Why are some of the Japanese names in dubs being spoken wrong?



  • I'm just putting it simply as that. I've watched enough of the subs and dubs in comparison to notice it.
    I just want to know why because its becoming something bigger in the last few years. Its not just funimation so don't think I'm singling anyone out. I just never seemed to have found any answers yet on why this is happening when the industry should be big enough by now to prevent these kinds of mistakes.



  • Depends on what show your talking about. And Pronunciation of certain names & letters will naturally sound different in English & Japanese at times.



  • It depends on what you mean when you say names are spoken wrong. Typically, it's either to change which syllable gets the emphasis, or to say the letters in the name that adheres to the rules of English pronunciation

    You'd have to give some names as examples before I could reasonably tell you why they were modified, but one off the top of my head is Erza from Fairy Tail. The 'ER' sound in English doesn't make an 'air' sound like it does in Japanese (aside from the fictional Eragon, which is the only exception I can think of), so it makes sense to give it the common 'err' sound

    For syllable emphasis, as far as I can tell there can be a number of reasons, all of which are specialized for the situation. Koneko's name in Highschool DxD, for example, was changed from ko-NE-ko to KO-ne-ko, probably to mask the somewhat obvious cat pun that didn't apply in English. For Medaka Box, I suspect they altered it from ME-da-ka to me-DA-ka so that the lip flaps would line up a bit better when VAs would say 'Kurokami Medaka' in English - not to mention, saying her full name with proper Japanese pronunciation probably caused the VAs saying her name to trail off at the end

    The above is all just speculation on my part, but having watched a ton of shows to spot the differences between sub and dub, I tend to believe that these are intentional and not errors, seeing as the pronunciation is always uniform throughout a series



  • Ok for example

    In Rosario Vampire

    Yukari is being pronounced "Yuka-ri" when its supposed to be "Yu-kari"

    Or Kurumu, she is being called "Kuru-mu" when its actually "Ku-rumu" You see what I mean? The first syllable is being combined and changing the emphasis. Its happened in other animes too.



  • Truthfully I don't hear anything different for either of those girls. In both languages it sounds like YU-ka-ri and KU-ru-mu to me, with no change to syllable emphasis



  • Well its supposed to be more like Yu-kar-I, the name sounds less fluid like Yuka-ri,



  • @Riles:

    You'd have to give some names as examples before I could reasonably tell you why they were modified, but one off the top of my head is Erza from Fairy Tail. The 'ER' sound in English doesn't make an 'air' sound like it does in Japanese (aside from the fictional Eragon, which is the only exception I can think of), so it makes sense to give it the common 'err' sound

    I dissaree with this. My buddies name is Erik. But the "er" isn't an "errrr" but "air". SO I have to disaree that Erza's name is bein siad wrong in Fairy Tail.
    But on a whole everyone does speak/pronounce things difrently.



  • One of the sound directors specifically brought this subject up in one of the Michiko & Hatchin commentaries.

    They take it on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes they'll alter how the name is pronounced so that it flows with the rest of the dub better, or if they think that it would make more sense being pronounced differently given a certain situation. In M&H, for instance, they purposefully pronounced Atsuko's name as "At-SOO-ko" instead of "At-sko" because they felt that it would fit in more appropriately with the Latin/Brazilian setting.

    Other times, it just sounds better. Like how Nagasumi's name in My Bride is a Mermaid is technically supposed to be pronounced "Na-GA-soo-mi", but it just sounds SOOOO much cuter how Alexis Tipton says "Na-ga-SOO-mi".

    That's at least FUNimation's reason for occasionally changing up the name pronunciations. In Sentai's case, I think they just hand their actors a script and let them say it however the hell they want to. It's funny, because some Sentai actors, like Chris Patton, are very particular about pronouncing the names correctly, whereas others simply don't care. So you get a situation like the Kids on the Slope dub where Kaoru calls himself "Cow-roo" (the proper way), and all the other characters call him "Ko-roo". The end result is very sloppy and uneven.

