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A question for non-English speakers:

When you're playing at a table, speaking your own language, do you use to translate Gloranthan place names and personal names in English?

I do, and I'd like to know your opinions about it.

Names like Boldhome, Jonstown, Shadow Plateau or Whitewall have transparent meanings in English, and thus should be translated when they appear in a non-English languaged game. Otherwise, their meaning would be lost and non-English speakers wouldn't understand the origin or the reason after that name.

 

Let's imagine the opposite example, an English-speaker GM saying something like:

- Your troll character heads towards "Altiplà ombrívol", a land where sunshines don't bright nor heat.

For an English speaker, "Altiplà ombrívol" is just a place name, without evocating anything. But if I tell you that "Altiplà ombrívol" is the Catalan translation of "Shadow Plateau" then you'll realize that the previous sentence truly carries further meanings.

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I usually don't translate proper names, as translations in french often sound awkward.

However, like Iskallor above, I used translated works. And sometimes, official translation is just strange.

For instance, "Godlearners" became "Erudits de l'Ambigu". Whitewall was "la Citadelle Blanche".

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5 hours ago, Mugen said:

 And sometimes, official translation is just strange.

For instance, "Godlearners" became "Erudits de l'Ambigu". 

The story behind that was that the translator had difficulty deciding whether God Learners should be the Learners about God or the Gods that Learn (an interpretation unknown to me until I heard this story)

So he asked Greg.

Whose answer was "Well, it's ambiguous..."

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I've asked a similar question regarding German translations in this thread:

I've described my approach to using translations in this reply

 

 

Edited by Oracle
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On 31/10/2016 at 6:14 PM, Nel said:

Names like Boldhome, Jonstown, Shadow Plateau or Whitewall have transparent meanings in English, and thus should be translated when they appear in a non-English languaged game. Otherwise, their meaning would be lost and non-English speakers wouldn't understand the origin or the reason after that name.

I like translated names like Meseta Sombría for Shadow Plateau or Murallas Blancas for Whitewall. However, there are other names, like Boldhome, Jonstown or Wilmskirk that I don't feel like they're worth translating, because translating them produces names that I like less than the original.

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On 10/31/2016 at 8:24 PM, Iskallor said:

The Finnish translations I have have the names all in Finnish. 

 

Beware!

This might result in your players asking awkward questions such as

"Onko talossa Talosa jumalatar?

 

13 hours ago, Runeblogger said:

However, there are other names, like Boldhome, Jonstown or Wilmskirk that I don't feel like they're worth translating, because translating them produces names that I like less than the original.

I disagree.

English speakers understand names as Boldhome, Jonstown and Wilmskirk.

Why shouldn't Spanish speakers understand them too?

 

In my games, every English "speaking" name is translated into Catalan:

- Boldhome = Llar-ardida

- Jonstown = Vilajoan

- Wilmskirk = Esglesiola de Guiem

As a GM, it's my duty to keep the flavour of those names, and forcing a player to use English names he doesn't understand would obscure their meaning.

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I prefer to translate for the same reasons as above I I'm doing it as often as I can. However, I see 3 main difficulties:

1- the first name you see or play with impregnates your mind. It is somehow difficult to change an old habit

2- some names are loosing their their "punch" through translation because of the language structure. Germanic languages like English can easily build words by puttig them together. I guess this helps translating an English name into German. But for romanic languages you often have to find two or more separate words, which makes of a short straight forward english name a long and heavy translated one - and it is even worst with a verb. Elder Wilds = Anciennes Terres Sauvages , Wilmkirk (which looks more like Dutch than English) = Église de Guillaume. But I have no problem with Jonville.

3- some translated names sounds simply horrible or too weird, or are simply untranslatable, like Trollkin (??), Apprenant des Dieux (Godlearner), or Dragon-triton (Dragonewt). In this case, it could be better to reinvent it, or to use the gloranthan name (Enlo instead of Trollkin).

 

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Sometimes I translate, sometimes I don't...

Most of my players are rather fluent in english, they are usually able to understand the meaning behind the original names.

When they meet something new I give them the name I am used to or I translate it on the fly. How it sings in french tells me whether I give the original name to the players or a translation.

If a translated name sounds ridiculous or does not sound well in French, I give the original name to the players and some hints so that they take notice of the name and understand where it is coming from.

I don't use the french RuneQuest edition though, I don't like it.

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13 hours ago, Nel said:

I disagree.

English speakers understand names as Boldhome, Jonstown and Wilmskirk.

