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April 11, 2006

OMW in Japan

Nice news to wake up to: We have an offer for Old Man's War in Japanese, and we're going to take it (I said yes, anyway, which is how these things get done). Naturally, I'm curious how to write "Old Man's War" in Japanese; the closest I can get to via Google Translate is "老人の戦争," which translates somewhat inexactly to "War of Old Person." I assume someone with better Japanese skills (which, honestly would be about anyone) could do a better job.

This additionally makes me happy because I'm going to go to the Worldcon in Yokohama in 2007 and was thinking it would be nice to have a book in country before then. So now that's a possibility (the publisher actually has 24 months to produce a version, so it's possible we'll miss it, too. But at least now there's a chance).

Anyway, if anyone knows how to say "w00t!" in Japanese, let me know.

Posted by john at April 11, 2006 09:30 AM

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Benedict | April 11, 2006 09:38 AM

I'm thinking "BANZAI!" would do it.

And don't forget to throw both hands in the air when you scream it.


CoolBlue | April 11, 2006 10:00 AM

I'm thinking "BANZAI!" would do it.

Benedict plagiarized my thoughts! (where's my tin-foil hat)

OK, how 'bout "Wax on, wax off"

Cassie | April 11, 2006 10:14 AM

Great news, Scalzi-san.

Chad Orzel | April 11, 2006 10:16 AM

Anyway, if anyone knows how to say "w00t!" in Japanese, let me know.

HTH. HAND. Possibly, "see you in Japan," as Kate and I are planning to go, assuming I still have a job at that point.

Decker | April 11, 2006 10:28 AM

Roujin no sensou (老人の戦争) is a literal translation. The word roujin (老人) is gender-neutral and is used basically the same way that "senior citizen" is used in English. The particle no (の) is used to indicate the possessive, so "Senior citizen's war" is the translation you came up with. "Old man" can be translated in a number of different ways depending on the level of politeness, relationship among the speaker, listener, and subject, etc. O-ji-san (おじさん) is literally a polite way to address someone as "uncle" and is used for men of a certain age even if they are not actually your uncle. Jiji (じじ) is rude and has an "old fart" connotation. Oyaji (おやじ) is a familiar term with which one refers to one's own father, usually when he isn't present, and is used in the same way as "my old man" is sometimes used in English. It can also be used for non-relatives. Those are just the terms I know off the top of my head. I'm sure there are more!

I'd vote for Oyaji no sensou, but I'm sure your publisher will come up with the right translation for the market.

Kevin | April 11, 2006 11:07 AM

Would you say you are "Double Happy?" Which is the name of a Chinese restaraunt in the Denver area so has little to actually do with Japanese book translations. Then again it does make me giggle when I type it so it's got that going for it...

David Moles | April 11, 2006 11:28 AM

I think "老人" works -- like Katsuhiro Otomo's "老人Z" (which is a hoot, by the way).

I'd probably go for "老人戦士", which would translate as something like "senior citizen soldier" (or "soldiers"). Four-character compounds always sound good. :) (My favorite is "尊皇攘夷", sonnô jôi: "Revere the Emperor! Expel the barbarians!") But I'll be curious what they come up with.

Lisa | April 11, 2006 11:35 AM

One of the phrases I've managed to retain from a year teaching English in Japan is cho segoi! ... meaning mega awesome!

derf | April 11, 2006 01:12 PM

O-ji-san is generally more for the middle-aged (which, depending on how old you yourself are, I admit can seem pretty old). O-jii-san (お祖父さん), however, literally means "grandfather" but like o-ji-san can be used to refer to non-relatives. I agree, however, that Roujin Sensou (老人戦争) (dropping the particle) sounds the best to me.

For a translation of "w00t", also consider: Yatta!

Greg Lescoe | April 11, 2006 06:56 PM

Given the nature of Japanese releases of American titles, there is a good chance it will simply be transliterated as オールド・マンズ・ウォー (oorudo manzu woo) though I will grant that there is a chance it would be translated essentially literally (or, perhaps, renamed entirely -- that's not entirely uncommon either). In that case, it would probably be along the lines of the previously-mentioned 親父の戦争 (oyaji no sensou). I haven't read the novel yet (for SHAME!), so I can't offer any speculation on the possibility of renaming it entirely, though.

Steven Scougall | April 11, 2006 07:15 PM

I'd like to make an informed opinion here, seeing as I lived in Japan for several years, and studied Japanese for a while too, but that was all years ago.

"Roujin Sensou" sounds good. "Oyaji no sensou" is close but I always thought of "oyaji" as an informal term for a middle-aged man.

Translation of 'w00t': "Yatta!" is one. "Yoshi!" (pronounced yosh) is another.

Scott | April 11, 2006 07:53 PM

So, do you actually receive one of more copies of each translated version? I mean, if it was translated into Dutch, German, French, Italian, Mongolian, Icelandic, Tibetan, and so on, would you actually receive copies in each of these languages? 'Cuz that'd be, y'know, kinda cool.

John Scalzi | April 11, 2006 07:55 PM


"So, do you actually receive one of more copies of each translated version?"

