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Saying sayonara to Japanese quotation marks (「」) in VN translations


Darbury

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72WaKST.jpg

Last time, we discussed how the casual ellipsis should almost always be considered punctuation non grata in VN translations. Today, we set our sights on a new target: Japanese-style quotation marks. Handling these couldn’t be simpler: If you see any in your text, replace them with English-style quotation marks immediately. No exceptions. No special cases. No mercy.

A quick primer on Japanese quotation marks
If you’ve spent any time looking at Japanese texts, you’ve likely seen 「 and its friend 」. These little guys are known as kagikakko (“hook brackets”) and function almost exactly like opening (“) and closing (”) quotations marks would in English. No surprise there; kagikakko were invented during the 19th Century to aid in translating Western texts into Japanese. Why use these instead the genuine article? Because a Western quote (“) looks an awful lot like a dakuten (゛), a common Japanese diacritical mark; it turns “ta” (た) into “da” (だ), for instance. The potential for confusion was enormous, so new punctuation was introduced.

Less frequently seen are 『 and 』, known as nijūkagikakko (“double hook brackets”). These operate much like opening (‘) and closing (’) single quotation marks would in English — which is to say, for quoting things within quotes. (“You can’t just scream ‘FIRE!’ in a crowded theater,” he scolded.) In Japanese, they also moonlight as italics for things like book titles. Times are tough and they need the extra cash.

The rules (You can quote me on these.)

Quote
  1. If you see 「 or 」, replace them with their Western counterparts (“ and ”). If your text engine can’t candle so-called “smart quotes,” use straight double quotes (") for both opening and closing marks instead.
  2. If you see 『 or 』 being used for nested quotes, replace them with them with their Western counterparts (‘ and ’). If your text engine can’t candle so-called “smart quotes,” use straight single quotes (') for both opening and closing marks instead.
  3. If you see 『 or 』 being used as italics, replace them with actual italics. If your text engine doesn’t support that, which is more than likely, follow the standard rules of quoting — double quotes if the emphasized term is standing alone, or single quotes if it’s already inside quotes.

But all my friends are doing it!
So here’s the rub: I see Japanese quotation marks everywhere. Fan translations, professional translations — everywhere. Why? Buggered if I know. I can only imagine it’s affectation that, over time, has become habit. Maybe TL teams think it’s more authentic? Maybe they’re convinced it makes the English text look more Japanese-y? Maybe it’s chemtrails? I just don’t know.

Regardless of the reason, this is one seriously annoying trend that needs to be pushed off a seriously tall cliff. Starting now.

UPDATE #1: As pointed out in the comments, I'm assuming the rules of U.S. punctuation here. I also eat my soft-boiled eggs little end up, just as The Lord God Almighty intended. If you live in the U.K. or one of its offshoots, however, feel free to reverse the order I've given — i.e., single quotes as your primary tool, double quotes for nested quotes and italics.

And to be honest, if you look at how Japanese quotation marks are constructed, it seems pretty clear they're based off the British style. Point for the Queen. But ultimately, your editing decisions should be based on whether you're using U.S. or U.K. English for your translation in general.

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What if the engine puts 「 these」 there and your hacker is lazy?

I don't know any exisitng fan-TL with that specific engine though so RIP

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50 minutes ago, Zakamutt said:

Zaka
「I honestly think Japanese quotes are prettier than the Roman version, though.」

Darbury
"Ïf prëtty wërë äll thät mättërëd, Ï'd püt ümläüts övër ëvëry vöwël. Bëcäüsë ït mäkës thëm löök lïkë thëy'vë göt lïttlë Mïckëy Möüsë ëärs."

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What I want to know is why Japanese quotation marks are still evident in VNs with ADV format. You know, the ones with the text box and the name of the person speaking. The quotation marks are replaced by the dialogue text box, Japanese quotations should only be used in NVL format.

Also, I disagree with Zaka. Nothing pretty about corners of a box. They're functional, cause they're corners of a box and it's like they're enclosing the quotes ... in a box, but I wouldn't say they're pretty. Just my opinion there :P 

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24 minutes ago, Rooke said:

What I want to know is why Japanese quotation marks are still evident in VNs with ADV format. You know, the ones with the text box and the name of the person speaking. The quotation marks are replaced by the dialogue text box, Japanese quotations should only be used in NVL format.

Also, I disagree with Zaka. Nothing pretty about corners of a box. They're functional, cause they're corners of a box and it's like they're enclosing the quotes ... in a box, but I wouldn't say they're pretty. Just my opinion there :P 

You're just too old to see the modern beauty of those corners, the youth nowadays is all about boxes, old man. ):

I agree with them being unnecessary in ADV though, always felt like it was a bit odd.

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There are certain things that can be left as they in a the original script this however is not one of them, the Japanese language has many ways of  citing or quoting(like 7 xD), one of them is  using 「」if I recall correctly it's for a direct citation and nothing more, what we use in the west " " , leaving the 「」doesn't make sense when you have an equivalent for the same exact thing! Some even wont be able to understand what it means.

I do think they are prettier and look better, just like the point or the coma。or、:mare:
 

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I think it's important to maintain the 「」, because sometimes depending on the situation, they change how the quotation marks look.
For example, in flashbacks, I've seen some VNs change to 『』
And I agree that it looks prettier than " ".

