Japanese translation problems

I have played several episodes of campaigns, and enjoyed the gameplay very much, with a pretty high standard of localization. However, when it comes to names of units and technologies, the quality suddenly and disproportionately deteriorates. My educated guess is that the poor translators did their best, but they were not given enough references and context for short strings, so I think this is really a problem of localization management and lack of test playing.

Below is the list of wrong or correctable terms in Japanese I found (all confirmed on the tech tree screen). I actually reported many of them at the closed beta stage, but they were sadly not updated, including simple typos.

(Legend: [English]: [Current Japanese] “[what Japanese literally means]” → [Suggested Japanese])

  • Professional Scouts: プロの斥候 “expert/skilled scouts” → 職業斥候
    the word sounds like “professional” in the sense of “a professional job” rather than “by profession”.

  • Double broadax: ダブル ブロードアックス “(transliteration of English)” → 両刃まさかり
    it is a transliteration, so not technically wrong, but unnecessary. The English broadax has multiple translations in Japanese, so I guess translator were not given what it was used for.

  • Specialized Pick: 取捨選択 “sifting through” → 採掘用つるはし, 専用つるはし
    guess picked the wrong “pick”

  • Hulk: 廃船 “wreckage, retired ship” → ハルク船
    the most unfortunate naming in the game IMO :rofl:

  • Navigator Lookout: 航海監視 “navigation monitoring/surveillance” → (航海)見張り
    a fixed terminology in Japanese

  • Extra Ballista: 余剰弩砲 “excess ballista” → 追加弩砲

  • Palisade: 杭柵 “picket fence” → , 矢来
    I remember I have mentioned this several times on each remake, but the word is for fence that surrounds your garden. I think the old AOE2 translation 柵 suffices.

  • Fortify Outpost: 前哨地の強化 “outpost strengthening” → 前哨地の要塞化
    here “fortify” is not a figure of speech but in its literal meaning. btw outpost was 前哨 in AOE2, but the current translation is more correct in Japanese

  • Springald Emplacement/Cannon Emplacement: スプリンガルド防衛陣地/大砲陣地 “springald/cannon base” → スプリンガルド(弩砲)配備( or 砲座)/大砲配備( or 砲座)
    the translation of springald will be discussed below

  • Council Hall: 評議会議事堂 “board meeting house” → 参事会堂
    there is a fixed term. who translated this was apparently not able to know if the “council” was a Jedi Council or a medieval city council.

  • Balanced Projectile: 平衡投射物 “equilibrium projected(?)” → 矢(弾)の釣り合い, 飛翔体の釣り合い (many options)
    the term for arrow balancing is 釣り合い; 投射物 is indeed a translation of “projectile” but I don’t see it much in the military context than 飛翔体, but for plain Japanese you may just say “arrow or bullet”.

  • Keep: 天守 “keep (tower of castle)” → ,
    as far as what I see in the game, this is an independent defense facility rather than a wing of castle, right?

  • Tithe Barns: 十分の一税保管所 “(Biblical) tithe storage” → 納所
    this building is not limited for Christian civs only but the current Japanese is. We should use general concept for such a thing in every religion.

  • Springald: スプリンガルド “(transliteration of English)” → 弩砲
    current Japanese term suggest a specific type of arbalest-like artillery in narrow sense, but it doesn’t look so in the game. I think translators may have thought to distinguish it from “ballista” in a tech, but I don’t think it worth.

  • Conterweight Trebuchet: 改良型遠投投石機 “enhanced trebuchet” → 遠投投石機
    not sure where “enhanced” prefix came from, as it is not contrasted to anything with a similar name

  • Greased Axles: 滑らかな車軸 “smooth axles” → 車軸の潤滑
    another one that should be literal “grease”

  • Adjustable Crossbars: 調子可能クロスバー “melody-able crossbar” → 可動横木/調整可能な横木
    first, this is a typo supposed to be 調整可能, but besides that the translation is still clumsy

  • Siege Works: 攻囲兵器工房 “siege workshop” → 攻囲兵器職人, 攻囲兵器製造(技術) (many options)
    yes, it’s confused with the very building name…

  • Imperial Official: 帝国の役人 “(literal translation of English)” → 官僚, 官人, 文官 (many options)
    there are specific words for the Chinese bureaucrats, you can choose anything but the current one

  • Palace Guard: 宮廷警護兵 “(literal translation of English)” → 禁軍(兵/部隊), 近衛兵
    the specific term for the Chinese one