Why shouldn't Spanish speakers understand them too?

 

In my games, every English "speaking" name is translated into Catalan:

- Boldhome = Llar-ardida

- Jonstown = Vilajoan

- Wilmskirk = Esglesiola de Guiem

As a GM, it's my duty to keep the flavour of those names, and forcing a player to use English names he doesn't understand would obscure their meaning.

I get your point. And I fully understand that every language can have names that are as cool as any other's. However, in my games, precisely because Wilmskirk sounds exotic to most people in my country, it fits best in an exotic fantasy land. If I translated Jonstown to my own language and got the equivalent of "Vilajoan", that would make me think too much of my own reality. It would no longer sound like an orlanthi town. And I don't want that for me or my players.

That being said, I think it all comes down to what Zit said: "The first thing you read impregnates your mind". So that's most probably why I'm okay with "Murallas Blancas", but not with "Vilajoan".

I'm curious: how do you translate Swenstown into Catalan? Do you also translate "Argrath" or "Arkat" and just call him "Liberator"?

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20 minutes ago, Runeblogger said:

...

I'm curious: how do you translate Swenstown into Catalan? Do you also translate "Argrath" or "Arkat" and just call him "Liberator"?

Names like "Argrath" or "Arkat" I wouldn't translate (in my case into German not Catalan :-)), because they do not have any implicit meaning in the original English text. Therefore I do not try to give them a similar implicit meaning in my language.

On the other hand "Boldhome" is obviously a construct out of English words, which gives the name of this town an implicit meaning in the original English text: " the home of the bold". In this case I would try to create a similar underlying meaning in the language I'm using in my games.

As Nel already said:

14 hours ago, Nel said:

...

As a GM, it's my duty to keep the flavour of those names, and forcing a player to use English names he doesn't understand would obscure their meaning.

 

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12 hours ago, Corvantir said:

Most of my players are rather fluent in english, they are usually able to understand the meaning behind the original names.

When they meet something new I give them the name I am used to or I translate it on the fly. How it sings in french tells me whether I give the original name to the players or a translation.

Translating on the fly is quite risky, and I wouldn't be so confident in the fluency of "English as Second Language" speakers.

A word-for-word translation might result in nonsensical constructs if we don't know those words' history and semantic meaning, that is: not just the definition appearing in the dictionary.

For example, when finding a name like Stormwalk Mountains, we are shocked by the juxtaposition of two antithetical substantives: Storm + Walk.

The position of "Walk" tells us that it doesn't work here as a verb, neither does "Storm". It's not a "Storming walk" nor a "Walking storm".

The average ESL speaker (and the on-the-fly translator) would immediately think of the substantive "Walk" as something like "A trip made by moving calmly on the foot", in Spanish "paseo".

Stormwalk = Trip on the foot made by the storm

No way!

So let's check more meanings of "Walk" as a substantive. The Wiktionary's 9th and 10th entries define "Walk" this way:

Quote

(historical) A place for keeping and training puppies for dogfighting.

(historical) An enclosed area in which a gamecock is confined to prepare him for fighting.

And, in my opinion, this fits the description of the Stormwalk Mountains in S:KoH p.116:

Quote

Upon its slopes, Orlanth tamed the Storm Bull to be his follower. Upon its peak, Hendrik the Free hides in splendour in the ice and snow. Orlanthi priests perform rituals to tame Urox and to gain his blessings against Chaos. Followers of the hero Gorangi Vak can tame the ferocious sky bulls that live on the top, gaining powerful flying mounts.

Notice that I bolded three times the action that gave name to the mountain: the taming of Urox by Orlanth.

By taming him, Orlanth didn't weaken Urox, but walked him "to be his follower" ... as if the Storm Bull was a puppy!

Thus, the translation of Stormwalk Mountain into any other language should evocate this meaning, rendering "Stormwalk" as "the place where the storm tamed", not "the place where the storm moved calmly on the foot".

Since I don't know any noun in Catalan meaning "taming field", I change the focus on who tames (the storm) instead of what is done (the walk, the taming):

Stormwalk Mountain = Muntanya Tempestaadondadora (Taming storm, Storm that tames)

Adondar is a verb meaning "Force anybody else to get used, Force anybody else to obey, Tame, Turn into docile"

Yes, "Tempestaadondadora" sounds strange and it's much longer than "Stormwalk", but at least it can be properly pronounced by Catalan speakers and they can relate it's meaning with the history of the mountain. Otherwise, they would pronounce a couple of senseless syllables which they should mnenotechnically relate to the mountain.