EDIT: I just noticed he talked about 『』 above, awkward...

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Just to add fuel to the fire, I will add that "" can be problematic. It's a quote in English and in the dawn of time (computer time, that is), programmers figured it would be a good sign to quote strings. This mean "This is a line" will leave out the "" in the string itself. Writing ""This is a line"" will end the string at the second " and cause an error. The way to write the line in a way the computer would understand would be "\"This is a line\"". However it could also be written "「This is a line」". However this only goes for " and this would also be accepted by the computer "“This is a line”".

For easier comparison:

  1. "\"This is a line\""
  2. "「This is a line」"
  3. "“This is a line”"

Next problem is that most VNs use Japanese locale and as such use the shift-jis encoding (or rather Microsoft's codepage 932, which is virtually identical). This mean that not all characters are available. More specifically whatever is used should be available here Microsoft's cp932 page for 0x81 leading byte. Being aimed at Japanese text, they didn't include “”, but row 60, column 05 to 08 looks useful, or at least as close as one can get to what you asked for.

 

Leaving technical reasons aside, I do actually like the 「」signs. I think they look decent. I just wish they were available with a character width, which didn't provide so much whitespace around them. However they seem to be made to match a default kanji width to make kanji line up vertical. There is nothing we can do about the width, other than making a custom font.

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I'd like to point out something also. Only Americans use the double quotation marks for speech. All my physical books (well, I'm not going to check all of them) use single quotation marks for dialogue because they were printed outside of the US. Americans use the double quotes (") for quotations and single quotes (') for quotations inside a quotation, but British punctuation guidelines suggest the opposite - single quotes for quotations and double quotes for quotations inside a quotation. I know what you're all thinking and I agree, the British format is obviously superior and I really don't know why the Americans like to be contrary :P 

Just checked my Kindle and the punctuation between books is a total mish-mash *wrinkles nose*. Observe:
“The marquis has arrived, sir.” (The Theft of Swords)
‘Initiating VKT ranging, cross-match RL acquisition data,’ (Pandora's Star)

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16 minutes ago, Rooke said:

I'd like to point out something also. Only Americans use the double quotation marks for speech.

This is a very good point Rooke makes. Being a bloody Yank, I sometimes forget that our conventions aren't the standard  even when it's damn well clear they should be. ;)

I'll amend the blog post accordingly.

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15 hours ago, Rooke said:

What I want to know is why Japanese quotation marks are still evident in VNs with ADV format. You know, the ones with the text box and the name of the person speaking. The quotation marks are replaced by the dialogue text box, Japanese quotations should only be used in NVL format.

So, to be clear, you're suggesting that no quotation marks should be used in ADV format, right? I had been considering how to broach exactly that suggestion, inside actual dialogue text, for my current project which is an ADV, so a little explicit support in advance for that wouldn't go unappreciated.

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5 hours ago, tymmur said:

I will add that "" can be problematic. [...] The way to write the line in a way the computer would understand would be "\"This is a line\"". However it could also be written "「This is a line」". However this only goes for " and this would also be accepted by the computer "“This is a line”".

Entirely valid point. And handling annoying text transformations like these is why God invented Perl. And Perl hackers. ;)

5 hours ago, tymmur said:

Next problem is that most VNs use Japanese locale and as such use the shift-jis encoding. [...] Being aimed at Japanese text, they didn't include “”, but row 60, column 05 to 08 looks useful, or at least as close as one can get to what you asked for.

Those characters would seem to be exactly what the doctor ordered, in fact.

And since it looks like one of my teams has found my blog — hi! :D — it's probably a good time to add the standard disclaimer:

The views and opinions expressed on this blog are solely those of Darbury Laine. They do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of any projects he may be involved in, nor of good and decent people in general. Furthermore, Antwerp is not a sexual position.

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7 hours ago, Fred the Barber said:

So, to be clear, you're suggesting that no quotation marks should be used in ADV format, right? I had been considering how to broach exactly that suggestion, inside actual dialogue text, for my current project which is an ADV, so a little explicit support in advance for that wouldn't go unappreciated.

Quotation marks indicate direct dialogue, a text box with a name indicates direct dialogue, so quotation marks are not needed in this instance. It's like saying the same thing twice :P 

7 hours ago, tymmur said:

Leaving technical reasons aside, I do actually like the 「」signs. I think they look decent. 

To be honest, they look like incomplete square brackets [ ]

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I see the inclusion of 「」 Japanese quotation marks as simply an extension of fan translation weabooism that thinks including as much Japanese in the translation as possible makes it somehow more authentic.

8421-justasweaboo.jpg

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Reviving this to point out another reason why you might want to keep the JP quotation marks: it turns out at least one VN engine is abominably stupid and keys off the JP quotation marks, rather than the presence of a speaker (or some other annotation, whatever, I don't care), to decide that a line is dialog and should be indented accordingly in the backlog display. Just ran across this in a KiriKiri game, so it may even be universal to KiriKiri. When I tried removing the outer JP quotation marks, the backlog immediately went from looking quite nice to looking like garbage.

Was a pretty depressing experience, honestly, since now I have to go put them all back...

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