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The Puntheon of Groan: your favourite puns, references and other plays-on-words

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(I had a quick look to see if this topic was done before and couldn't find anything— apologies if it has, and I just missed it.)

The modern Dragon Quest translations are well-known for their abundance of wordplay: some good, some bad, some good in a bad way, but always memorable.  What are some of your favourites, the ones that really made you tip your hat… or groan?

Monster names are very good for this. My all-time favourite, as you might guess, is Sham hatwitch. It's one of the rarer ones that's at once completely appropriate, genuinely clever, very funny (spoonerisms are always a laugh) and completely natural sounding. My runner-up is Mars rover, for similar reasons: a triple-pun that suits the monster to a tee. A tyrannical robot named Tinpot Dictator isn't quite as witty, but it's memorable nonetheless for how fitting it is.

Another, smaller one that's stuck in my mind is how Debora's weapons are named "akillics", with the description that they "nail an enemy twice in one turn". Not so much for the puns themselves, but that they're there to begin with… that the translators manage to squeeze puns into everything, everywhere. Sometimes it boggles the mind these weren't originally written in English.

As far as writing does goes, I was amazed to see all the dialogue in Jipang (DQ3) and Hotto (DQ11) being done in in haiku. I can only imagine how much hair pulling that decision lead to, but the translators did an incredible job of making the dialogue comprehensible within that framework. DQ11's mermaids talking in rhyme is also shockingly well-done; I didn't even realize there was anything going on at first, that's how natural and un-forced it is.

What about you?

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I read the puns and get the puns, but honestly they don’t really get me to groan or laugh or facepalm or whatever. It’s just part of the translation.

Only one I legit groaned and laughed at was the Brollygagger enemy in DQ11. When the name clicked it got me.

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I read far too fast and proper nouns I don't pronounce in my head often. So stuff like Phnom Nonh doesn't click until people point it out.

My favorite is the towns of Zere & it's rocky copy: Zere Rocks in DQIX.

Sham Hatwitch might be my favorite one from DQXI as it does what you mention, hits on so many levels. But I often joke with my own kids or my students doing letter substitution or beginning sound substitutions, so it really goes with that.

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Anyone who’s familiar with me knows I’m a fan of Jack of Alltrades/Master of Nu’un.

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-Sham Hatwitch (As we discussed--one of my favorites)

-Robbin' Ood (Hate this one with a passion)

-Natural Born Quiller (Funny as hell)

-Buffalo Wing (Ugh...LOL!)

-Slime Eewnicorn (Yikes...)

-Nottagen (I prefer Loomin but this is OK)

-Cruelcumber (Ugh...)

-Barksman (LOL!...Ugh...)

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I can only think of these few from DQ11 off the top of my head, likely because they're the freshest in my mind. But these made me eye roll, groan, and/or face palm.

Phnom-non

Nou-wat

Dora-in-Grey

And my personal favorite (which I called on stream :P ) is Snorri ending the incantation to seal away Krystalinda with "Hexpialidosious!".

Edited by hawkeye77o4

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As a DQ player, I honestly hate puns being crammed in everywhere. DQ9 can burn in a fire until someone comes along and re-localizes it.

 

As someone who has actually helped to (unofficially) localize a few DQ games... I totally understand that sometimes the urge to pun is just too great to overcome.

 

It's hard to reconcile these two view points as a single person. I guess I do enjoy some good wordplay. But puns are the scraps at the bottom of the barrel. Only when they sound natural to say and hear in context and also strictly adhere to the meaning of the original source text while also being clever should they be used.

That said, I love it when these games use alliteration or rhyming to add flavor.

Honestly, I'd love to see Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket) write an English DQ script. I feel his style would be incredibly on-brand for the series while also not getting cheesy. But I don't even know if he plays video games.

 

Most of the puns that are particularly memorable to me have already been mentioned, but here's one that hasn't: Count Uptaten of Uptaten Towers. This is one I actually like, as it wasn't obvious. It wasn't until my third playthrough of V DS that I even knew it was a pun, and it had to be pointed out by someone else. Until then, I had always thought to pronounce Uptaten as "up-tay-ten".

