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Old 2012-01-12, 02:11   Link #1
NeoChan
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English Grammar in Anime

Being my first thread, I wish it to anime related with a value to it's viewers' reception.

It's not that early while I was watching animes that I notice how bad if not good the dialogues of certain character's when they try to speak English. Ok, you may say that I'm mean but, how about I give an example.

A foreigner (they say he is) speaks English, but the way he speaks is not like a foreigner but a Japan blonde trying to speak English, not only is the grammer is not good but the fluency is not attained. (But I praised few animes that shows characters fluent in English.)

Please I don't mean to speak ill on how Japanese speaks English, my concern is if they want to portrait a foreigner at least give that foreigner fluency in speaking English to sound realistic.
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Old 2012-01-12, 02:16   Link #2
Klashikari
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That's more like a general issue with Japanese, since there are extremely few individuals who are proficient with foreign languages, which is worse if you try finding Seiyuu with English Skills (well, there are few outstanding example such like Asakawa Yuu and Sawashiro Miyuki).

The problem lies how Japanese language is completely different in term of phonetics, which is why Japanese in general are unable to pronunce correctly few letters, such like R/L, V/B, D/Z.
Therefore, expecting proficient english speaking japanese voice actor isn't exactly possible, let alone for such "minor" point (after all, anime are destined to the japanese public, therefore, spoken english being broken or not is the least of their worry).
And even if you find someone who might do the trick, the scripter may not be on par with that voice actor skill and give them broken english lines (Nanoha fans will probably recognize what I'm talking about).

I don't think it is any worse than other language dub who can't pronunce japanese name/word even correctly.
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Old 2012-01-12, 02:35   Link #3
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I often notice that but we have our views. For me, I can say for now is that....

Japanese is Japanese, English is English.

Well, there are times I tend to check my ear because of some grammar check that needs to be done.. hehehe

Last edited by NoemiChan; 2012-01-12 at 05:36.
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Old 2012-01-12, 03:22   Link #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NeoChan View Post
A foreigner (they say he is) speaks English, but the way he speaks is not like a foreigner but a Japan blonde trying to speak English, not only is the grammer is not good but the fluency is not attained. (But I praised few animes that shows characters fluent in English.)

Please I don't mean to speak ill on how Japanese speaks English, my concern is if they want to portrait a foreigner at least give that foreigner fluency in speaking English to sound realistic.
I would expect the anime industry to fix this problem as soon as American media fixes its problem of using "un-Chinese" accents for characters who are supposed to be from China/Hong Kong/Taiwan/any other part of the Chinese diaspora.

In other words, it's not an anime-specific problem. Neither is it limited to just English. So, I don't think it's a "problem". It's just a limitation that fans and producers have to live with.
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Old 2012-01-12, 03:50   Link #5
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Honestly, even Japanese Americans have trouble speaking fluently here (and I pretty much fall in that category, lol.) I would say that certain sounds are hard to pronounce due to sound waves/throat patterns...ok, whatever, I really don't know.
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Old 2012-01-12, 04:49   Link #6
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Originally Posted by genjichan View Post
I often notice that but we have our views. For me, I can say for now is that....

Japanese is Japanese, English is English. Well, their are times I tend to check my ear because of some grammar check to be done.. hehehe
I think you did not really read his post (which has a somewhat misleading OP title), or I must be misunderstanding your post.
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Old 2012-01-12, 05:31   Link #7
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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
I would expect the anime industry to fix this problem as soon as American media fixes its problem of using "un-Chinese" accents for characters who are supposed to be from China/Hong Kong/Taiwan/any other part of the Chinese diaspora.
Oh, speaking Chinese w/ an English accent. Quite funny.

Actually the grammar isn't really a problem though, the way the speak is puts a smile on my face I guess
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Old 2012-01-12, 05:35   Link #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by larethian View Post
I think you did not really read his post (which has a somewhat misleading OP title), or I must be misunderstanding your post.
What I meant was you can't fully expect a Japanese to be fluent in English the way he speaks Japanese. The same goes to an American who speaks Japanese.
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Old 2012-01-12, 05:58   Link #9
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Originally Posted by NeoChan View Post
Oh, speaking Chinese w/ an English accent. Quite funny.

