabic in order to read the Koran untranslated.
This is not unusual for any religion with an important holy book. While most common in Islam, Jews are generally expected to learn Hebrew. Given that the Old and New Testament were written in different languages, this is less common in Christianity. Generally speaking, Christians treat Bible translations as they would treat translations of anything else. As such, they'll only worry about the translation when there is the possibility of a severe misunderstanding of the passage.
Latin is sometimes regarded in a similar way by Catholics; veering back in the direction of this trope, the latest translation of the Nicene Creed renders consubstantialem Patri as the barely-English "consubstantial with the Father" instead of the vaguer "one in being with the Father". The earliest Catholic Bibles in English (translated from Latin) do this sometimes, too: notice the use of depositumhere.
Inverted in parts of the free software community. Free software is software that you are free to use, modify, and redistribute as you like - in other words, software that grants you substantial freedom. Most free software licenses allow people to sell free software for money. However, since the term free tends to mean free of charge in English, it is commonly mistaken for software that you don't have to pay for; even Richard Stallman, who coined the term, is aware of this ambiguity, but maintains that there isn't really a good English word to express this kind of freedom. For this reason, some developers have proposed adopting the Latin terms gratis to mean software you don't have to pay for, and libre to mean software you are free to mess around with. (The common English phrases are "free as in speech" as opposed to "free as in beer", but they're longer than libre/gratis.)
Highly common in sciences where words from assorted languages are adopted wholesale instead of creating a translation, especially into English. Geology and geography provide some good examples:
A polynya (Russian) is an ice-free area in an otherwise ice-covered body of water.
A lagerstätten (German) is a deposit with highly detailed preserved fossils.
Jökulhlaups (Icelandic) are the sudden outbursts of water that can emerge from underneath glaciers, usually associated with a volcano.
Related to the previous one: Among researchers, it is usual to use English as the common international language. However, if researchers talk about their topic in another language (for example their common native language), they may still use English in specific terminology. This roots from that some English words have multiple definitions in the target language, and using the original English word ensures that both speakers understand what they are actually talking about.
In fact, some researchers whose native language isn't English may prefer to write about their topic in English in order to avoid having to come up with translations to different terms.
Gamers (Finnish and Russians in particular) may scatter (mangled) English game terminology in their otherwise Finnish-language speech when talking to fellow players (for example via voice chat). This includes even terms like "to heal", "to ambush", "HP" etc. even if those are easy to translate into Finnish. This roots partially from that Finnish or Russian equivalents for the English terms may be long ("to heal" = "parantaa" and istselyat, repsectively) or that it is easier for fellow Finnish players to realize what the other player means when what they hear appears similar to what they see on the screen. When players of different nations work together, it also aids in communication.