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Why is it written like this?

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Why is it written like this?

Postby TJack » Fri 03.26.2010 4:43 pm

I've been playing ゼルダの伝説:時のオカリナto learn some new words and see how far I'm progressing in my studies, and I came across a sign that threw me off:

Image

My first question is, why is あります broken between hiragana and katakana? I just can't think of any reason on why the programmers would do that.

Secondly, why is 魚 in katakana also? Is it implying the fish is "foreign" or it was caught somewhere else? And it's not just this word I've seen in katakana. For instance, a lot of times I see pronouns written in katakana like オレ、アナタ ,オマエ, コイツ, etc. Is there a reason for this?

And one last question, I've seen omae written as お前、おまえ、and オマエ. Is how it's written show different levels of distance between the speaker? The Great Deku tree used お前 (meaning a certain formality between the two?) 、some random people(I think, I can't remember exactly who used this) used おまえ and Darunia used オマエ after I cleared the second cavern (Like a certain distance between the two, but not as big? He also said we are "キョウダイ")

Any help will be appreciated. :)
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Re: Why is it written like this?

Postby Hyperworm » Fri 03.26.2010 8:27 pm

Haven't played the Japanese version of Ocarina of Time so I'm working just on the info provided.

I think the answer to pretty much all of these is individualization/characterization through text. Characters have been given their own individual "speech" patterns. Putting the マス of verbs in katakana is probably a Zora speech quirk, though it's not obvious to me how (if at all) it would translate to a change in vocal speech style. Similarly サカナ (except animal names are often written in all katakana even in regular Japanese, though not usually イヌ or サカナ...)

Katakana used in significant excess generally indicates a foreign way of speaking that doesn't follow normal Japanese pitch accent or stress, which is probably how it's used for the Gorons. I too see pronouns written in katakana a lot in manga and I'm not too sure what connotation that has, but キョウダイ in katakana is much more unusual and definitely speech-style related.

Other speech quirks that can only be realized in text might include the replacement of long vowels with ー in hiragana, all-hiragana text, excessive use of kanji (居る, 此処...) etc, with predictable connotations (playful immaturity, lack of language ability, old-fashionedness/tendency to act upper-class).

お前 and おまえ are both fairly common in regular text so it'd be impossible to tell whether that's significant without seeing how he speaks. If he uses kanji excessively or wherever not inappropriate, お前 over おまえ would be in line with that decision, but お前 could equally well be the arbitrary choice of an ordinary speech pattern.
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Re: Why is it written like this?

Postby TJack » Fri 03.26.2010 10:41 pm

Ok thanks, I think I have an idea what it's like now.

Hyperworm wrote:Other speech quirks that can only be realized in text might include the replacement of long vowels with ー in hiragana, all-hiragana text, excessive use of kanji (居る, 此処...) etc, with predictable connotations (playful immaturity, lack of language ability, old-fashionedness/tendency to act upper-class).


I've seen words replaced with ー also (like one word said was おとーさん from one of the farm girls) and was curious at the time why it was like that. I'm guessing that if I read more manga and other materials, the nuances will become clearer?

Hyperworm wrote:お前 and おまえ are both fairly common in regular text so it'd be impossible to tell whether that's significant without seeing how he speaks. If he uses kanji excessively or wherever not inappropriate, お前 over おまえ would be in line with that decision, but お前 could equally well be the arbitrary choice of an ordinary speech pattern.


I don't think there was a lot of difference in the number of kanji between the Deku tree and the other folks, so it's probably as you said, just an arbitrary choice.

Also, I have one last quick question, why is it that some animal words are written in katakana? When you brought it up about サカナ, I remembered that I saw other animal words in katakana also, like ネコ, カエル, and イノシシ.

Thanks for all your help!
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Re: Why is it written like this?

Postby Ben Bullock » Sun 03.28.2010 12:40 am

TJack wrote:Also, I have one last quick question, why is it that some animal words are written in katakana? When you brought it up about サカナ, I remembered that I saw other animal words in katakana also, like ネコ, カエル, and イノシシ.

There's a page about this on jeKai:

http://www.jekai.org/entries/aa/00/nn/aa00nn52.htm
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Re: Why is it written like this?

Postby writebook » Mon 03.29.2010 2:08 am

Here's my opinion as a Japanese person:

When you see katakana used for a word that is usually written in hiragana, it feel like that word is "severed from its origins."

An example is writing ケータイ instead of 携帯.
For example, the word 携帯(けいたい、cell phone) is originally a technical term. To exaggerate how the word feels to me in kanji, it feels something like "portable interpersonal communication device," in other words something technical. (Although this is an exaggeration to demonstrate what I mean, 携帯 is already a shortened form, and an everyday word too)
When it's written as ケータイ, first of all I would imagine a high school girl saying it, and secondly I would imagine her saying it like an ordinary everyday word (such as "celly" for cell phone) in a way totally oblivious to the technical origins of the word. (not that it's hard to know where the word comes from or anything, but it has become detached from its technical origins through everyday use)

When katakana is used for Japanese words in a foreigner's speech, it does feel like it is expressing the speech quirks of that person, like the person above mentioned.

Besides that, the katakana can also make me feel that although the person knows how the word sounds, and knows how the word is used, s/he doesn't understand the underlying feeling beneath the word that native speakers and people who have mastered the language share.

Have you ever spoken to a foreigner and got the feeling that s/he understands how a word is used well enough, and can pronounce it correctly, but you don't share the underlying "feeling" of the word? For example, one English book I read showed the author talking to a person from Jamaica. It transcribed the word "you" as "yoo," and that gave the word a totally different feel. (it also showed how his accent enriched his language and wasn't making fun of the accent) Another example might be (this one is an imaginary one), if an American soldier is speaking to an Iraqi person, and the Iraqi person says something like "Awesome!" which he heard some soldiers use, but it doesn't feel the same. (I'm sorry if a lot of Iraqi people actually say "Awesome!" with the same feeling as an American would. I just finished watching Hurt Locker...)

Or, let's say there's a military cartoon about WWII. A Western advisor might say something like "They come from the land of samurai and harakiri. They will not stop even if they know the bridge is bombed." If that person is depicted in the cartoon as someone who has some knowledge about Japan but not enough to understand how the words feel, the words samurai and harakiri would definitely be written in Katakana. It would show that the word is being used detached from the Japanese people's context for the word.

Finally, the マス in katakana is probably meant as a pun. マス is a type of fish, a Zolan in Zelda is a half-fish, half-man guy I think. It is like some snake-man character in a story always speaking like "Yesssssssss. I sssssee" Or some cat salesman saying "We have FUR-niture for sale. Would you like to PURRRR-chase?"
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Re: Why is it written like this?

Postby Hyperworm » Mon 03.29.2010 9:25 am

Arrrrgh. @ マス :lol:

Great post, writebook. :D
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Re: Why is it written like this?

Postby AJBryant » Mon 03.29.2010 6:46 pm

writebook wrote:Finally, the マス in katakana is probably meant as a pun. マス is a type of fish, a Zolan in Zelda is a half-fish, half-man guy I think. It is like some snake-man character in a story always speaking like "Yesssssssss. I sssssee" Or some cat salesman saying "We have FUR-niture for sale. Would you like to PURRRR-chase?"


This is bloody brilliant. Nice post!!!
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Re: Why is it written like this?

Postby TJack » Mon 03.29.2010 8:23 pm

Thanks for your in depth reply, writebook! I usually don't speak to the minor characters in the game, but I'm going to go back and see if I can feel how the different ways of writing gives a subtle, different meaning.
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