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Help with this simple translation of a title?

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R3belD0gg
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Help with this simple translation of a title?

Postby R3belD0gg » December 1st, 2013 5:22 am

I'm still pretty new to studying Japanese and this seems like it should be simple, but I must be missing something either about 二 or the particle の. I am starting to play a video game called 二ノ国. (Ni No Kuni.) I understand that this basically means Another World. I think I kinda see that in an abstract sense, basing it on how I understand the direct translation, which would be 二 = Two, の = possessive particle and 国 = country or land (or in this case, a different world.)

Can someone please break down the logic behind how this means "another world?" Abstractly I see it as "Second Land" but I'm not sure if that's correct. Most people have translated it as "Another World." Is this a set phrase or can it be applied in other ways?

Thanks for any help.

BTW, for any gamers I've only just started the game but it's pretty good so far and you can choose to leave the audio in the original Japanese, which is why I am playing it (though my PS4 makes it difficult!!!)

R3belD0gg
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Re: Help with this simple translation of a title?

Postby R3belD0gg » December 1st, 2013 7:52 am

I just thought of another one where the particle の threw me off a little... There is a song called 昔々の今日の僕 (Mukashi Mukashi no Kyou no Boku) which was translated as "Once upon a Me." I know 昔々 is like "Once upon a time..." but logically I'm having trouble understanding the structure here... "I belong to a time long ago before today?" I know I've got a huge amount still to learn and hopefully this will be clear later, but it'd be nice if someone could clear this one up, too.

ありがとうございます! 頑張ってね!

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andycarmenjapanese8100
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Re: Help with this simple translation of a title?

Postby andycarmenjapanese8100 » December 1st, 2013 8:10 am

R3belD0gg wrote:I'm still pretty new to studying Japanese and this seems like it should be simple, but I must be missing something either about 二 or the particle の. I am starting to play a video game called 二ノ国. (Ni No Kuni.) I understand that this basically means Another World. I think I kinda see that in an abstract sense, basing it on how I understand the direct translation, which would be 二 = Two, の = possessive particle and 国 = country or land (or in this case, a different world.)

Can someone please break down the logic behind how this means "another world?" Abstractly I see it as "Second Land" but I'm not sure if that's correct. Most people have translated it as "Another World." Is this a set phrase or can it be applied in other ways?

Thanks for any help.

BTW, for any gamers I've only just started the game but it's pretty good so far and you can choose to leave the audio in the original Japanese, which is why I am playing it (though my PS4 makes it difficult!!!)


I'm getting that game for Christmas. Can't wait. No spoilers please!

As you already know, "ni" means two, "no" is possessive and "kuni" is "country." Literally, it's "Second Country." Perhaps the Japanese definition of "country" is more flexible than ours but there's nothing in the title that translates to "Another World."

On a semi-related note - The way games and films are translated is down to the distributor in the given area. In this case, Namco Bandai. They did a good job but it's often a sloppy affair. Last month I watched a horror film called Hitori Kakurenbo which translates to "Hide And Seek Alone." For some absurd reason, the English subtitles translated this as "Creepy Hide And Seek." "Hitori" means "one person" or "alone" and "kakurenbo" means "hide and seek." There is no way that "hitori" translates to "creepy." None.

"Hitori Kakurenbo" or "Hide And Seek Alone" is a fantastic, spooky title and they turned it into "Creepy Hide And Seek" which sounds like something an eight year old child would play.

R3belD0gg wrote:I just thought of another one where the particle の threw me off a little... There is a song called 昔々の今日の僕 (Mukashi Mukashi no Kyou no Boku) which was translated as "Once upon a Me." I know 昔々 is like "Once upon a time..." but logically I'm having trouble understanding the structure here... "I belong to a time long ago before today?" I know I've got a huge amount still to learn and hopefully this will be clear later, but it'd be nice if someone could clear this one up, too.

ありがとうございます! 頑張ってね!


Mukashi mukashi = Once upon a time
No = Possessive
Kyou = Today
Boku = Me

It's abstract and contradictory so somewhat difficult to pin down. "Mukashi mukashi" would indicate something that happened a long time ago, or a legendary tale, while "kyou" suggests a recent event. If I was translating it literally, it's not very poetic but... "Once Upon A Time, Today's Me."

The reason it's probably not clear to you is because it isn't clear in Japanese. It's designed to be fantastic.

R3belD0gg
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Re: Help with this simple translation of a title?

Postby R3belD0gg » December 1st, 2013 11:34 am

Thanks, Andy. I'm not far enough into the game to really give many spoilers, but I will say for the 12ish bucks I paid for it at GameStop I'm sure it's going to be one of my better last gen (gasp! Still hard to say!) purchases. Such a pretty game, though I wish the characters were a a little more detailed. The landscapes are great, though, and the hand-drawn look to the characters adds charm. I haven't played a game of this style in many years. The way battles start makes me think back to the days of my NES and "Dragon Warrior" which I LOVED as a little kid. I can still hear that music.

