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Dark Souls III hit 10 million units in worldwide sales in 2020, putting the entire series at over 27 million units sold, making it one of the better-selling game series of all time. The English versions of the game, however, have translation jobs that are far from perfect, being filled with all manner of mistranslations and odd localisation choices.

Frontline Gaming Japan takes a look at ten of these in this article.

This article contains spoilers for the Dark Souls series (Dark Souls 1, 2 and 3)

Also see: Safer Sephiroth, W-Materia and More: 7 Mistranslations and Other Oddities in Final Fantasy VII

 

(Undead) Rapport

This spell which makes an enemy ally with the user and attack other enemies, known as “Undead Rapport” in Dark Souls 1 and simply “Rapport” in Dark Souls 3, the word that was mistranslated to “Rapport” is in fact charm (魅了), is a word commonly used for the status effect in RPGs which causes a character to attack their own allies.

 

Affinity

This spell, which fires homing projectiles, was originally correctly translated to “Pursuers” (追う者たち) in Dark Souls 1 before being changed to “Affinity” in Dark Souls 2 and 3. One can presume that this was to prevent confusion with the boss known as The Pursuer in 2, but there seems to be little correlation between the spell’s new name and its original one, or its effect, and changing the existing name of a spell to accomodate a different change to another name might seem counterintuitive.

 

The Pursuer

Unsurprisingly, given how there is a spell originally called “Pursuers” in all three games, The Pursuer’s name was actually different in Japanese as well, originally being The Cursed One (呪縛者). Oddly enough, in the English version of Dark Souls 3 the player can obtain the shield used by the boss, the Curseward Greatshield, which references its original Japanese name.

 

Profound Still

This spell which stops the casting of other spells, found in Dark Souls 2, is simply Deep Silence (深い沈黙) in Japanese, with “silence” being the exact same word that is commonly used in RPGs for the status effect which prevents characters from casting magic.

 

Soul of Cinder

While many series fans speculated over the meaning of the name of this boss, in Japanese it is simply known as the Avatar of Lords (王たちの化身), and is described as an avatar of all the previous lords who linked the flame.

 

Soul Stream

Though Soul Stream (ソウルの奔流) is technically an accurate translation, it is inconsistent with Dark Souls 2, where the same spell’s name was instead translated to Soul Geyser. It might have been a case of the translations being fixed, but that would contradict how Rapport and Affinity’s names remained unchanged in 3.

 

Strike Damage

In Japanese, the three kinds of physical damage are slashing/cutting (斬撃), piercing/stabbing (刺突), and blunt (打撃): In the English versions of the games, these are known as Slash, Thrust, and Strike. While slash is fairly obvious, and thrust is somewhat accurate, “strike” as a translation for “blunt” is quite inappropriate; while it could be a fitting translation on its own, the same cannot be said when it is being constrasted with the other two.

 

Royal Rat Authority

One of the most perplexing boss names in the series comes from Dark Souls 2’s Royal Rat Authority. In Japanese, however, its name is extremely straightforward, being The Rat King’s Test (ネズミの王の試練). Given how the player is given an audience with the Rat King immediately after defeating this boss, it seems fairly obvious that the boss is in fact a test from the Rat King to see if the player is worthy. Similarly, the Royal Rat Vanguard is in Japanese “The Rat King’s Vanguard” (ネズミの王の尖兵).

 

Flexile Sentry

Found in Dark Souls 2, in Japanese, this boss is known as the Executor of Exile (流罪の執行者): It is responsible for exiling people who have been sentenced to exile. The similarity between “exile” and “flexile” makes one wonder if this was the result of a bad spellcheck, typo, or a combination of both.

 

Loss of the Annals

Dark Souls 1 has a ring in which the character who would later appear in Dark Souls 3 as the Nameless King is mentioned, and it is stated that “his foolishness led to a loss of the annals, and rescinding of his deific status”. This makes it sound like the Nameless King foolishly lost some history books, which led him to being stripped of his position, but this is in fact bad wording, if not a mistranslation: In Japanese, the flavour text of the ring reads “his foolish acts led to him being exiled from the gods and expunged from all records”. He did not lose the annals, but was lost from them. This is also consistent with the lore revealed in Dark Souls 3, where his foolish acts are detailed, and they do not involve him losing any annals.

 

Also see: Safer Sephiroth, W-Materia and More: 7 Mistranslations and Other Oddities in Final Fantasy VII

 

Did you ever find particular parts of Dark Souls’ lore or story hard to understand, and suspect that it might be due to the translation? Let us know in the comments below!

 

9 COMMENTS

  1. Wow, just wow, profound still and undead rapport are some google translate tier nonsense, how on earth did those manage to get through?

  2. Saw this on the SBFP sub and didn’t want to bother posting there because the posters there are a braindead hivemind of vile, ignorant children.

    These are some of the comments from that shithole.

    >Profound Still and Undead Rapport especially feel like localizations.

    Those are worse than google translate, they literally looked up the words in a dictionary and chosethe most inappropriate possible ones. “Profound still” makes no sense in English and “rapport” is completely inappropriate, do you even know what the word means you retarded child? You aren’t building a relationship or reputation with these fucking zombies, you’re casting a goddamned magic spell to temporarily brainwash them, holy shit.

