YKK Forum

Why no phonetic translations in YKK?

I hate to sound demanding, I am sure it takes you a while to translate the spoken text, but I was wondering why you don't translate the phonetics as well?

When I got the english comic book for Miyazaki's Spirited Away, it included a section on how to interpret the phonetic sounds, like the heart beat, the sound of the car passing, footsteps. I notice a lot of the phonetic alpahbet symbols in YKK, like when her scooter is passing, etc.

Is it just to hard to translate that? Do you feel that there isn't a good reason to, that retaining it helps retain the Japanese feel to the comic?


- Steven Robinson
Wednesday, March 12, 2003

I'm inconsistent about translating sound effects. I often don't translate the sound of vehicles, because the meaning is obvious and I'm unhappy with the feel of my English translations. Some "sound effects" are untranslatable: how do you translate the sound of staring off into space?

I do try to translate anything which isn't necessarily obvious from context--the snap-crackle when Kokone turns on her scooter, for example.

I probably err a bit too much on the side of leaving things untranslated, however.

- dn
Wednesday, March 12, 2003

No No!!! So little of the meaning of this comic is actually conveyed with words, it almost doesn't matter that you leave some untranslated. Thanks for replying.

- Steven Robinson
Wednesday, March 12, 2003

On the other hand, so little of this manga is conveyed with words that sound effects can be pregnant with meaning.

- NoSanninWa
Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Personally, I always find translating sound effects to be sort of a waste. I already know what a car sounds like or what wind sounds like. I really don't need to be told.

- Jason Leinen
Thursday, March 13, 2003

The funny part about the translations in Spirited away, was the way the Japanese HEAR the sounds.

- Steven Robinson
Thursday, March 13, 2003

I think that pretty often the sound effects are written in a way that they sound. they can be long and stretched or many short ones. plus it can be pretty time demanding to edit them. especially the big ones.

- jonasfx
Tuesday, March 25, 2003

I like the trans to sounds, but I don't like them edited into the picture, I prefer the text under the picture... like:

<sfx: clap clap clap>

since sounds in manga are part of the art, I consider it a very bad thing to take the kanji out to put the "blam blam blam" or whatever sound, in english

- Anguz
Thursday, March 27, 2003

The Japanese sound efects for things tend to be much different from how english speakers think about things. It may just be confusing if your write down that they say.

I can read the sound effects stuff, and I honestly don't get much more out of it. (I also look really wierd saying the effects out loud to myself in the computer lab, puzzling out how it represents what is pictured).

- rob
Thursday, May 8, 2003

You can learn all the kana used for sound effects in a weekend. Easier to make people do that than it is to edit all of them. Heh.

- Defiler
Thursday, June 19, 2003

May I ask where/how you learned the sound effects? Most textbooks don't seem to cover such "trivialities" and I haven't found a decent webpage anywhere.

Thursday, February 5, 2004





- dDave
Thursday, February 5, 2004

Also try this (and the books they list):

- The Other Dave
Thursday, February 5, 2004

for the do-it-yourself-er, use this excellent Katakana Hepburn chart. Unfortunately, it doesn't have the hiragana.


I am grateful that you put in so much work in making this available to us. And anyway, I prefer leaving the sfx as they are for aesthetic reasons also.


- Ian Darrow
Thursday, February 5, 2004

I feel it is best to literally translate the sound effect to the side (ie, underneath the panel) so that reader has at least some idea what the sound is like, or in the panel if appropriate*. Some sounds should be literally translated, others have hidden meaning (as pointed out) which makes it a bit more difficult to figure out. With a bit of imagination the reader should be able to figure it out.

Since I can read hiragana/katakana to a reasonable degree it's not too much of a problem for me, however I do feel readers miss out (especially TokyoPop recent releases, they sort of half do the job, or not at all sometimes) without having some sort of sound effect backup.

Sure, it sounds trivial to translate the sound of a car, or something mundane like that, but sometimes it does matter - how do you translate the difference say, where it's clear from sound effects that one car is much more powerful than another? Or a blowoff valve activating?

The more people read and recognise sound effects the better as they can map over the effect into real life (for instance, there's been sound effects I never figured out -what- they were until I heard it in real life). As an example, I never figured out what Alpha's "hi~n" expression was until I actually heard it being used on the drama CD's (there's apparently 2 uses or more for it as well) as nobody here uses such an expression at all.

* By this I don't advocate "translating" it into English sound effects. I get mighty tired of the lack of imagination most sound effects are from non-Japanese comics.

- PC
Thursday, February 5, 2004

sorry to be off topic, but is there an online translation service to translate English text into Hepburn Japanese?

- Rubii
Sunday, May 23, 2004

I heard Audrey was a Japanese icon, but I didn't know she spoke the language.

- steven
Sunday, May 23, 2004

I think it was Katherine... <j/k>

I don't know if this is exactly what you were wanting, but I like Jeffrey's excellent online translator:


but it handles one word at a time best.

- Ian Darrow
Sunday, May 23, 2004

Here's another good translation site.

- Zelmel
Wednesday, May 26, 2004

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