Anyway, "Second Country" or "Second Land" is more of what I thought the literal translation would be, I think the in-game save file even says something about "Another World." I guess it's like what you said about artistic license in translation/interpretation. I wasn't sure if 二ノ国 was a phrase in Japanese beyond just a game title.

I understand just enough Japanese to know what you mean about the translation, though. I've caught a few movies not meshing right up with the subtitles, but I figure they are doing what they think will play best to western audiences.

As for 昔々の今日の僕、I guess it's the first の that threw me the most. I've tried translating lots of JPop lyrics (don't judge me, lol) and other things and run in to a TON of stuff that, even with a dictionary and other resources I can't make sense of. Still in the beginner series, season 1. Biting off more than I can chew trying to translate that stuff but I need to find something to keep me motivated. So difficult to do with... life!

Anyway, thanks for the explanation. I think I actually understood it better than I thought, but I thought I was wrong. :)

R3belD0gg
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Re: Help with this simple translation of a title?

Postby R3belD0gg » December 1st, 2013 11:41 am

Based on your translation of 昔々の今日の僕, could it be interpreted as something like, "This is a fairy tale-type story about who I am now?" So the ”昔々” takes possession of "Today's Me" or "Who I am today?" If I'm close then I think I see what you mean. I was being too literal.

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Re: Help with this simple translation of a title?

Postby community.japanese » December 10th, 2013 9:45 pm

R3belD0gg-san, Andy-san,
kon'nichiwa :D
That's a great insight, Andy-san! Thank you!

I've never heard of the game 二の国 and, like Andy-san pointed out, translation for
games and films can be very different.
If I explain strictly literelly, 二の国 means "the country of (number) 2". It just doesn't really make sense to me.
The word 国 can literally mean "country", but it can also mean (as extended meaning) area, world and so on.
It just remids me of the word 二次元 (= two dimensions) or 二次元空間 (= flatland).
We use 1, 2, and 3 often to "dimensions" (I believe this part is just same in English too). So those numbers
can also play some role in 二の国...what do you reckon?
If 一の国 is "this world", 二の国 could be "another world". Who knows, there could be 三の国 meaning "after death" :lol: :mrgreen:

As I don't know anything about this game's background, I just got a image/association that
this is a continuation of somewhere 一の国 :mrgreen: Did I guess right?

It's also true that we often use and hear 一の部屋、二の部屋 in a weird building of ninja, for example :lol:

Livining with imagination.... :lol: by;
Natsuko (奈津子),
Team JapanesePod101.com

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Re: Help with this simple translation of a title?

Postby community.japanese » December 10th, 2013 9:51 pm

Ooops, I was totally in 二の国 (i.e. imaginary world, interpreted by me :lol: ) and forgot to mention
to 昔々の今日のぼく :mrgreen:

The moment I saw this line, I knew it was a song title...
If I make it any easier, we use "two years ago today" like expression in English, right?
It works very similar in Japanese too. Two years ago today is 二年前の今日 where 二年前 is two years ago,
then の to "link" two nouns and 今日 means today.
So, Japanese works more like "today of two years ago".
Now, 昔々 is "long long time ago" (hence, "once apon a time", like Andy-san wrote).
Instead of two years ago, your line had this "long long time ago": 昔々の今日
Then, "of me" (の僕)...."Me in long long time ago today"?

Hope this helps!

Natsuko (奈津子),
Team JapanesePod101.com

R3belD0gg
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Re: Help with this simple translation of a title?

Postby R3belD0gg » December 14th, 2013 2:57 pm

奈津子さん、ありがとうございました。

Your explanation of 昔々の今日の僕 makes a lot of sense. I think I see it much more clearly now.

As for 二ノ国, I think (like with the song title above), it's meant to be a bit fantastic. "The Country of (number) 2" or "Second Land" was where my first mind went when I started considering it. I tend to over think myself into confusion with these things, though... :oops:

Unfortunately, with long work days, I'm not as far in to the game as I'd like (only about 28 hours lol) but I see the "Second World" (二の次元, second dimension?) very much as you interpreted. "Imaginary World" as it is full of interesting, imaginative characters. I'm loving the game so far, though I was iffy on the combat mechanics before I tried it (Never was a ポケモン fan, and this is similar) and if they do a 三ノ国 I would buy it eagerly! Even if it was in the world of the dead :) Though, there is no 一ノ国, but in the game there are two worlds that you travel between (the magical, fun world and the boring old town you start in.)

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Re: Help with this simple translation of a title?

Postby community.japanese » December 19th, 2013 10:11 pm

R3belD0gg さん、
どういたしまして! :D
Glad I could help!

It's sometimes difficult to spend enough time for hobbies simply because you've got too much work...
I sometimes escape to 4次元 OR 5次元 の世界 :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

Natsuko (奈津子),
Team JapanesePod101.com


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