Game Lingo – タイミングよく

I have a column in The Japan Times today, “Take your taimingu when translating loan words.” The general idea and many of the examples should be familiar to long time readers, but I use a new example as my main piece of evidence: the video game term タイミングよく.

Here’s the build-up:

Japan has a long history of commandeering words from other languages and making them its own. Kobo Daishi, one of Japan’s first exchange students, allegedly brought back thousands of kanji from China in the eighth century. Words from Portugal and Holland arrived through Nagasaki roughly 1,000 years later. More recently, Japanese has borrowed from English and other languages, and hence there are now legions of words that require thought before you can convert them back into their source language.

Go buy a copy or check it out online.

5 thoughts on “Game Lingo – タイミングよく

  1. Hey, nice article, I really enjoyed reading it. It made me think of my Japanese linguistics class in which we talked about loan words and semantic narrowing/broadening. I think it’s definitely what’s unique to words borrowed from other languages, one way or another it becomes more part of the language it assimilated in than the language it came from.

  2. Hey Daniel,

    I saw a small blurb somewhere else on your blog about your frustrations with the Death Note title. I don’t remember reading whether or not you’ve read (or watched) the series in translation, you’d see that it retrains its pronoun title Death Note but within explanation or less-specific reference to the item, it’s called a notebook properly. I agree with you one hundred and whatever percent I’m allowed to go over one hundred that these loan words often need special consideration, but in this case, I’m really glad they didn’t change the title to Death Notebook. I think that would have left more people (including myself) asking for more of an authentic to the story – translation than those that are frustrated with the non Japanese ノート to Notebook translation of the title.

    Anyway, just my opinion! Keep up the great blog,

  3. One comment on the last sentence in there: cod roe and mayonnaise on pizza is not Japanese pizza, it’s a horrific abomination. ;P

    I also agree that “Death Note”, while not necessarily the most clear translation, is certainly catchier as a title. Maybe “Death Book” would’ve worked, but “Death Notebook” just doesn’t sound as enticing.

  4. How about “The Fascinating & Macabre Case of the Notebook of Death”? And then all the subs could have been written in a similar Poe style.