Actually the grammar isn't really a problem though, the way the speak is puts a smile on my face I guess
It's not the "English accent" per se, but the fact that a lot of American TV and video-game productions use accents for Chinese characters that do not match where they are supposed to be from. A Hong Kong person speaking Mandarin would sound very different from a Beijing person speaking Mandarin, for example. But to most Western gamers unfamiliar with the nuances, it would just sound like same gobbledegook.

In other words, the target audience (that is, the uninformed viewer) doesn't care so long as the "foreign" characters speak a language that is supposed to be their "native" tongue.

Hence the Engrish in anime.
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Old 2012-01-12, 07:08   Link #10
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In a way, the problem is made worse by people in power, who lacks English proficiency, seeking some English sounding phrase and pronunciation that conforms the most to the expectation of general Japanese public. I have heard of a case where a company was making English brochures, and they had 2 person translating the same text so they could compare, and mix them if needed. One person was someone who stayed in Japan for most of her life except for her graduate studies in USA. Another person was someone who was born in Japan, but lived in USA for most of his life, getting graduate degrees from USA, and came back to Japan about 2 years before this job. Needless to say, the 2nd person's translation was of higher quality, displaying high level of English composition skill expected of someone with graduate degrees in English, while the 1st person's translation was slightly more vulgar and of lower quality, having some sentences and paragraph that reminded me of 3rd grader writing, while occasionally having fancy sounding word that wasn't used properly. Yet it is the 1st person's translation that were used for vast majority of the brochure, because their superior thought it sounded more genuine and something that will impress higher powers of the company more. Since the English brochure was made more for the pride than actual promotion, what was important was whether it can impress Japanese people with its use of latest fashionable English idioms and phrases. Such an incident is very common not just in Japan, but throughout East Asia, thus real high quality English writing often gets suppressed for fashionable unauthentic low-brow English that will impress Japanese. This is true also for pronunciation, as they will deliberately seek someone with 'expected' accents and peculiarity instead of someone who has more natural accents and smoother pronunciation that is similar to real English Native speaker.
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Old 2012-01-12, 12:29   Link #11
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Originally Posted by wontaek View Post
Such an incident is very common not just in Japan, but throughout East Asia, thus real high quality English writing often gets suppressed for fashionable unauthentic low-brow English that will impress Japanese. This is true also for pronunciation, as they will deliberately seek someone with 'expected' accents and peculiarity instead of someone who has more natural accents and smoother pronunciation that is similar to real English Native speaker.
I don't know about other countries, but that doesn't happen in my country. Here, correct English is highly appreciated. Even more so in business world. Our people are more impressed with those who speak English like natives than those with local accents. Still, Indonesian do use some incorrect/simplified form of English words among our own people for communication purpose. One example would be instead of saying ‘charger’ (for cellphones), Indonesian often say it as ‘chass’. Much more ‘friendlier’ to our tongues.
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Old 2012-01-12, 19:08   Link #12
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Originally Posted by Obelisk ze Tormentor View Post
I don't know about other countries, but that doesn't happen in my country. Here, correct English is highly appreciated. Even more so in business world. Our people are more impressed with those who speak English like natives than those with local accents. Still, Indonesian do use some incorrect/simplified form of English words among our own people for communication purpose. One example would be instead of saying ‘charger’ (for cellphones), Indonesian often say it as ‘chass’. Much more ‘friendlier’ to our tongues.
Of course it is different in Indonesia. When I said East Asia, what I really meant to say was NorthEast Asia, except I am not sure I can lump Taiwan into Northeast Asia. The tendency I mentioned is primarily for Japan and Korea, and somewhat in China and Taiwan as well, except for Hong Kong for very obvious reason. I expect the Correct High class English to be appreciated well in Southeast Asia, where there is greater diversity of languages within a single country compared to Korea and Japan.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_Indonesia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japan#Languages

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korea#Language
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Old 2012-01-12, 20:18   Link #13
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Heh....
Spoiler for errr...:

Laugh all you want, a ton of people in East Asia think that is proper English. What's also sad is that this kind of Engrish is normal at all of the English education programs there too...*sigh.*

(The first image is also awkward in some other ways too, but eh I won't get into that one...)
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Old 2012-01-12, 20:50   Link #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NeoChan View Post
Being my first thread, I wish it to anime related with a value to it's viewers' reception.

