Of of Oves: Japanese Inexpressiveness Illustrated through Videogame Titles
When I was a young boy spending all my time in the back of the room in Christian math class painstakingly translating books and song lyrics, I assumed that my perception of Japanese as being less expressive, less beautiful and poetic than English would slowly fade away with time as I was able to more fully grasp and appreciate the subtleties of the language. As of today this hasn’t been the case.
I’m probably still wrong, judging apples and oranges through mutually inapplicable standards and hyper-literalizing* to support my biased point, but this is what I wanted to write, faggot, so fuck off. There’s plenty of lists taking the opposite side, like where weeaboo retards fap to the “clearly superior boxart” of the Japanese releases, and that shit seriously needs some balancing out.
First I’m going to run through all the major Legends of Zelda, because that’s what inspired this idea in the first place.
-English title | Jappo title romanized | Literal translation of me
-Legend of Zelda | zeruda no densetsu | Legend of Zelda
Simple and classic, I’m sure you’ll agree.
-The Adventure of Link | rinku no bouken | Adventure of Link
Another literal translation. Still has a nice classic feel.
-A Link to the Past | kamigami no toraifoosu | Triforce of the Gods
And now somebody finally decides they’ve had enough of “of” and spares the English speaking world a literal translation, instead opting for a slightly lame but appropriate pun.
-Link’s Awakening | yume wo miru shima | Dreaming Island (either “Island where Dreams are Had” or “Island which [itself] has Dreams”—probably the latter, since wasn’t that Wind Fish guy who was dreaming or something?)
Enjoy this one, because it’s the one and only time where we get “of” (or its equivalent, the possessive), and the Jappos get nice and creative name.
-Ocarina of Time | toki no ocarina | Ocarina of Time
Once again the classicness of this title means there’s nothing out of place with the literal translation. No need to fix what ain’t broken.
-Majora’s Mask | mujura no kame | Mask of Mujura
That’s right, it doesn’t stop. Luckily, in English we have a separate way to show possession (apostrophe s) or association (just using any noun directly as an adjective) apart from just saying that something is “of” something else, but in Japanese’s lego grammar they both have to be expressed the same. There is no distinction between “my sammich” and “sammich of me,” “lunch sammich” and “sammich of lunch.”
-Oracle of Ages/Seasons | fushigi no ki no mi: daichi no shou/jikuu no shou | Nut of Tree of Mysteriousness: Chapter of Earth / Chapter of Space and Time
A stacking of four nos. A demonic tapestry of hatred.…
-Four Swords | yottsu no tsurugi | Four Swords (and if you’ve been following along you might notice that, yes, even numbers are written with “of”)
Nothing else to say here, but it may be of interest that inside the game the “four sword” itself is referred to in English (or at least a mutated mockery of the same). Actually, I’ve never played the Amerifag version so I don’t know what it’s called in the localization, but I assume it’s called “the four sword.”
-Wind Waker | kaze no takuto | Baton of Fucking Wind (“baton” being from the German “taktstock”)
This is the title that got me thinking about this in the first place. A Link to the Past was cute, but this is utter genius. The poetic license taken in nominalizing the verb “wake,” the alliteration, and the use of language which is never actually used in the original text (to the best of my memory, and never having played the English version) come together to form my favorite Zelda title yet and still. Or, if you’re a Jappo, you’re still stuck with the same old A of B crap.
-Minish Cap | fushigi no boushi | Hat of Mysteriousness
* Again I’m taking the liberty of not using the more reasonable translation of “Mysterious Hat,” to distinguish between the more adjectival fushigi na boushi.
-Twilight Princess | towairaito purinsesu | Twilight Princess
This one doesn’t count, because the original title was conceived in English to begin with.
-Phantom Hourglass | mugen no sunadokei | Hourglass of Illusion
So you can see that out of the 11 Japanese titles (remembering that TP isn’t one of them), all but one follow the “A no B” formula, and in all but one of these 10 this is being used to mean “A of B.”
To be continued….