This is the task of translators, conveying meanings without the reader realizing it.

By the way, the first edition of HeroQuest in Spanish translates Stormwalk Mountain as "Montaña del Paso tormentoso" in page 227. This is another non literal translation, taking "Walk" as "Paso" (Pass) and "Storm" as an adjective "tormentoso" (angushing, torturing).

I don't criticize this approach because, as you have seen, an exact translation requires reformulatig the whole syntagma. That's easy to do in isolating languages like English or Chinese, not so in synthetic languages like Catalan or Spanish, and very difficult in agglutinative languages like Finnish.

 

11 hours ago, Runeblogger said:

I'm curious: how do you translate Swenstown into Catalan?

Unlike Jon, which I translated as Joan in Jonstown (Vilajoan), Swen (eventually deriving from Sven) is a Scandinavian name without previous adaptation into Catalan (nor Southern European languages):

File:Sven map.png

So I would just adapt Swen into the rules of Catalan pronuntiation and ortography:

- w > v

- despite being written with an "e", it's not prononunced as /e/, but as /ɛ/, marked as "è"

All in all, Swenstown = Vilasvèn

 

11 hours ago, Runeblogger said:

Do you also translate "Argrath" or "Arkat" and just call him "Liberator"?

Neither Argrath and Arkat are "speaking names". An English reader is not reminded of any further significance after reading them.

Of course, they could be also regularized with the ortography of the players' language. Just taking into account the written forms, Arkat would turn into Árcat, and Argrath as Árgraz, in Spanish.

But I wouldn't do it: Translators don't use to adapt ortographically isolated nouns, like Arkat and Argrath. Only the ones appearing with proper substantives or adjectives, like Swenstown, which has a "town" that must be translated.

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2 hours ago, Yelm's Light said:

Being a native English speaker I don't have much of a dog in this fight, but I always took Stormwalk Mts. to mean 'a place so high that you could walk in the storm.'

The thing about English is that there is no clearly "correct" interpretation of something like "Stormwalk," unless some other piece of the literature gave further explanation.... thus further muddying the translational waters.

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On 03/11/2016 at 10:59 AM, Nel said:

Translating on the fly is quite risky, and I wouldn't be so confident in the fluency of "English as Second Language" speakers.

This is why I give my players some hints. Moreover, the terms "on the fly" are not exactly true as I have read the background before and thought about the names and their possible translation before.   ;)

Many gloranthan names become awkward or ridiculous when translated in french and a lot of them don't need a translation in my opinion. I often prefer the original names. Sometimes, I even prefer a partial translation over an ugly accurate or litteral one. I would rather toss away "walk" and translate "Stormwalk mountain" by "Montagne des Tempêtes" or "Montagne de l'Orage" and give some background so that the players understand the mythical features of the place.

Edited by Corvantir
Typo
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On 31/10/2016 at 9:43 PM, metcalph said:

The story behind that was that the translator had difficulty deciding whether God Learners should be the Learners about God or the Gods that Learn (an interpretation unknown to me until I heard this story)

So he asked Greg.

Whose answer was "Well, it's ambiguous..."

As the translator in question, I find amazing that this anecdote has been kept intact in some memories other than mine or Greg's :) 

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On ‎11‎/‎3‎/‎2016 at 5:59 AM, Nel said:

the translation of Stormwalk Mountain into any other language should evocate this meaning, rendering "Stormwalk" as "the place where the storm tamed", not "the place where the storm moved calmly on the foot".

Except that I as a native English speaker would not have interpreted it that way as that definition of 'walk' is not current/common usage.  To walk is to travel.  Therefore, I interpret the mountain name as the place where the storm (or specifically storm gods) walked (or travelled or walked up).

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22 hours ago, jajagappa said:

Except that I as a native English speaker would not have interpreted it that way as that definition of 'walk' is not current/common usage.  To walk is to travel.  Therefore, I interpret the mountain name as the place where the storm (or specifically storm gods) walked (or travelled or walked up).

I would have interpreted "Stormwalk" as the poetic name for the spiraling ridge leading up to the flattened peak, resembling the ritual spiral walkways leading up the sacred hilltops used by the Orlanthi for their rites. You have one of those on Orlanth Hill in Nochet.

While I started my interaction with RuneQuest translating the rules to German (before I knew there would be an official translation), I never felt comfortable translating place names or personal names. These translations can often change the voice in which a story is conveyed, the subtle double-entendres or additional associations I may have with the term in the original language. I did have my run-in with mis-translations during my term as the editor for the German RQ-fanzine Free INT, which was the club magazine of the Deutsche RuneQuest-Gesellschaft e.V. better known as Chaos Society (and for publishing Tradetalk, which started as the English language "best of" feature for Free INT).