It's not that early while I was watching animes that I notice how bad if not good the dialogues of certain character's when they try to speak English. Ok, you may say that I'm mean but, how about I give an example.

A foreigner (they say he is) speaks English, but the way he speaks is not like a foreigner but a Japan blonde trying to speak English, not only is the grammer is not good but the fluency is not attained. (But I praised few animes that shows characters fluent in English.)

Please I don't mean to speak ill on how Japanese speaks English, my concern is if they want to portrait a foreigner at least give that foreigner fluency in speaking English to sound realistic.
Well, to be quite honest, the language styles are extremely different. So I can't see it happening unless they specifically hire Japanese voice actors/tresses who are adapt at speaking English as well as Japanese.

A script with a few English words on it isn't going to lead to perfect grammar.
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Old 2012-01-12, 21:14   Link #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Obelisk ze Tormentor View Post
I don't know about other countries, but that doesn't happen in my country. Here, correct English is highly appreciated. Even more so in business world. Our people are more impressed with those who speak English like natives than those with local accents. Still, Indonesian do use some incorrect/simplified form of English words among our own people for communication purpose. One example would be instead of saying ‘charger’ (for cellphones), Indonesian often say it as ‘chass’. Much more ‘friendlier’ to our tongues.
Same goes to other Southeast Asian countries like the Philippines where at times it's easier to talk English than the Native language. Basically, English is our second language....
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Old 2012-01-13, 05:15   Link #16
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Originally Posted by wontaek View Post
Of course it is different in Indonesia. When I said East Asia, what I really meant to say was NorthEast Asia, ...
Yeah, sorry about that. I thought you meant the entire eastern Asia countries.

And talk about English pronunciation and intonation in anime, have you seen Evangelion 2.0 where some characters speak English? I mean, Wow, even a movie of that caliber can’t bring its seiyuus to speak English in a correct manner . Even anime like Ghost Hunt (in some episodes) has an English-speaking character that spoke well, and that's just a series. It's hilarious really. I don't know what those Jap execs think.
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Old 2012-01-13, 05:45   Link #17
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Originally Posted by Imperial Patricia View Post

A script with a few English words on it isn't going to lead to perfect grammar.
It depends probably on the seiyuus skill in speaking from a hard tone Japanese to a slang English.
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Old 2012-01-13, 10:01   Link #18
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Personally, they are not quite as bad as it could be. Some of the early pirated Hong Kong anime DVD, now those were bad.

But really, as a Chinese (form Taiwan) who moved here since I was 12, I still have days where I simply can't pronounce certain sounds correctly. One day it's fine, another day I sounded like a Martian even after 15+ years living in the States.

I mean I still have problem with l- sound and r- sounds because the Taiwan version of Mandrain emphasizes the rolling tongue sounds and it doesn't help I live in Boston that have similar problem. I can still remember the hell that was Spanish class, with its rolling r sound.

Grammer-wise the biggest problem is the tenses. Most Eastern Asiain Countries (strictly speaking so not counting South East) has time modifying words. As such, the tense has always being a problem for me. I can fix them fine in tests, but everything is off once I start writing, unless I proofread like a madman.

But really, a lot of the grammar mistakes, if you translates them back, makes perfect sense in their native languages but it just look hilarious to English speakers.

I still remember that years ago in my part time job in a store. It was one of those day where I sound like a duck, and a old grumpy woman come in. The first thing she said was, "Jesus Christ can't anyone speak English, I demand the manger on duty." I told her I am the manger on duty, and she goes "God damn, how can anyone understand what you are saying" and say it toward my co-workers and they responded "We can understand him fine" And she goes, "It's no wonder you can only work in this job" and my co-worker just says "he is in college and and have 4.0 GPA, I'm sure he'll do fine" And she just left defeat.

Point of story, speaking and writing different language is freakin' hard, reading, however, is completely different.
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Old 2012-01-13, 10:06   Link #19
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A lot of us here can't really complain, since we ourselves make a lot of mistakes in grammar.
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Old 2012-01-13, 13:02   Link #20
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Originally Posted by Detective-san View Post
A lot of us here can't really complain, since we ourselves make a lot of mistakes in grammar.
In the realm of fellow amateur, of course we can’t. But since anime industry is a professional world, we can complain about the justification of using incorrect forms of an international language (English) in their products ^_^.
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