  • Extra Hammocks: 余剰ハンモック “excess hammock” → 追加ハンモック

  • Handcannon Slits: 手持ち砲狭間 “handheld cannon slits” → 銃眼
    there is a specialized term

  • Imperial Academy: 帝国アカデミー “(literal translation of English)” → 翰林院
    the specific term for the Chinese one; at least you can’t use アカデミー because it means the Academy in Greek tradition

  • Barbican of the Sun: 太陽の楼門 “(literal translation of English)” → ???甕城/譙楼/城楼 (not sure)
    I’m not sure where it comes from but certainly not 楼門, which is a name for Japanese decorated gate(house). The Chinese structure usually translated as “barbican” is 甕城, but as what it appears on the Mongolian campaign, it could also be 譙楼(?)

  • Fire Lancer: 火炎槍騎兵 “(literal translation of English)” → 火槍騎兵
    the specific term for the Chinese one

  • Astronomical Clocktower: 天文時計塔 “(literal translation of English)” → 水運儀象台
    if you mean the very ones created in the Song dynasty

  • Extra Materials: 余剰資材 “excess materials” → 備蓄資材

  • Great Wall Gatehouse: 万里の長城の守衛所 “(literal translation of English)” → 長城関, (万里の)長城の関所
    this is the correct naming according to their function IMO

  • Spirit Way: 魂の道 “spiritual path(?)” → 皇帝陵, 皇帝廟
    it means the road leads to the imperial tombs, right? (the exact name for it is 神道, but it’s the homograph of Shinto in Japanese…)

  • Pagoda: パゴダ “(transliteration)” → 仏塔
    we don’t usually call East Asian pagoda “pagoda”

  • Enclave of the Emperor: 皇帝の包領 “emperor’s enclaved territory” → 内城, 故宮?? (not sure)
    I can imagine nothing meaningful from the current Japanese name (or perhaps “royal demesne”?) The in-game model apparently looks like the Forbidden City though…

  • Arbalétrier: アーバトリエ “Arba-trier” (typo) → アーバレトリエ

  • Enlistment Incentives: 従軍の動機 “motive for enlistment” → 入隊奨励(金)

  • Notre Dame: ノートルダム “(transliteration)” → ノートルダム大聖堂
    I recommend explicitly adding “cathedral” in Japanese

  • Prelate: 高位聖職者 “high priest” → 司教
    not generally higher rank monks but “prelate” in HRE context right?

  • Slate and Stone Construction: スレートと石材による建築 “(literal translation of English)” → スレート張り石造建築, スレート葺き石造建築
    the Japanese name is not technically wrong, yet nor meaningful

  • Inspired Warriors: 鼓舞された戦士 “(literal translation of English)” → 戦士の鼓舞
    a bad usage of passive in Japanese

  • Yam Network: ヤム網 “yam :sweet_potato: network” → ジャムチ制

  • Abbey of the Trinity: 三位一体修道院 “(literal translation of English)” → 至聖三者(修道院/僧院)
    Japanese uses different terminology sets for Catholicism and Orthodoxy. The current name uses the Catholic one.

  • Improved Blessing: 祝福 (改) “blessing (updated)” → 祝福強化
    btw the HRE “benediction” is also translated as 祝福, which could be changed to 聖別 for clearer distinction…

  • Blessing Duration: 祝福の効果時間 “blessing effect duration (time)” → 祝福持続

  • Wandering Town: 流浪 “roaming” → 走る町 (not sure)
    I guess this name is an epithet for rams, isn’t it?

  • All-Seeing Eye: 千里眼 “clairvoyance” → 全能の目

  • Swiftness: 高速化 “making faster” → 敏捷, 迅速
    it sounds funny to use the word seriously for human movement

  • Zeal: 熱意 “eagerness” → 熱狂, 情熱
    this word doesn’t particularly sound religious

  • Baghlah, Xebec: バグラー, ジーベックバグラー船, ジーベック船
    not wrong as such but inconsistent with namings of other ships suffixed with 船.

  • Madrasa: 学び舎 “learning house” → マドラサ, 神学校
    not wrong as such but too confusing with 学びの家 “house of learning”.

  • Improved Processing: 加工 (改) “processing (updated)” → 加工技術改良, 高度加工技術 (many options)


When a technology update is ongoing, the description shows 生産中… which means “producing…” as if it’s going to produce a unit.

For some reason, an ideographic period appears in every place a decimal point is expected (of course should be an English period).

The example shows “7。9 GB VRAM” instead of “7.9 GB VRAM”.

