Posted on November 25, 2019 by Heidi Mandelin‧22 Comments
A dating sim popped up in the Nintendo eShop last month called Summer Sweetheart. It’s a Chinese game that was given a Japanese localization – including Japanese voice acting – that was then localized again into English.
Because the eShop version of Summer Sweetheart has jumped between multiple languages and cultures, the result is some seriously weird English text. Some translation problems are what you’d normally see in a poor Japanese-to-English translation, but other problems seem more unique. Maybe they’e the result of poor Chinese-to-English translations or even Chinese-to-Japanese translations.
There are two main girls in Summer Sweetheart to choose from as your roommate: a strong, opinionated cartoonist who recently graduated art school, and other one who thinks she’s a cat. The majority of the live-action videos you see is of your experience sharing an apartment with one or the other.
There are also many other girls you can meet on your strolls through town, whom you can befriend and ask out on dates. You learn new things about each girl the more time you spend with them, which helps you make better decisions on where to take them for dates and what to say to them.
Nearly every spoken line in this game has issues. Below is a gallery of just a few examples.
The stranger are ignored and go away. (Grammar mistakes like this are very common throughout the game.)
"I just can't get used to he overtakes my car.Not only he overtakes the car, but also he violent the traffic rule, so rude, it seems that I am humiliated." ("Violate" became "violent".)
"We were catching a crimina. He used coffee as the contact track with out informant."
These are just a tiny selection of the strange translations in Summer Sweetheart, so if you want to see more, and you can handle awkward live-action videos of girls pretending the camera is a person, check out the game for yourself. I’ve also seen videos of people streaming the game for added fun. And if you discover any other Switch games with bad translations, share them in the comments or on Twitter so we can take a detailed look at them here!
More like “summer stock art”!
I’m betting they decided “puppy” was better than “pup” and did a Replace All on the script.
Most likely. This exact thing has happened in a few other bad Japanese-to-English translations, like Super Robot Wars OG: The Moon Dwellers having lines such as “What a Damn itty operator” (as opposed to “sh*tty”).
Someone needs to teach them the power of regexes.
“Puppypies” is kinda cute though.
Puppy, pies? Pies means dog in Polish. Is this a very convoluted pun?
That, or an ethically dubious dinner.
Did they change the characters’ names for the Japanese localization, or did they all have Japanese names in the Chinese original too? Or did they just happen to use kanji that worked as names?
I checked, and it seems that Natsumi has the same name in Chinese & Japanese (well, kanji-wise anyway – pronunciation is surely different) but everyone else was given all-new Japanese names.
Imagine going to your love interest’s door and just saying “By the way, I am visiting you.”
That’s a power move
Wow, even knowing Mandarin Chinese, some of these are rough.
Some things I can contribute though (speaking from the perspective of Mandarin Chinese):
Chinese speakers in English often have trouble knowing when to use infinitives and when not to, especially when it comes to commands or requests.
Pronouns get swapped quite a bit going into English, especially in speech. Although the third-person pronouns are written differently (他vs她, for he and she respectively), they’re pronounced the same. That connection from spoken Chinese occasionally seeps into writing. This might help explain the flub in the Chihiro screenshot.
I looked it up to be sure. In the sweat screenshot, the original option for the bottom choice almost definitely involved the character 擦, meaning to wipe something. Sure enough, the first translation in my dictionary is rub. To wipe something is second. I can’t figure out how the top option got mangled that badly. Space concern, maybe? The sentences I can think of would translate roughly to “let her wipe you off” so I suppose it’s a possibility.
There are things I’m genuinely baffled by as well. The clavicle line prompted me to actually research it. Searching for clavicle and shoulders in Chinese, I found a few very recent fashion articles (like March 2019) talking about how attractive the clavicle area can be, especially with a low cut dress. I then tried searching for lost clavicle, and found a blog post from 2014 reviewing the anime Darker than Black titled “Lost Clavicle and the ‘Black’ Behind the Mask–No Substance”. It seems, possibly, that the phrase may refer to a loss of attractiveness, doubly so in the screenshot since the girl says “in a bare-shoulder dress” implying that she feels that it’s everyone that she lost some attractiveness. Unfortunately, I can’t find any other instances that are near this use at the moment, and I’ve never heard someone use it in real conversation, so it’s just my best guess after about 10-15 minutes of searching.
Okay, one last thing, I was discussing this with my wife and mentioned the “welcome to taste” love was most likely a literal translation of the phrase 欢迎品尝. Broken down, 欢迎 is welcome, usually to welcome somebody inside; 品 is goods; 尝 is to taste. A more proper translation would likely be something like, “Welcome, care to sample?”
Thank you so much for the insight!
No problem! I’m on a bit of a roll since this kind of fascinates me. So here’s a bit more!
I happened upon the scene for the screenshot with Natsumi carrying the dog. The official English (copied from above, so thank you!) is as follows:
Bubu let me bring it here to thank you for taking care of its master. did not you, Bubu?
Let’s make that a little more readable first: Bubu wanted me to bring him here, so he could thank you for taking care of his master. Isn’t that right, Bubu?
There’s a couple things going on here in our transition though. First, Bu is the Pinyin English romanization of the characters 布, duplicated to make a it a cutesy pet name. The character is only there for the sound (it would be pronounced “boo”, so you could technically write it Boo-boo, like the bear).
