Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Kana override in titles

Recently, I've noticed a serious problem with romanized Japanese titles. It's something that may seems pretty straightforward, but so many Japanese learners aren't even aware of it after years of studying, and it's no other than furigana. Let's take a few examples:http://www.batoto.net/comic/_/comics/seirei-tsukai-no-kenbu-r6933

Now take a look at this

By the time you finish watching the videos above, you'll probably have noticed a difference. Yes, all readings in the first 6 links are incorrect. Now let me explain the reason.

Usually, furigana is used for making reading easier. However, there's also a special use of furigana, which is dictating how something SHOULD be read in works of fiction (manga, novels, games). When a special reading has been assigned to a string of kanji, you should automatically look at the kana and read it instead of trying to look up kanji and slap a reading on it, because that just destroys the point of using the designated reading. The kanji part, no matter how big it looks, is actually just to explain the meaning, and the kana part is more important. This is an unspoken rule that every native speaker knows, but most Japanese learners don't notice at all. If you search a LN title in Japanese on Youtube, you'll see that no Japanese vlogger ever misreads a title because they know the rule by default.


The saddest part is that many of the wrong readings on English sites come from translators of big groups, which in turns, causes massive influence to how the audience read the titles. So many people used the wrong reading for a long time before Machine Doll anime was aired just because the people who updated info on mangaupdates and B-T's translators didn't know and didn't bother checking out MFJ's channel. Much worse, this problem is still spreading on a large scale. Therefore, through this post, I just hope you remember the override rule to avoid making the same mistake. Try paying more attention to kana because it's more important than you think. This will help you decide better as well when translating because this kind of furigana is used everywhere in creative writing, be it LN, manga or game scripts.

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