I recently found out about the RPG Pugmire and that it’s being localized to Japanese by Group SNE, the makers of Sword World. Not being familiar with Pugmire, I started looking for more info and stumbled upon tweets by its translator Yuli Bethe. There’s a number of interesting tweets, but one I found particularly interesting was a discussion about how to translate the word “lover” into Japanese. This probably seems like a straightforward thing to translate, but it’s deceptively complicated and really illustrates the problems translators face.
For those of you, like me, who hadn’t heard of Pugmire, it’s an RPG that adapts 5e’s SRD to a world of uplifted dogs. Humans have long since vanished, but dogs and other animals have inherited the world.
Now why would translating “lover” be potentially problematic in that setting? In Japanese, the most common ways of writing “lover” (such as 恋人) include the character for “human” (人). That’s all well and good except the fact that in Pugmire humans are extinct and it’s a world of animals.
The following is a rough translation Continue reading For the Love of Uplifted Dogs