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I noticed playing in English it states “producing” as well. I was thinking it should be something like “researching”.

Great, so it’s not a “translation” bug…
The game makes me download a few gigas of contents each time I change the language so that I didn’t really test across languages.

I just realized that this post should be opened under the “report a bug” category…

Keep in mind the building in the game is not actually a pagoda 仏塔, but a Chinese pavilion 亭. The two terms used to be conflated in English, with any non-livable structure with the signature curved eaves was called a pagoda, whether it was a tower, a pavillion, or something else.

The “Barbican of the Sun” is based on 正陽門 - Wikipedia, though from a period after the barbican had been removed and only the gates remained (hence why the in-game building is not a barbican, despite the name).

This is more of a nitpick. Ideally keeps would stay keeps (キープ) and tenshu stay tenshu (especially if Japanese make it into the game). In normal parlance, the two terms get conflated so the translation isn’t wrong. But they are merely comparable concepts, not one and the same. Much like dragons and long/ryu are both “dragons” but represent two fairly different things.

They shouldn’t have translations to other languages if they can’t get it right. I’m sure japanese people have english in school now too, so what’s the point? If I could get aoe in my language I’d still play it in english because its better to have it in same language as the rest of the community. It’s easier to talk about this way

Oh that’s… you’re right :joy:

It’ll make much more sense but are you sure that specific one? I’m not good at recognizing building for sure…

So “keep” only means the castle tower in English too? If that’s the case, I’m okay for it.

You just need to rotate the the in-game view a little to focus on the staircase (when you build the landmark, it’s facing away from the player and not visible). You should be able to compare the two:

And back when it was still a barbican and not a free-standing gate (the staircase and decorations were added by a German architect who oversaw the destruction of the walls):

The towers on top are different, but the base is defintely that of the arrow tower in Beijing. Down to the decorations on the sides where walls used to be.

As I said, it is a bit more complicated. It usually does, but it can be a free-standing tower with no additional fortifications. It’s not really the same as tenshu, which are exclusively built inside existing castle grounds, but the two are similar enough that common translations merge the terms into one.

I remember AOE2 sold exceptionally well in Japan as an RTS. Part of the reason is because it was localized exceptionally well at that time. Everyone knows Overwatch because it came with a Japanese translation from the beginning; nobody knows Starcraft, because it didn’t.

I even wondered if it’s an extremely compressed figure of this rather than the arrow tower only. But either way, it looks strange when no real building sat on top turns the narrow side to entrances.

If so, you can’t merge because they’re different in Japanese. Japanese has one word for both crocodiles and alligators, and when you translate it into English, you can’t argue that “crocodile” is correct even when you see an alligator because sometimes “crocodile” includes “alligator”. It just sounds weird.

As I play normal games, they are always standalone. If there were some castle “keeps” appearing in campaign, they should change the translation for that case only.

It may be not translators’ fault though, because perhaps they were not given additional information of what it really looks like.

Thank you @IdleMagician268 + all!

We are tracking these translations issues internally. We very much appreciate the report and the attention to detail.

I didn’t complete the campaigns but noticed that the some event name close-ups at the last of briefing movies have a wrong Japanese font. It seems that they failed to apply the localized font on those cuts, and as a result, punctuation is displayed in English font while Japanese letters fall back to the last resort font (I guess Arial Unicode MS) which has quite ugly glyph shapes for Japanese.

cf. Your code displays Japanese wrong | Your Code Displays Japanese Wrong



Below is an example of a correctly rendered title box. It rightly has a decent HeiseiHG Mincho font and correct formatting (year number parenthesized). So I anticipate that every instance that has the English year format would be styled wrong.


A small translation inconsistency:

The Mongolian title “khan” is spelled ハーン for Genghis Khan but カーン for Batu Khan. Moreover they are both ハーン in the subtitle shown at the same scene.

(Moscow campaign mission 1 intro)

Some Mongolian tech issues:

Usually, the advanced version of Mongolian techs is suffixed with (改) in Japanese, but the leftmost two in siege workshop i.e. roller shutter trigger & adjustable crossbar have (改良). I don’t see any grammatical reason to change them so they should simply be inconsistencies.

This is something I overlooked in the top post, but the Monastic Shrines tech has weird name and description. The name, 修道所 (神殿), literally means “Monastery (Temple)” which is hard to understand what it is. The description can be translated “Monastery will improve productivity of the area without Ovoo.” but Mongol apparently doesn’t have a building called “Monastery” unlike other civs.

Very good post! I hope the developers see this and make adjustments.