The second thing we have is this odd use of “let” in the English. This is actually a very common mistake Chinese speakers make in English that all has to do with the character 讓¹ . That one character can be let, make, or have in English making it tricky to translate without a good feel for English grammar. I made my little brother get my ice cream, I let her sit in my seat, and I had my dad drive me to practice could all use that same character as the verb.
After that, the English uses “it” to refer to Natsumi’s dog. This is because of the character 它 (pronounced the same as 他/她 or he/she). It’s a fairly common practice to use a gendered pronoun in English to refer to animals, especially pets (enough that I felt more comfortable assigning Bubu a gender, rather than using “it”. Sorry, Bubu, old pal). For most Chinese though, it’s very normal to use the same pronoun used for objects to refer to animals.
Next, we can look at “can not you,” which was originally 是不是呀. We can ignore the fourth character. It’s a particle, just a sound added on to give the phrase a particular feel, making it feel more carefree and excited. So we still have 是不是, or “be not be².” This verb+negative+verb construction is very common and basically turns the verb into a question. In this case, it’s pretty obviously a rhetorical question. I am wondering why the translator felt the need to insert a “you” when that’s not present in the Chinese though.
Last observation, punctuation is a little fluid in Chinese. Chinese is a foreign language to me, so this should be taken with a grain of salt since I am by no means an expert on their use of punctuation (which is also relatively new compared to the age of the written form). You can see in the Chinese though that even a (admittedly rhetorical) question may not get a question mark. In my experience, this is common in places where the question is obviously a question in context (in this case it uses a question structure). Just something I think is interesting.
¹ Or 让 if you prefer simplified characters. Basically, Chinese has two officially recognized sets of characters for modern writing. Simplified is mostly used in the mainland. Traditional is mostly used in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Japan’s official kanji are like a blend with some variants that only appear in Japan. For example, 传/傳/伝, simplified/traditional/Japanese
² Chinese doesn’t conjugate verbs³ like English would, so the construction doesn’t work as well if it’s more directly translated into English. Unless you want to sound like a courtroom prosecutor.
³ Footnoteception! Anyway, this also explains some other odd phrases that appear. The translator chooses the wrong tense for a verb in a few of the screenshots.
**Wow I never realized how much time these things could take to type up. I mean, I’m on mobile, but still.**
Bah! Just realized the English was “did not you, Bubu?” I messed that up when I typed my comment on it and made it sound worse. The perils of phone commenting and faulty memory. It’s still awkward phrasing, but not quite as far off mark as I made it seem there.
I wanted to clarify something for posterity. I mentioned simplified Chinese characters vs traditional Chinese characters and how they are used in different areas. By all accounts, this game seems to be from mainland China. I just happened to find a YouTuber playing in traditional when I made my comment.
For the most part, switching between the two electronically is pretty easy. Modern versions of Microsoft Word even have a button that will automatically perform the conversion. It’s generally safer to do when converting from traditional to simplified. In fact, we have evidence to suggest that the dev team ran the script through an automatic convertor based on the use of 它 to refer to the dog. Someone who grew up using traditional natively in Taiwan would be more likely to use this character: 牠, to refer to an animal.
Other indicators we could be suspicious of would be misuse of the characters for to do or dry (there’s another less common definition I’m forgetting, but suffice to say that all three use different characters in traditional and were simplified down to one character). We could also look for a lack of feminine you when when “you” is clearly a woman, which is not in style in areas that use simplified Chinese characters.
You have nested a footnote within a footnote in the article you have nested within another article. You are a crazy person and I love you.
I’d like to say that the recent release of Maitetsu: Pure Station for Playstation 4 and Nintendo Switch is a great candidate for the next ”this be bad translation”, while some people might say that Maitetsu is ”readable”, there are many, many errors throughout the game, most errors are ”minor”, but they are very frequent, the many errors are the main reason why I can’t recommend Maitetsu: Pure Station to anyone, some examples are ”Not that I expected anything less from the from the current head of the Migita family– the chief brewer of Kuma Shochu.”; ”Makura-nee watches me happily as I hands begin moving with renewed purpose”; ”I open up it’s tiny hand. In its palm, a dull golden sheen gleams–”; ”W-Well, if you hadn’t dodge my slap, I…” and many, many more errors. Oh, and those errors are from early parts of the game, you don’t have to play the game a lot to find them…
Mary Skelter 2 is another example of a Switch game with a bad translation, more or less…
Thanks! I’ll check ’em out 😀
Perhaps the ‘clavicle’ bit was referring to a door/car key? Clavicle is a (somewhat archaic) synonym for key. And I’m guessing the bare-shoulder dress is a strapless dress of some kind.
Hopefully this information helps a bit.
Hmm, possibly. The game makes me kind of uncomfortable though, so I’m not keen to search through and find the Chinese. For what it’s worth, clavicle in Chinese is 鎖骨, literally “lock bone,” like the kind of lock you need a key for. That first character never appears as part of key though. Bad translations sometimes end up in weird places, though, as this website often shows.
While the english is certainly terrible, I found myself extremely distracted by the uncanny photoshop jobs on a number of their faces. Ack!