    Really, at the end of the day, it's six of one, half a dozen of the other. Best not to let it bother you too much. If it's any consolation, the Japanese creators DO have to sign off on the dub when it's finished, so any and all changes made, including name pronunciations, are technically allowed by them.



  • It's up to the director as far as I know. Then he/she just makes sure that the pronunciation is consistent. It also I think depends on how Japanese a show is as to whether or not the names are pronounced like they are in Japanese or like they would be in English. For example, watch/listen to the Basilisk dub. All of the Japanese names and terms are pronounced in the Japanese way for the most part. Though, in Basilisk, they use the dono honorific in that dub, which sounds super weird to me when all other words are in English. It's like I finally got my cake, but it ended up being too rich.

    I'm a sub purist and also find the difference in pronunciation a bit annoying. Believe me, that Inu Yasha dub just killed me when it first started airing. "Ka-GO-me". :sick: In the end, I think, "If I'm watching the dub and wishing for it to be like the Japanese version, then why don't I just watch the Japanese version?" Then I switch the language, and all is well. Sure, it means that every other fan is going to pronounce the name as "Ka-GO-me" at every convention I go to and it will grate just a tiny bit each time, but whatever.



  • Yeah that said I've heard the dub to Sekirei when it came out and a majority of the names were spoken wrong and that is very Japanese.

    I watched the subs long before the release of the dub on the funimation site so I definitely have a huge point of reference on this show.

    Like Minato, his name is being said like Mina-to But I know its supposed to be more like "Mee-knot-o" The dub made his name sound too feminine. I think the only name that wasn't wrong was Miya's name, then again given how dangerous she is I know they wouldn't mess with her. That and her name is very simple

    And Musubi its Musu-bi when its supposed to be "Moo-sue-bee"
    I swear I have not once tried to watch Sekirei ever since I saw the dub, That includes the subs, I was too put off to ever want to see it again.



  • as far as i can remember, only Minato, Musubi, and Yukari's names were pronounced noticeably differently. maybe Karasuba, but truthfully I'm entirely sure how it's supposed to be pronounced



  • It's not just Japanese names that can get confusing. In Strike Witches, the dub pronounces Eila's name "EYE-la" where as it's "A-la" in Japanese. And then there's "mar-SAY" for Marseille in the English dub, compared to "mar-SAY-ul" in Japanese. I also prefer subs most of the time, especially when watching my favorite anime, so I also lean towards the original version, even if it's not accurate.



  • @7jaws7:

    It's not just Japanese names that can get confusing. In Strike Witches, the dub pronounces Eila's name "EYE-la" where as it's "A-la" in Japanese. And then there's "mar-SAY" for Marseille in the English dub, compared to "mar-SAY-ul" in Japanese. I also prefer subs most of the time, especially when watching my favorite anime, so I also lean towards the original version, even if it's not accurate.

    Well, that's just language barriers and accents at work. Besides honorifics (and a couple rare words), Japanese characters end in vowel sounds, so when translating someone's name from the Roman alphabet to Japanese (namely, Romaji), certain characters have to be used that don't necessarily fit with the original sound of the name

    If I can use Fairy Tail as an example again, in that Lucy's name is technically pronounced RU-shii in Japanese, or Gray's name and Jellal's name are pronounced Gu-REI and Je-RA-ru, respectively. It's not that they're incorrect translations from English to Japanese, it's just that there simply isn't a pronounceable character for the 'lal' sound or a single syllable sound for Gray in Japanese, so they have to compensate when writing the characters. In terms of Marseille's name, speaking just mar-SAY in Japanese would, I think, only write the name out as Marsei, so adding in the ul (or ur) character defines the rest of her name

    For Eila, I've never heard that name before, and when I looked it up, the website gave me two conflicting definitions, heh. I can't really explain that one, other than that Eila may be seen as a deformation of Ayla, which is a more common name and an easier one to speak in English

