Exclamations, participles and other atrocities

Since I have passed all of my exams, I can finally go back to working on Vintage Year translation. Menu text is done, so I won’t delve into that (not like I could write anything interesting about such phrases as „NEW GAME” or „Are you sure you want to quit? anyway”) and go straight for something much more curious.

One of the most serious obstacles I encountered are, to name a few, various participles, verbless sentences and exclamations. Translation, that is the final target language, should seem as natural as it is possible, and yet keep the original meaning of the sentence (there are obviously some exceptions to that rule). Due to numerous differencies between English and Polish language, we need to use different stylistic devices, what can be incredibly frustrating and confounding.

 

The first example I will be talking about is a word that I was puzzled by for some time, i.e. „Forage!„. Let’s analyse its meaning, see what does it refer to in game and how we could possible translate it.


Forage

  • food for horses or cattle; fodder (also: the seeking or obtaining of such food)
  • searching for provisions of any kind;
  • to wander or go in search of provisions;
  • to seek; rummage; hunt
  • a raid (also: to make a raid).

 

In Vintage Year we can loot wooden crates for weapons or search through wine racks for Corks (a sort of currency). So the first thing that came to my mind were the 3rd and the 4th meaning. I discussed it with dev and to my surprise, this exclamation is used in a slightly different situation. Namely, there is a character called „Bear” who can collect ammo from dead bodies. I believe it should be considered as the 2nd meaning or eventually the 1st one. So… how could we translate it?

My first thought was to use a noun describing an action, e.g. „Robbery” (pol. „Grabież„). I dissmissed the idea quickly since it does not focus enough on activity. What else can be used? Verbal nouns („Plundering„, „Raiding„) sound horrible in Polish, very stiff and out of context, out of place, hence we need to drop them. How about participles then? Polish language has got more participles than English, therefore it is difficult for me to provide a proper example. I believe that the best instance would be „Plundered” (pol. „Splądrowany„) or „Robbed” (pol. „Okradziony„). This version sounds good, though it concentrates too strong on the subject; we want to pay attention to an act of action. What is left for us then?

Apart from such phrases like „It’s raining” or „It’s getting dark”, I don’t recall use of impersonal verbs in English language. In Polish, however, you can create an impersonal form of almost all verbs (I believe they only have to be transitive ones). This allows us to translate „Forage!” in a way that will underline the activity itself, slightly mentioning effects.

I was also thinking of using some describing persons exclamation, i.e. „Thief!” or „Raider!”, however I quickly came to conlcusion that it carries strong emotional charge. A player might get abashed, just like the game tried to punish him for his actions. We don’t want that to happen, hence such interpretation cannot be used in that case.

 
 

The second phrase I want to analyse is „Cannibalize!” that is related to one of few playable characters.


Cannibalize

  • to remove parts from a machine or vehicle for use in the repair of another similar unit;
  • to deprive of vital elements or resources, such as personnel or equipment for use elsewhere;
  • to draw on as a major source from other writers or works
  • to reduce the sales of a product by introducing another similar product;
  • to practice cannibalism.

 
As you can see, there are many various meanings (To be honest, I was quite surprised about some of them.) but the only one we take interest in is obviously the last. Namely, one of charaters („The Canibal”) has a special skill that gives him 10% chance to replenish health after killing an enemy. Of course we cannot translate it literally (Trust me, such verb would look terrible in Polish.), therefore we again need to think of possible solutions. And these are that time a few.

Because what can we do with that unfortunate „Cannibalize”?. We could try out impersonal verbs once more, although it doesn’t sound as good as before. Adjective participles sound somewhat better but it’s still not the best solution. In my opinion, either nouns similar to „Cannibalism!” (or something like Flesh-eating!”) or nouns describing people (that we rejected the last time) should do the trick. Apparently, I need to think about it a little longer.

 
 
The last word for today is „Revive!” that is being shown each time our character gets resurrected by a special item from the inventory. This expression derives from Latin (just like most of English vocaboluary does) and has many meanings that all have that element of renovation, restoration in them.


Revive

  • to restore to life or consciousness;
  • to put on or show (an old play or motion picture) again;
  • to make operative or valid again;
  • to bring back into notice, use, or currency
  • to reanimate or cheer (the spirit,  a person etc.);
  • to recover from financial depression.

 
The meaning we are looking for is obviously the first one, as it refers to our character being brought back to life after being killed due to our incompetence. Anyway, I see two possible ways of translating this phrase. The first one is using verbal noun („Resurrection!”; pol. „Wskrzeszenie!”). However, it concentrates solely on the action, ignoring its effect on the character. This is not what we meant, hence we have to use an alternative. The second solution is using once again an impersonal verb. This time though, it will underline effects of an activity on our character.


Phew! That’s all for today, folks! We analysed three seemingly easy to translate phrases and then gave Polish equivalents, remembering to consider all possibilities first. Thank you very much for your patience in reading this entry! If you have got any ideas or suggestions, feel free to leave me feedback. I’ll be more than glad!

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