Spoiler warning: This article involves light info about the Black Eagle path in Three Houses.
Today’s post comes as a request from a friend on twitter, as well as something I myself was curious about when playing!
You already mentioned you’ll look into Petra, but there is one thing she says I became conscious about. Just after you pick Black Eagles and you meet with the students, she says in English “You have a gut, Professor!” and Dorothea corrects her. What was that like in Japanese?
So this is actually an example of great localization they do for this scene. I also want to take the moment to talk about how Petra talks in Japan versus English in this article, so let’s get to it!
The line in question comes from when the player chooses the Black Eagle house and meets the students for the first time, as a professor.
The following exchange happens in the official localization:
Petra: You have a gut, Professor. I will take great joy from your teachings.
Dorothea: Petra, I believe you mean to say that our professor has guts. That’s a bit different from having a gut. You can’t go around saying someone so slim and attractive has a gut!
Petra: Oh? Please take my apologies. I have not yet mastered this language.
The word play is on “You have a gut” and Dorothea correcting her with “has guts.” The idiom in English to mean is “brave” or “capable” in a respectable way. Having “a” gut, however, is often used in reference to visible belly fat.
So this was a very English specific word play they did here. We’ll come back to that later.
You may notice how Petra talks as well, it does make sense, yet still sounds awkward in certain areas, especially to native speakers. They seem to be going for a very “second language” feel to it, as evident by her saying she has not yet mastered the language.
In general, she uses odd word tense, word choice, or phrasing when she speaks. One thing to note, however, is that she talks at a mostly fluent speed and rhythm.
Now let’s take a look at the original Japanese!
Original Japanese + Literal Translation:
Professor, belly, is fat, wonderfully it is. Nice… to met you.
Huh? Wait a minute, Petra. Did you mean to say “big-hearted”? You see, it’s rude to call a woman’s belly fat. Especially for someone as wonderfully slim as our professor.
About that sorry, I am. Words… hard, mistakes occur, they will.
Note: The text I referenced was as female Byleth, and I lack access to this event with male Byleth. Dorothea’s line may differ slightly, but the overall scene should remain the same.
Phew, for starters, this is already a nightmare to literally translate and make sense of. I put in some typos here and there to help express her way of speaking best I could. Let’s first start with the joke, though.
In Japanese, Petra says, “腹、太い” (hara, futoi), which is straightforwardly coming off as Byleth’s belly being fat. However, Dorothea corrects her with what she was likely trying to say, “太っ腹” (futtopara) which is a word that means “big-hearted” or “generous.” Even if you speak no Japanese, you can see the characters appear in different orders above, which changes the meaning of the word. If literally looking at the character meanings, futtopara would still be “fat belly”, but the word itself does not mean that.
So! What makes this localization nicely done is that they were able to not only find a pun to replace it with –but one incredibly similar in its content. “You have a gut” has the exact meaning as “hara futoi“, (belly is fat). Then, when Dorothea corrects Petra, saying “futtopara” in Japanese for the compliment she meant, in English, we get the simple addition of “s” for “guts” and a change of “have a” to “has” to change the meaning entirely to the proper compliment it is.
While the end result is slightly different (praising generosity versus praising bravery/capability), the fact it so happened to work with very similar word play is what makes this a great example of localization.
Now, regarding how Petra speaks, even non Japanese readers can see that there are a lot of commas through the line. The words are stilted and broken up, and the copulas (such as desu , or “to be/is/etc”) are added, sometimes redundantly, as well as a myriad of other problems. In addition, if listening to the voices, Petra speaks with many pauses, and incredibly slowly. If one were to literally translate, she may end up sounding like how one usually stereotypes a robot in English:
“You. Have. A. Gut.” for example.
For Japanese readers, she will come off as slow-talking, struggling with proper verb forms, different levels of formality, and general sentence flow.
In English, she has sentence flow and structure down for the most part, but odd word choice and phrasing for certain, with the occasional slip up leading to jokes like this.
This style difference is pretty consistent throughout the game. Localization likely had to overhaul her character to make it still come off as awkward but understandable to English readers in a way different than the Japanese did.
There is likely much more out there about Petra, but this serves as a good starting point. I am certain other puns/word play exist that may not have carried the Japanese intent across as well, which I may cover at a later time.
I am highly curious how this joke is done in the other non-Japanese languages. If you have any idea, please let me know!
“You have a gut” to “has guts” is a great equivalent of expressing the original Japanese joke (腹、太い, lit: belly, fat, to 太っ腹, or generous). The end result comes off slightly different (praising capability/bravery versus generosity), but is a great example of localization that kept close to intent by finding a very similar kind of word play. That kind of opportunity does not present itself often! Regarding Petra in general, one can see her Japanese has many pauses, and she talks incredibly slowly with odd tenses and grammar structure. It comes off differently in English, where she is mostly fine in structure and talking speed, but has odd word choice and suffers from awkward phrasing.
|Japanese||Lit. Translation||Official Localization|
|Professor, belly, is fat, wonderfully it is.
Nice… to met you.
|You have a gut, Professor. I will take great joy from your teachings.|
|Huh? Wait a minute, Petra. Did you mean to say “big-hearted”?
You see, it’s rude to call a woman’s belly fat.* Especially for someone as wonderfully slim as our professor.
|Petra, I believe you mean to say that our professor has guts. That’s a bit different from having a gut.
You can’t go around saying someone so slim and attractive has a gut!
|About that, sorry I am.
Words… hard, mistakes occur, they will.
|Oh? Please take my apologies. I have not yet mastered this language.|
What do you think of Petra and how she speaks in the different languages? Any other fun moments with her you may think are interesting to look at? Let me know!
I’m very curious how they handle this joke and Petra in non English languages! If you have any insight, please let me know!
I’m taking requests to look into various supports and such in Three Houses, as there are a lot of fun localization things to look into here and there.