I do most of my Glorantha thinking in English. When I encounter translated versions, I judge them not so much for literal accuracy, but for capturing the spirit of the original version. And, if possible, its original verse scheme.

"Broobasher" is a short, three syllable nomicker.  To "bash" translates as "(er)schlagen, zerschmettern" (literally to beat/slay or to shatter) and results in a polysyllabic monstrosity in German that no silent menace-type of a bully would bother to wield.

I have seen and admired the full translation the French have done to the Glorantha material. It creates its own kind of mood, which is appropriate to the setting, but it sounds completely different. (German translation efforts have remained sadly rudimentary. Most of the German deep fans use English, and English language terms when playing in German language - which might be at fault for not shearing off a better proportion from all those "The Dark Eye" players running around in our country.)

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2 hours ago, Joerg said:

I would have interpreted "Stormwalk" as the poetic name for the spiraling ridge leading up to the flattened peak, resembling the ritual spiral walkways leading up the sacred hilltops used by the Orlanthi for their rites. You have one of those on Orlanth Hill in Nochet.

Yes, that's works too and gives a more precise definition than my earlier comment: the Storm (i.e. any storm god) walks in a spiraling upward path.

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My players are not english speaker, except one, and i'm an old RQ-oriflam (french version) player so i use and complete the old RQ translation (yes i use Lunar not Lunaire). It's a better immersion for my players and i.

I translate everything if possible and try to catch the meaning of the english name to create/adapt in french (thanks for online dictionary).

If i can't translate (exemple : EWF*, Boldhome) i explain the meaning to my players, but there are very few names.

But in game i don't play with my translate-lexical so sometime i forget the translation and use another version or the english version :lol:

Very funny for my players.


* I use the rune/writing EWF and the youf sound but i translate it by "Empire des amis des wyrms"

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Hi Menhir and welcome on board.

I started playing in Glorantha with RQ2 and our group turned towards RQ3 when it came out, and then towards the french translation by Oriflam. I have never really appreciated RQ3 and the earlier Avalon Hill books, but the french translation contributed to turn me away from RuneQuest. This translation was an awful work to my eyes, especially the art. But at this time, most of our group was not fluent in English and we kept to the french version.

Though I finally came to appreciate "Lunaire" more than "Lunar", it took me a while to change my mind about this. So I understand you.   ;)

As far as Glorantha is concerned, there are a lot of things that are really difficult to translate in french and Oriflam did a lot of bad choices in my opinion, the "Erudits de l'ambigu" being one of the worst to me. As the vast majority of my Gloranthan books are in english, I don't use my french versions. I don't like them and it would ask me to juggle with french and english versions of the same names, which is confusing.

I am lucky enough to have players that are fluent in english and thus sometimes I translate, sometimes I don't, it depends on how the translation sings to the ear and if it sounds ridiculous or not. When I don't translate, I give some hints about the original meaning, if needed, and go on with the english name. I don't translate Boldhome for example but tell my player that it means something like "Fière Demeure" as it is easy to miss the various components of a name when playing. The pronunciation is usually a cross between French and English as a pure English pronunciation in the middle of a french sentence sounds weird. If you have ever watched a Quebec version of a US movie, you know what I am talking about.   ;)

 

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I have a suggestion, that comes from my work in another area of gaming - can we get this this all made up into an unofficial resource for others to use. I've been working with translators on another project for which I now have a list of keywords translated into four other languages. This was to ensure that there is consistency across the foreign language versions of the game. The intention would not be to produce a definitive list or to correct each others interpretations, but to just get out there and include multiple versions of the same name where they exist. The Glorantha Wiki is the obvious home for this.

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2 hours ago, David Scott said:

I have a suggestion, that comes from my work in another area of gaming - can we get this this all made up into an unofficial resource for others to use. I've been working with translators on another project for which I now have a list of keywords translated into four other languages. This was to ensure that there is consistency across the foreign language versions of the game. The intention would not be to produce a definitive list or to correct each others interpretations, but to just get out there and include multiple versions of the same name where they exist. The Glorantha Wiki is the obvious home for this.

I love this idea.I actually suggested to Rick Meints that in the future, they could provide PDFs of the maps without any names, so people like me who don't game in English, can write the names of the places in their own language over the maps.
OK, so how do we start? :huh:

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