Another artbook, another journey into a beautiful game world. This time, we were tasked with showing people the world of Ghost of Tsushima in Ukrainian. And we at SBT Localization are so proud that our partners at MAL’OPUS chose us to translate this artbook.
Heavy warriors and bohaturs
Because of language and cultural specifics, it was by no means an easy ride. Here is a glimpse of what we had to deal with.
It was so exciting to contextualize Mongol-related things, because in Ukrainian, we actually have quite a bit of Mongolian loan words (e.g., heavy warrior = bohatur). All we had to do was to find the equivalents in historical books.
Roman Hardashuk, translator
Clumsy sentences and tautologies
Also, there were some cases of ‘we know all the words, but it doesn’t make the sentence any clearer’. Many sentences sounded clumsy and awkward, and it took us a lot of effort to make them flow really nicely in Ukrainian. Besides, the repetitions that were quite natural for English did translate well into Ukrainian, so it was paraphrasing all the way.
Sadly, in Ukraine, the debate still goes on in the Japanese studies as to which Cyrillization system is the best. Having consulted the publisher, we decided to go with the one proposed by Oleksandr Kovalenko in 2012. And it should have been all downhill from there, but there was one problem: the source language was English, not Japanese. Therefore, we ended up going back to the Romanization tables to find the original Japanese hieroglyph and then looked it up in the Cyrillization table to choose an appropriate syllable in Ukrainian. What an inspiring thing to do, isn’t it?
Some names were fun to adapt, too. Take, Khotun Khan, for instance, how do you convey it in Ukrainian: Хотун or, perhaps, Хоцун? In English, it sounds more like ‘catoon’, since there is no such sound as [x] and it’s rendered there as [к] (kh). Besides, it’s a Mongol name, not an English one, so it’s Mongol phonetics that we had to rely on. Therefore, we ended up with ‘Хотун’.
Although we had no particular difficulties with translating the Ghost of Tsushima artbook, some terms took a little more thinking to convey properly. For one, this was the case with the types of enemies the protagonist encounters.
As usual for games, the enemies were classified from the weakest to the strongest ones. Basic infantry presents no problems, but what do you do with the likes of heavy warrior? ‘Важковаговик’ (as in heavyweight) would be not ideal, especially considering that they wear hardly any armour (and heavy one in particular)—even less than basic infantry. This is where the ‘богатир’ (‘bohatur’, which is, in fact, a Mongol loan word in Ukrainian) came in handy. Alright! And then we encountered… the brute, a more massive variety of the heavy warrior. After some debate, we decided to go with ‘бугай’, a word for ‘a big man‘ in Ukrainian.
Overall, we had a blast working with terminology—it was an excellent opportunity to dive deep into the culture and find out more about the Japanese way of life, traditions, and history.
Spirit of Tsushima
The Ghost of Tsushima devs strived not only for riveting story and visuals but also for the genuine Japanese atmosphere. You can feel it in the artbook through the exquisite beauty of the flawless illustrations, clarity and coherence of the materials, and a gentle touch on the characters’ personal tragedies. And then add some sketches of various characters and locations, and you have the perfect mix.
Finally, the artbook features a fabulous narration of how Ghost of Tsushima came to be. How do you convey your vision of the events to the team so that it’s integrated into the game in the best possible way? One word: storyboards! The artbook includes a whole section of these.
The book not that big in terms of volume but shows enough of everything to spark interest in the game if you are yet to buy it. Also, it will be a nice bonus to those who have already started chopping invaders left and right on their PlayStation 4 shouting ‘Banzai!’ at the top of their lungs.
So make sure to order the artbook, thoroughly enjoy it, and support Ukrainian translators for Ukrainian localizations to make their way into your favourite games.
We are so much grateful to MAL’OPUS for this wonderful project and wish them even more faithful readers and exciting projects galore!
Other artbooks we translated:
Ukrainization of the universe marches on!