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Post Reply Unequal criticisms on proper pronunciation of foreign words in anime/ video games
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Posted 4/15/17 , edited 4/15/17
I just find it amusing sometimes how the Japs butcher English words. White somehow becomes ho-wai-toh and Michael becomes me-hai-eh-ru


Japanese has simpler pronunciation rules than English though. You can get the pitch accent right for a significant portion of names/nouns just by knowing 1 rule: (most 4+ syllables names/nouns)The pitch goes up on the 2nd syllable and stays put until it starts going down from the 2nd last syllable. Of course, this doesn't take into account things like extended syllables and silent sounds but that's not within the scope of this.
Humms 
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25 / M / CAN, ON
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Posted 4/15/17
Because they don't want to pay to teach them proper pronunciation.

To much time and money.
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28 / M / Northern Ireland
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Posted 4/15/17
Because people are hypocritical and don't understand the concept of dialects.
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30 / M / B.C, Canada
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Posted 4/15/17
Personally I never understood the difficulty of the English/Japanese thing when it comes to voice acting. I mean there are a shit ton of people out there that speak both excellent English and Japanese . Just look at a good chunk of the population of this forum as an example. And yet both games and anime struggle to find voice actors who can do both .

Personally I blame idiotic developers being unable to comprehend the fact they should hire the person suited to the job instead of someone with a famous name whose English or Japanese sucks hind tit.
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Posted 5/17/17

Ranwolf wrote:


Personally I blame idiotic developers being unable to comprehend the fact they should hire the person suited to the job instead of someone with a famous name whose English or Japanese sucks hind tit.


Nana Mizuki's English is pretty okay from what I've heard. It's stilted, and some pronunciations are wrong, but at least you can understand what she's saying. I get what your saying though.

I don't know if it's been said yet, but from what I've read, at least in Persona 5's case the Japanese VA's told the English VA's to pronounce the names the that way. Of course, I don't know how true that is.
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48 / M / Auburn, Washington
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Posted 5/17/17

cyrilhenson wrote:

So here's my question: Why is there an apparent disparity on how people judge the voice actors' ability to pronounce foreign words in anime/ video games, but the Japanese gets a free pass? I would love to hear your opinion on what you think might be the possible causes of it.


The Japanese explicitly adopt many English words and change the pronunciation to feel and sound "more Japanese." For example, the word for "hamburger" is "hambagu," or "ハンバーグ" - you can tell it's not native Japanese because it's in katakana rather than hiragana, but you can also tell it's not intended to be pronounced like the English word because it's not written in the Roman alphabet.

This is not a mistake. They do not get a "free pass" for anything. The English word "hamburger" is not being mispronounced, because they are saying a Japanese word instead. Indeed, an argument could be made that English words have both an English and a Japanese pronunciation and spelling, much like kanji have both on and kun readings.

The on reading is a Chinese word, sort of, although not really. The kanji for water - 水 - has the on reading sui, but that is not exactly correct because in Cantonese it is seoi and in Mandarin it is shui and also the Chinese language is tonic so you have to pronounce it with the right tone. This is also different between Cantonese, which uses a rising mid-to-high tone, and Mandarin which uses a "dipping" mid-low-high tone.

But the Japanese on reading is not actually a Chinese word, because you are not speaking Chinese. You are speaking Japanese. The hanzi and the kanji are the same, but when you see this exact pictograph in a Chinese source it is both Mandarin and Cantonese, the only difference being the pronunciation. When you see it in a Japanese source, it is explicitly Japanese and not pronounced the same as either.

Furthermore, there is the kun reading "mizu" (みず) which is the actual native Japanese word for water. Provided it's not hot. Hot water is a different word. You don't say "atsui mizu." You say "oyu." It's a whole different thing.

Again, nobody is getting a free pass for screwing anything up. Nothing is being screwed up. The Japanese are not mispronouncing Chinese. They are correctly pronouncing Japanese.

Or, at the very least, that's their story and they're sticking to it.
runec 
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Posted 5/18/17
It should also be noted that certain sounds used in the English language simply do not exist in Japanese and are difficult for native speakers to even perceive if they try to learn English later in life. L and R being the foremost example. If you give a native Japanese speaker an English word with L or R, they may literally, brain wise, not be able to perceive a difference.

Conversely, even when a Japanese word is romanized the rules of pronunciation can obviously be quite different. Though in the case of English voice actors they should at least bother to listen to how Japanese names/locations are pronounced so they don't try to just sound them out phonetically.





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28 / F / Outer Orbit
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Posted 5/18/17 , edited 5/18/17
The way I look at it, original work gets more and rightful leeway for obvious reasons, it is, after all the original work.
When it comes to dubs that is by it's nature iterative work rather than an original and I do feel the voice actors owe it to the material they are working on to try harder. Otherwise it just feels disrespectful to the original material to me. I mean, mistakes happen, that's fine, but quite often it seems more like the case "Oh, I can't be bothered to learn to pronounce the name of the character I will now be recording as for 20 hours." with the editor in the background being too busy staring at his smartphone to notice it.
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M / Darkest Africa
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Posted 5/18/17
It doesn't make sense to hire voice actors based on their ability to speak well in a language that they will not be acting in. It's better to get a voice actor who irritates 1% of the audience for mispronouncing a few Japanese words while providing better entertainment for 99% of the audience by being a better voice actor.

Studios have a duty to audiences and shareholders to hire the best for the job at hand instead of the best for some other job. If you don't like it, watch the original.


Elvikun wrote:
"Oh, I can't be bothered to learn to pronounce the name of the character I will now be recording as for 20 hours."


Disagree. The team may well have decided to pronounce a name differently to better fit with the target audience, who may be unable to pronounce the original or find it troublesome for any other reason.
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28 / F / Outer Orbit
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Posted 5/18/17

loremipsumdolor wrote:

Disagree. The team may well have decided to pronounce a name differently to better fit with the target audience, who may be unable to pronounce the original or find it troublesome for any other reason.


If they mispronounce and borderline butcher (especially) names on purpose, my point is still very much the same as it was under the assumption that it is due to ignorance and/or laziness, that just makes it worse.

If as you say they consider it bad for audiences to hear names they may not know said as they are supposed to be said, then maybe they should just go all the way and rename all those people to Janes and Joes. But that then comes more into localisation issues and editing (and by the gods, there is a lot to be said about that too), which is not what this is about.
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