From Retro CDN
The Retro family of wikis are predominantly written in English, however situations arise where text written in other languages is required. This mainly concerns reference material, such as interviews, press releases, videos and magazines.
Reference material should be stored in the language it was written in, however a supplementary English translation to assist with wiki editing is desirable.
For video games, Japanese translations are often abundant, however Japanese does not translate directly into English. Features of the Japanese language are often not replicated in latin scripts, and translation algorithms (such as Google Translate) can produce varying results, which may not be strictly accurate.
For Japanese then, it is usually better not to attempt a full translation into English (particularly for names of things), but instead to use a middle language such as Romanji. The Retro wikis use a dilect of this language, Roumanji for reasons that are explained below.
Why this matters
The Famicom game that became Super Mario Bros. 2 in the Western world is known as "夢工場ドキドキパニック" in Japan.
The literal translation of this phrase, according to Google translate, is "Dream Factory Pounding Panic". However, this translation is only partially correct and could be misleading as a result. We use romanji as a means of better representing what is being said:
- "夢工場" translates to Yumekōjō or Yume Kōjō.
- "ドキドキ" translates to Dokidoki or Doki Doki.
- "パニック" translates to Panikku, a phonetic representation of the English word, Panic.
With appropriate spacing and obvious phonetic translation, this produces a more accurate title, Yume Kōjō Doki Doki Panic.
In this example, translating "夢工場" to "Dream Factory" could be correct, but is not guaranteed. 夢 (Yume) can transate to "dream" or "dreaming", while "工場" (Kōjō) could translate to "factory", "mill", "plant" or "workshop", as the Japanese language uses one word for what would be multiple use cases in English. "Dreaming Workshop" is therefore just as valid as "Dream Factory".
"ドキドキ", or "Doki Doki" is not a word at all. It is onomatopoeia for a throbbing or pounding sound ("dok-iii dok-iii") - something which is not a feature of the English language and so cannot be translated.
As an extra step, the Retro wikis acknowledge that the character "ō" is not used in English, and so the dialect "roumanji" is used. In this case, this converts "ō" to "ou", producing the final result, Yume Koujou Doki Doki Panic.
Roumanji is used both to assist editors with standard English QWERTY keyboards and to make sorting more straightfoward. The Mediawiki software considers the character ō to come after z alphabetically, so Sonic the Hedgehog designer "Naoto Ōshima" (大島 直人), would, if sorted by the surname, be placed at the bottom of a list rather than between N and P.