Yes, usually more than one, as specified by contract. I will get six copies of the Japanese version, for example.

doubt | April 11, 2006 08:59 PM

おめでとう! (omedetou -- IOW, congrats!)

Scott | April 11, 2006 11:10 PM

And now, my best Japanese (I may know more Japanese, but this is my best)


That is the internet Japanese way of saying "You Rock." If you look at it closesly, you'll see that it's somebody kowtowing (o is the head, r is the arms, with hands on the ground, z is the legs). I wish I knew the Internet Japanese equivalent of "I Rock."
I think Yatta (as suggested above) is a good Woot equivalent. In my limited experience Yoshi (Yosh) is more commonly preparatory than celebratory, (imagine strong disclaimers here, I'm not capable of backing up or arguing my claim here).

Regarding the uncle/grandfather thing.
jii (おじい)is grandfather.
ji (おじ)is uncle.
Simple! Unless you're trying to understand it by ear and you're a dumb cracker like me, then it sucks.  The "o" at the beginning is aggrandizing, and the "san" part at the end is a sort of base-rate of polite, which is why Mr. Miyagi used it for Daniel, in movie land where teachers politely make students do their yardwork. *shrug*

Scott | April 11, 2006 11:11 PM

(I screwed up my hiragana, forgot to clip the お off of the pronuciations for uncle and grandfather)

David | April 12, 2006 12:17 AM


doubt | April 12, 2006 12:18 AM

They wouldn't be very Japanese if they went around saying "I Rock", now would they?


Durf | April 12, 2006 12:58 AM

Congratulations! And omedetô and all that good stuff too. What publisher is planning to put this out?

Not having read your book, I can't say whether 老人の戦争 or 老人戦争 or じじいの戦い or whatever would be best. But the "rôjin no sensô" one sounds all right to my ears.

"orz" doesn't have much to do with rocking. It's a small man collapsed onto his hands and knees in dejection, or exhaustion, or shock, in its normal use.

Scott | April 12, 2006 07:20 AM

Like most of my knowledge of actual live-use Japanese it's second hand, but I thought the orz collapse was generally awe-inspired, rather than through personal weakness. Oh well, I guess you unlearn something new every day.

Anton | April 12, 2006 12:04 PM

And the odds of OMW turning into a totally awesome anime greatly increase.

psychotoddler | April 12, 2006 04:06 PM

Just read the book (in English) and I really enjoyed it. You are a true heir to Heinlein.

You really do write like a gamer. Everything has to work for a reason; there's a certain functionality to your Sci-Fi universe.

I guess I'll have to buy Ghost Brigades now. Sigh.

Durf | April 12, 2006 10:50 PM

@ Scott: Hey, now all we need to do is figure out what the little man is doing in the "omw" sign, right? :-) (Growing lots of extra limbs, evidently.)

sgreer | April 12, 2006 11:53 PM

"Yatta!", I'm told, is anything from "awesome!" to "oh, yeah!" and is sometimes used like "go, me!" So I guess that's a form of woot, if we're keeping score on the options of wootness.

Minivet | April 13, 2006 12:40 AM

The only reason the translator calls it "old person" is because Japanese is very gender-neutral (in vocabulary, not speech patterns); "old man" would require another layer of specificity, unless you used slang. It's serviceable as a basic translation. Better might be an older, simpler word, 年寄り, toshiyori. Much like our "old man," it can be derogatory, but doesn't have to be. Still gender-neutral, though.

I would qualify equating roujin with "senior citizen". It was brought into use as a politer word for old people (in the fifties, I think), but it's since been superseded as the most polite term by 高齢者 koureisha. So it's kind of like "elderly person" as opposed to "senior citizen", IIRC.

Taeyoung | April 13, 2006 03:23 PM

To match the internet-age overtones of "woot," though, I think "yatta" and "yoshi" (and the old cry "Banzai!") do not quite cut it. Go for "KITA~!" (to be written in katakana). Somewhat like "woot," I have difficulty imagining a person saying it in real life, but I think it fills the same niche.

Taeyoung | April 13, 2006 03:27 PM

Or you could just go


I suppose. That's the way you see it on 2ch.

Scott | April 14, 2006 08:59 PM

Durf wrote:
Hey, now all we need to do is figure out what the little man is doing in the "omw" sign, right? :-) (Growing lots of extra limbs, evidently.)

That is a question I reserve for the reincarnation of H.P. Lovecraft. It kind of looks like a 6-limbed mermaid/merman (the w being a raised fluke of sorts?) 'ommmmm' is like a centipede so maybe 'omw' is a centipede that has been cut short and had part of it's body twisted around... so maybe it's the internet ideograph for the way children are cruel to insects?

alsafi | April 19, 2006 06:58 PM

I'll second (or third, or whatever) yatta as a woot translation. But for a guy, I think yoshi (yosh) would be okay in this context--in a satisfied, job-well-done sort of way. Chou sugoi is a little... it's more something to be said to the one who has sold their book to the Japanese market than by them. As is: saikou desu! Omedetou! That's awesome! Congratulations!

Do you know who the Japanese publisher will be? Can you say?

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