 

One other thing I feel like mentioning, while not really a pun, is the city of Al Balad (pardon my spelling, it's foreign and I don't have an example in front of me) in DQ7. This was called Dune in the PS1 version. While I prefer the name Dune (to me it just sounds cooler, maybe it's nostalgia), I have to give credit where credit is due: the new localization gets this one more accurate! In Japanese, Dune and Dune Palace are just known as the "Desert City" and "Desert Palace", with no actual names. Well, "Al Balad" actually just means "The City" in (I might have the next part wrong) Arabic. (Dune was probably chosen in the original because it was only 4 letters, making it fit in the Return menu without resizing.)

 

I actually love the incorporation of other languages and dialects in the modern DQ localizations, but feel it could be done better. For example, in DQ4's Straithbale, the citizens say "bairns" rather than "children". I think it's neat when different parts of the world use varied language. However, while having matching accents for these dialects is great where the games are voiced, I don't need to read "Hoo aboot this", it's just distracting and sometimes hard to understand. Just spell things right for God's sake. On a similar note, if a character slips into their localized "native" language, don't repeat it in English every time. If a character says, "Lo siento" it's redundant for them to immediately say "I'm sorry". I get this is there for people who may not know the foreign expression, but either choose to naturally weave in these "native" interjections so that they can easily be learned through context, or COMMIT TO TRANSLATING TO THE ACTUAL TARGET LANGUAGE. Either way works great, but together they sound dumb, and a little patronizing.

 

Wow, that was kind of a ramble, but I guess that's tradition here on the Den.

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I for one, just love the French accent in VIII and XI. 

Be it the bartenders or everybody from l'académie des médailles or whatever is its name. It just cracks me up. 

As for the puns, since I'm a French player I can't really tell. I don't know the English ones, and the French ones I know and love must be stranger to you all. But I do 'laugh' (maybe too strong of a word, but you get the idea) quite often. 

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As a DQ player, I honestly hate puns being crammed in everywhere. DQ9 can burn in a fire until someone comes along and re-localizes it.
 
As someone who has actually helped to (unofficially) localize a few DQ games... I totally understand that sometimes the urge to pun is just too great to overcome.
 
It's hard to reconcile these two view points as a single person. I guess I do enjoy some good wordplay. But puns are the scraps at the bottom of the barrel. Only when they sound natural to say and hear in context and also strictly adhere to the meaning of the original source text while also being clever should they be used.
That said, I love it when these games use alliteration or rhyming to add flavor.
Honestly, I'd love to see Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket) write an English DQ script. I feel his style would be incredibly on-brand for the series while also not getting cheesy. But I don't even know if he plays video games.
 
Most of the puns that are particularly memorable to me have already been mentioned, but here's one that hasn't: Count Uptaten of Uptaten Towers. This is one I actually like, as it wasn't obvious. It wasn't until my third playthrough of V DS that I even knew it was a pun, and it had to be pointed out by someone else. Until then, I had always thought to pronounce Uptaten as "up-tay-ten".
 
One other thing I feel like mentioning, while not really a pun, is the city of Al Balad (pardon my spelling, it's foreign and I don't have an example in front of me) in DQ7. This was called Dune in the PS1 version. While I prefer the name Dune (to me it just sounds cooler, maybe it's nostalgia), I have to give credit where credit is due: the new localization gets this one more accurate! In Japanese, Dune and Dune Palace are just known as the "Desert City" and "Desert Palace", with no actual names. Well, "Al Balad" actually just means "The City" in (I might have the next part wrong) Arabic. (Dune was probably chosen in the original because it was only 4 letters, making it fit in the Return menu without resizing.)
 
I actually love the incorporation of other languages and dialects in the modern DQ localizations, but feel it could be done better. For example, in DQ4's Straithbale, the citizens say "bairns" rather than "children". I think it's neat when different parts of the world use varied language. However, while having matching accents for these dialects is great where the games are voiced, I don't need to read "Hoo aboot this", it's just distracting and sometimes hard to understand. Just spell things right for God's sake. On a similar note, if a character slips into their localized "native" language, don't repeat it in English every time. If a character says, "Lo siento" it's redundant for them to immediately say "I'm sorry". I get this is there for people who may not know the foreign expression, but either choose to naturally weave in these "native" interjections so that they can easily be learned through context, or COMMIT TO TRANSLATING TO THE ACTUAL TARGET LANGUAGE. Either way works great, but together they sound dumb, and a little patronizing.
 
Wow, that was kind of a ramble, but I guess that's tradition here on the Den.
Now I want a Lemony Snicket DQ game.

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