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PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 12:04 am 
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I found an easy way to romanize Japanese hiragana&katakana (convert them to Latin letters) in NES games: just edit the CHR-ROM and replace each kana with the letters representing its sound. Probably someone has discovered this before?

How I chose to represent kana in Latin alphabet:

  • lowercase letters = hiragana
  • uppercase letters = katakana
  • bold uppercase letters = Latin (e.g. "HP") and digits
  • subscript ya/yu/yo = small ya/yu/yo
  • caron diacritic (like "v"; "voiced" in International Phonetic Alphabet) = dakuten
  • ring diacritic ("voiceless" in International Phonetic Alphabet) = handakuten (I could've probably chosen a better symbol)
  • IPA symbol for glottal stop (like "?" without dot) = sokuon (small tsu)

(Note: I don't actually speak Japanese.)

Edit: trying to change the subject line


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File comment: romanized Dragon Quest
dragonquest-shots.png
dragonquest-shots.png [ 9.05 KiB | Viewed 557 times ]
File comment: unedited Dragon Quest
dragonquest-orig.png
dragonquest-orig.png [ 5.58 KiB | Viewed 557 times ]
File comment: part of Dragon Quest's CHR-ROM before and after the romanization
dragonquest-chr.png
dragonquest-chr.png [ 1.43 KiB | Viewed 557 times ]
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 6:40 am 
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Yes, that is a common (?) starting point in translating a game for people who are slow kana readers. Or just a good idea for making your own Japanese games more legible to yourself through ROM hacks.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 7:46 am 
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Probably shouldn't mess with the dakutens.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2018 9:39 am 
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Sorry to disapoint, but this is almost entierely useless, because learning kana is indeed relatively easy, on the other hand learning japanaese isn't. So if your goal is to understand some words in a japanese game, learning kana and some japanese words will do the trick, no need to edit the CHR-ROM. On the other hand, having romanized japanese is just as incomprehensible as having genuine japanese on screen, so purpose-less.

Also there's the problem with dakuten and handakuten, which affects the sound but are placed above the text typically.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2018 11:31 am 
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^^^


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2018 11:34 am 
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It might make it easier for some people to google things, but...yeah. I can read Japanese (somewhat) and find this almost totally unreadable.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2018 12:06 pm 
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Bregalad wrote:
Sorry to disapoint, but this is almost entierely useless, because learning kana is indeed relatively easy, on the other hand learning japanaese isn't. So if your goal is to understand some words in a japanese game, learning kana and some japanese words will do the trick, no need to edit the CHR-ROM. On the other hand, having romanized japanese is just as incomprehensible as having genuine japanese on screen, so purpose-less.
I agree (although having romanized Japanese is even more incomprehensible I think; actual Japanese text will still be more readable) (I don't know Japanese so well either)

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 4:25 pm 
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As Chris Covell said it might be a way if you are a slow kana reader, but in most cases it's better to practice kana until you can read it at a decent speed. If you are a translator you should definitely be at the level that you can at least read kana at a normal speed before translating a game. If you are studying Japanese or even just kana you should do away with romaji as quickly as possible (after learning it which is very easy).

Also there are no romanization system that translates 100% losslessly from kana, and there are many things that must be manually changed, so this would have a limited use.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:30 pm 
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Even kana isn't lossless, as it discards which syllable has the accent.

In English, accent-switching generally distinguishes parts of speech for the same word. But in Japanese, some unrelated words sound the same except for where the accent falls. Japanese is more like Spanish, where an accent distinguishes esta (meaning "this") from está (meaning "is, stays"). But kana have no accent marks, making some words harder to distinguish from context than when kanji are used.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 7:35 am 
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Other things that makes kana not 100% phonetic are that the same character sometimes can have different sounds depending on where it's found. For example ん changes in front of certain consonants (in the same way as in Swedish and probably other languages).

I'd say although Japanese has meaning changing accents, only marginally so like many European languages (not to the point of Chinese anyway). Accents also plays a role in distinguishing parts of speech in Japanese and other things like signalizing a question (by going up by the end like in many many other languages). The words that only differ by meaning and accent are usually different enough for you to tell the difference by context alone.
Chinese however manages to do all this with accents while still being very heavy on accents with meaning changing qualities. It's like rings on water or waves that crosses, both can coexist they just amplify each other when they cross.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 9:33 am 
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Pokun wrote:
Other things that makes kana not 100% phonetic are that the same character sometimes can have different sounds depending on where it's found. For example ん changes in front of certain consonants (in the same way as in Swedish and probably other languages).

But at least the Japanese nasal coda /N/, written as ん or ン, is 100 percent phonemic. This means one can reliably predict the realization of ん from the following phoneme: a nasal in the same place as the following consonant, or a postnasalization (similar to the hook) before a continuant, much as with Ę (tailed E) in Polish. In both English and Japanese, /h/ does the same thing: [h] in most positions but [ç] (palatal fricative) before /i/. Contrast the /h/ sound in ハ or "hard" with that in ヒ or "he".

Though kana represents the nasal coda phonemically, this isn't the case for stress placement. But I admit that stress placement in Japanese isn't quite as overloaded as Mandarin would be if written in Pinyin without tone diacritics.

Now back to the topic: I imagine that a transliteration patch would be more helpful in kanji-heavy games than in games using all kana. That's why the short-lived translation patch for RPG Maker for Super Famicom turned two characters into "MA" and "KER".


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 10:29 am 
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Your (Note: I don't actually speak Japanese.) explains a lot. I never thought someone would find a way to make japanese even more unreadable than just using kana only (without kanji) :lol:

A much better project would be substitution of Kanji with furigana but that's probably a bit more complex than just substituting symbols in character rom. (and how many NES games uses 16x16 or greater fonts to be able to render kanji in the first place anyway?) That could be a nice way to aid people in language learning through old japanese games.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 12:25 am 
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Quote:
I imagine that a transliteration patch would be more helpful in kanji-heavy games than in games using all kana.

I think that would be useless as well. Non-japanese speakers won't understand regardless whether the text is in kanju, kana or romaji. Those who don't speak but got interested in the language will recognize a couple of kanjis (the most frequent ones) and will be able to read kana so they will be able to read a couple of words, chance of them being recognized in romaji format is at best the same, if not even lower because sometimes I can remember a kanji and what it means but have no idea how it's pronounced.

Quote:
how many NES games uses 16x16 or greater fonts to be able to render kanji in the first place anyway

I think Faxanadu is probably the only one - other games have pre-rendered kanjis for specific situations too, typically on title screens. Contra also comes to mind but it only uses Kanjis in the intro that was added for the japanese version and which is not really part of the game.


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