    >This feels like a nitpicky look at the literal translation of the Japanese text versus the localization.
    >Re: he lost the annals: I don’t think that’s a bad way of putting it

    fucking retard ESL

    >Rally is a pretty fitting word. It was common for the Victorians (and the Georgians before them) to use that word to mean becoming revitalized. Generally it was meant in a “I’ve rallied my spirits” sort of thing, but in the world of Bloodborne, where blood heals you instantly, the word use makes sense.

    fucking retard ESL #2

    >Most of these “mistranslations” are perfectly fine. “Profound Still” and “Deep Silence” are synonyms, they mean the same thing.

    fucking retard ESL #3

    I hope every last one of these idiots dies of cancer

    • I hear you. Every single time there’s a discussion about mistranslations, a couple of morons will pop up and argue to the death that they’re not mistranslations, even when they clearly are. Every single time. It’s pretty clear that they don’t understand English so why the hell they’re arguing about it I don’t know.

      I looked at reddit after reading your comment and yeah, that’s one hell of a rancid shithole. This guy stood out the most to me: “Rapport makes just as much sense as Charm and has a more arcane flavour to it. Same with Affinity for a homing missile. I don’t think this author has enough of an understanding of English to determine what’s a mistranslation”

      The sheer irony of this chucklefuck accusing anyone of not understanding English. And of course he’s being upvoted, because Reddit is a home to stupid people.

      I wish these people would just inject themselves with bleach like their precious president told them to.

    • A butthurt guy on the SBFP subreddit posted your comment there, Please don’t assume that everyone on the sub is like those people, it’s a small but very vocal minority circlejerking all over each other like u/Diomedes9712.

      Do these people not know what the word rapport even means?

      Of course I would never speak up against them on the sub because they’d just whine and downvote me. It’s an echochamber of ignorant people content with being ignorant. Basically a microcosm of Trump’s America. Sad.

      • I really don’t think those guys are American. I can see why you’d assume so given how their hot takes are pure cancer, but I’d like to think that basic education in the US would result in people who understand English well enough that they wouldn’t be THIS stupid.

        That Diomedes guy is pure rancid and probably IS American though, given how obnoxious he is. Kind of pathetic how he talks about english ability when he clearly has the vocabulary of an eight year old.

  3. I’m fluent in Japanese and actually know exactly why people mistranslate dageki as strike. In Japanese it’s used FIGURATIVELY to mean “deal a blow/strike” like politically or financially or to a reputation, and also it’s the Japanese translation of the strike in military/tactical contexts like “carrier strike group”. Because of these as precedence, dictionaries list “strike” and “blow” as possible translations of it. And Japanese to English dictionaries are notoriously bad, most only listing single word translations and not definitions, which means that they don’t bother to explain that it means blunt trauma.

    You can find the real definition for this context easily in Japanese (“物を激しく打つこと” or “格闘技において、拳足を用いて相手を打突する攻撃。殴打技、打撃技、パンチング、蹴り技を参照”) while also seeing where the obviously wrong translation used to get “strike” comes from (“戦術理論において、敵部隊を火力と突撃を以って攻撃すること”).

    So basically, it boils down to the translators straight up being inexperienced, incompetent, ignorant, or any combination of the three.

    Anyone with any actual experience in Japanese knows what the word is supposed to mean in this context and there’s really no excuse as to why a professional translator should get it wrong. If someone translates it to strike/blow in this context, that’s a sure sign of incompetence and how they’re using a bad Japanese to English dictionary while not actually understanding what the word means.

    Unfortunately, many video game translators are very obviously not professional translators. If they were, they’d probably get real jobs. I work at a Toyota plant and I’ve had bottom of the barrel Japanese game “translators” try to apply for the position of a corporate-level translator and/or interpreter. They really are just rejects who barely know the language, so they try to wield what little power they have over their shitty little localization job as a form of rebellion. No one in the industry takes them seriously.

  4. As for “Rapport” and “Profound Still”, that’s just atrocious. I don’t know for certain if this is the case here, but Bandai Namco is infamous for sometimes hiring southeast asian translators who barely understand English to translate video games because they’re really cheap (refer to the SRW OGMD fiasco) and this reeks of it.

    It’s ridiculous that anyone who understands English at all could defend these, and according to the other comments there are people on Reddit claiming that these are not mistranslations, or that they’re localizations? What the actual fuck. What the hell kind of illiterate mongoloid looks at this shit and says this is intelligible, let alone coherent?

    I don’t go to Reddit because I’ve heard of how it’s an anti-intellectual echo chamber, and this seems to confirm it. That’s just pathetic.

  5. In the end it doesn’t matter how bad the translation is, because gamers just don’t care. Nobody plays Dark Souls for the story. Nobody plays Street Fighter or Monster Hunter for the story. JRPG fans will SAY that they’re playing JRPGs for the story but they’re really just doing it for the waifus. Nobody cares about the story, so game companies can afford to just hire the cheapest translators possible to do bare minimum effort slipshod localization jobs, which maximizes their profits and has little to no effect on sales. That’s just the way it is.

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