    I should clarify that I don't have any formal study in Japanese character and pronunciation, this is what what I've picked up on from listening to the language, so I could be full of balderdash



  • @Sophie:

    It's up to the director as far as I know. Then he/she just makes sure that the pronunciation is consistent. It also I think depends on how Japanese a show is as to whether or not the names are pronounced like they are in Japanese or like they would be in English. For example, watch/listen to the Basilisk dub. All of the Japanese names and terms are pronounced in the Japanese way for the most part. Though, in Basilisk, they use the dono honorific in that dub, which sounds super weird to me when all other words are in English. It's like I finally got my cake, but it ended up being too rich.

    I'm a sub purist and also find the difference in pronunciation a bit annoying. Believe me, that Inu Yasha dub just killed me when it first started airing. "Ka-GO-me". :sick: In the end, I think, "If I'm watching the dub and wishing for it to be like the Japanese version, then why don't I just watch the Japanese version?" Then I switch the language, and all is well. Sure, it means that every other fan is going to pronounce the name as "Ka-GO-me" at every convention I go to and it will grate just a tiny bit each time, but whatever.

    …are you sure that you're a sub-purist? ;)

    I too find the use of honorifics in dubs to be weird as it makes for a sloppy translation and, even in the shows set in Japan, it does just sound weird (Especially if the honorifics aren't used consistently). Even Bang/Zoom, the dub studio most obsessed with making its dubs adhere to the Japanese as closely as possible, left Samurai Champloo "un-honorific'd".
    @SpacemanHardy:

    In Sentai's case, I think they just hand their actors a script and let them say it however the hell they want to.

    Which was hilarious in AKB0048. Also somewhat hilarious was that dub's extremely inconsistent use of honorifics. Luckily the show was supposed to be a comedy but I'm pretty sure that was some unintentional humor.



  • Honorifics are always weird to me too, though I understand why they're kept sometimes. They just don't sound natural in English, and if it's considered necessary to keep the honorifics, I much prefer the use of Mr. or Ms. over -san, -senpai, and -sensei. You can just drop -chan and -kun entirely since those are usually used informally between friends anyway and there's no comparable honorific parallel in English

    Another thing, I wish dubbing studios would get together and finally decide just how they want to pronounce -chan, since its 'A' sound varies entirely from director to director



  • @TabbyGold:

    Yeah that said I've heard the dub to Sekirei when it came out and a majority of the names were spoken wrong and that is very Japanese.

    But was it Japanese enough? I've only seen episode 1, but as far as I can tell, the only thing that makes Sekirei Japanese is the fact that it takes place in Japan. Yes, Musubi wears a take on traditional clothing and the characters have Japanese names, but really, you could set the story in another country and get basically the same thing (at least based on the single episode that I have seen. Please don't lynch me if you're a Sekirei fan. You are far too many in number.).

    Sometimes there are other things happening that help determine how things are pronounced besides how Japanese a show is - see Spacemanhardy's excellent post.



  • I re-listened to Minato's and Musubi's pronunciations in English and Japanese

    English is MEEN-uh-toe and MOOS-uh-bee

    Japanese is MEE-na-toe and MOO-soo-bee

    Both of which roll off the tongue a little easier with the English translation, for an English speaker such as myself. I suspect that when doing lines, it takes a lot of effort for VAs to stay on the correct pace of the lip flaps, so slightly changing the pronunciation to flow more naturally is better than VAs properly enunciating the names, or even getting tripped up or stuttering on the pronunciation. Honestly I don't find slight alterations like that a big deal, and I wouldn't ordinarily notice it if not for specifically listening for it. It's the bigger ones, like changing the syllable emphasis, that is easily noticeable to me

    The most interesting part of Sekirei's dub is the decision to change Tsukiumi's old Japanese language to Shakespearean English. I thought that was a GREAT decision in localization


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