Tonkatsu Update Part Deux

Although tonkatsu is a good hangover cure, I was unsure whether I could actually hold them down yesterday – I was suffering from the wicked aftereffects of Saturday’s excellent hanami. After returning to human form, I remembered Maisen’s 限定 circular sandwiches in the GranSta in the basement of Tokyo Station. These are nice and small, a perfect snack serving size:

There’s also a yolky egg stuffed inside:

Not a bad buy at 470 yen. My only complaint is that they bag them while they’re hot, so the steam condenses on the inside of the bag and makes the bread slightly moist.


When you speak Japanese, what are your hands doing? In the last couple of weeks, I’ve noticed that when foreigners speak Japanese, many of them seem to have a wicked case of what I’ve termed “charades hands.” We all wave our hands like Stan the used boat salesman from Monkey Island:

I’m tempted to say that ESL folks aren’t plagued by “Stan hands.” For whatever reason, Japanese just draws it out of us. There’s so much more I’m trying to express! Can’t you understand what my hands are trying to say! I’ll freely admit that my hands are as guilty as everyone else’s, but I’ve been trying to be better about it recently.

Do whatever it takes to keep them under control. Put them in your pockets. Sit on them. Hold something really heavy. I have a feeling that maintaining control of your hands will force you to make your word choices more accurate and your grammar more precise.

I think mastery of the passive tense probably cuts down on “charades hands” by about 50%, so go ahead and start there.

Game Lingo – 操作

This is a term that is translated consistently in nearly every video game. 操作(そうさ) means “controls.” It’s a combination of 操る(あやつる) and 作る(つくる). 操る means “to control a device/vehicle/something.” It can be translated flexibly as “pilot,” “drive,” and “operate.” 操作 can be translated this way, too, but only when it refers to an in-game character operating/controlling/piloting something. In most cases, 操作 refers to the actual human player “controlling” the video game with an input device. 操作方法(ほうほう) is a common section of video game manuals and almost without exception should be translated as “Controls.”

Video Game Translation

So you want to translate video games, eh? Well, first I’d strongly suggest that you pursue translation in other fields. Patents pay well. So do contracts. And they’re both easier to translate than video games. Yes, the startup requirements are a little bit higher. Both fields have large amounts of terminology that a translator needs to know in both Japanese and English as well as unique ways of writing. But once you’ve mastered these, you can be a Translation Terminator – line that shit up and knock it the fuck down. The phrases will become more and more familiar, and you’ll be able to do efficient, accurate translation in a field that will always have a huge demand.

Games on the other hand require the c-word – creativity. Games lie in an area between literature and technical writing; there are terms that you need to know and keep consistent, but you also need to be creative and flexible with your English. Perhaps that’s why so many people want to do game translation? People blinded by the sexiness of video game translation (a sexiness that wears off the first time you say, “I translate video games.” *adjusts nerd glasses*) fail to realize that creativity takes time, has a larger supply, and often requires you to read extremely poorly written Japanese and make sense of it.

So you still want to translate video games? Well, I tried my best. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. I’m starting a new category of post today where I’ll try to introduce some lingo from game translation. Hope it’s interesting/helpful. Let me know if there’s anything you’d like to read about.