Q&A: Does Ocarina of Time have Farting Cabbages?

A few days ago a reader sent me an interesting e-mail.


I’m also a professional translator, although it’s English-to-French, and until recently I worked for a big international agency. A couple of years ago, I worked on the English-to-French Canadian translation/adaptation of Ocarina of Time 3D, based on the French European translation for N64.

It was an interesting experience, especially the long phone conference with Nintendo’s localization and legal departments over the ESRB requirements and all. There were a couple of weird things that I found in the N64 original French translation, mainly how the Flower Bomb was translated as “chou péteur” (literally, Farting Cabbage). Considering how NOA told us specifically to NOT add jokes where there were none and other similar instructions, I had to fight with them to NOT keep the French translation (finding out what it meant literally did the job).

Makes me wonder, though: that’s something that the original Japanese version may very well have. How are the Flower Bombs called in the Zelda games in Japan? At first I thought that the original French translations were trying to be hip and edgy, but I now wonder if they didn’t just do a literal translation in that case? Something’s for sure, the Deku Tree was renamed in French the Mojo Tree because “Deku” pronounced in French is “de cul”, or “shitty”.

Anyway, I’ve bookmarked your site and will be sure to read it through! 🙂

Farting cabbage? Shitty trees? Oh man, localization can be like walking through a field of land mines sometimes 😯

For reference, I took a look at the French version of the N64 game and indeed, it says “chou péteur“!

Anyway, time to get the question itself – what did the original Japanese game call them? Well, I took a look at the Japanese and English versions of the game too and got some screenshots for reference:

Here we see that the Japanese text says バクダン花, which indeed translates as “bomb flower”. So it looks like the French translation was the wacky one – and it sounds like the important folks at Nintendo never really knew about it for well over a decade!

Are there any more strange translation changes like this in other games? If you know of any, let me know in the comments or contact me some other way!

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  1. Oh good, you’re still updating! 🙂 I now have a request.

    I’ll admit I’ve never actually played this game, but in his Ghosts N’ Goblins video, the Angry Video Game Nerd pointed out some strange enemy names in the manual. There’s a giant cyclops-like creature called a “Unicorn”, and two separate enemies known as “Satan” and “The Devil”. I’m assuming these are most likely mistranslations, but can you check the Japanese manual just to be sure?

    1. I’m something of a GnG fan, and I do know Satan and Lucifer are separate in the series. Though I don’t know why they censored one but not the other…

    2. I can help with that.

      Nope, none of these are mistranslations.
      “Satan” is サタン, which is just Satan written in katakana.

      “The Devil” is 大魔王, which is that same kinda-iffy-to-translate title Bowser is referred to as in the Japanese Super Mario Bros, as Mato brought up at http://legendsoflocalization.com/super-mario-bros/manuals/ . In the context of this game, “The Devil” is a perfectly good translation.

      As for “Unicorn”… yep, he’s 一角獣 in Japanese, which literally translates to “one-horned beast”, and is the Japanese word for those horses with horns on their forehead. Why they decided to use that word for a cyclops of all things? Good question, but it’s not something the translators came up with.

  2. HA! Nice, Nintendo of France. Or maybe it’s not NOF. Maybe it’s something different. Like NCU. Nintendo Company UNlimited. After all, why are they limiting themselves?

    I’m gonna shut up now.

    1. I just read this comment and started laughing. Then I saw the username and realized that I had posted it. Just what the hell had I been doing before writing this comment!?

  3. I have no idea why they’d make this joke, but “chou péteur” sounds like a play on “petit chou” (little cabbage), which is a term of endearment in French.

  4. I also have a question. Was Guile originally supposed to tell you to “Go home and be a family man”?

    1. The quote’s
      くにへ かえるんだな。
      おまえにも かぞく がいるだろう・・・


      So more or less. Minus the first part, and without the actual gender specified. Context can be tricky in Japanese, gender, singular/plural, even whole nouns. A lot of the time, it’s up to editors need to catch and fix it because just looking at scripts, it’s impossible, although in this case, the translator probably should have known it was a general quote for use against male and female characters, even if there’s just one.

      If you’re looking for it, you can still see it a lot even in very recent ‘polished’ translations too (Harvest Moon:ANB and Atelier Ayesha come immediately to mind).

        1. It’s been a while since I played it, but the main example that stood out and annoyed me was that they referred to the flowers both singularly and plural. Given Japanese structure, I’m almost certain that it was (erroneously) translated in the singular and they missed fixing all of it.

  5. It is a pun in french, but not totally off the original meaning. “Péter” while indeed meaning farting, also means exploding.
    The translation also is a reference to the “Chou Fleur”, which is the name for Cauliflower in french.

  6. So did they change it in OoT 3D? If so, what did they change it to? What about other Zelda games that have bomb flowers in them, how is it translated there? I just checked a French Wind Waker text dump and it’s “chou péteur” in that too, so it’s likely they wanted to keep it consistent between games.

    1. Actually, I just checked it myself with my copy of OoT 3D. Other than some text formatting changes, the text is identical to what is shown in the screenshot in your article. So even in OoT 3D, they’re still “choux péteurs”. Apparently (at least according to http://fr.zelda.wikia.com/wiki/Chou_P%C3%A9teur) some Zelda games do use the more straightforward “Fleurs Bombes” translation.

      1. Hi, I’m the translator who originally submitted the question/comment in this Q&A, and I can confirm that for the French Canadian version, we changed it to a more straightforward translation of “flower bomb”. Not as elegant a solution, I admit, but we were told by NOA to avoid adding jokes of our own where there were none in the English version. The cauliflower reference and the other meaning of “péter” as “explode” would have worked out if 1. “péter” wasn’t considered by some to pejorative (again, having to follow NOA’s translation guidelines) and 2. the flower bombs actually looked at all like cabbages (which they don’t).

    2. “A Link Between Worlds” finally re-did the translation of Bomb Flower, it’s now correctly translated “Fleur Bombe”.

      Can’t say about anything else in the game, because I play it in English (I only saw “Fleur bombe” above the shoulder of another guy)

  7. I think I remember something about the German version of this game, when you talk to Zelda with the Keaton Mask.

  8. Quoi c’est que la problème avec «chou péteur» ? Ça rassemble un chou plutôt qu’une fleur puis ça pète, point comme faire passer du vent mais comme faire exploser. C’est une bonne traduction d’après moi, point comique en toute.

    Puis là j’en avais jamais su pourquoi on aurait changé le nom de l’arbre Dékou, mais là ça fait de suite. N’auront point voulu changer l’épellation puis «ku» sera véritablement prononcé la même que «cul» allieurs. «Cul» c’est prononcé avec un «c» mouillé par sus nous.

  9. Pendant toute mon enfance, j ai detesté julien bardakoff, c etait toujours son nom qui apparaissait dans les crédits pour la traduction française.
    Je pense qu un des pires jeux à ce niveau était lylat wars ( starfox64) où on avait es voix en anglais, et le texte affiché à l écran en français était souvent très différent.

    Je ne me rappelle pas precisemment, mais je sais que dans pas mal de jeux, rien qu en lisant la phrase française on avait que c etait mal traduit


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