Phrasebook foreign language in games

Interesting rant in the Guardian about writers peppering dialogue with occasional foreign words but rendering it mostly in English. This annoys me, although to be honest I’ve noticed it more in games and movies than I have in novels.

The worst offender in recent years is Assassin’s Creed 2. The game is set in Italy, and the characters are presumably speaking in Italian, but this is mostly rendered in modern English. Good so far. But the dialogue is only mostly rendered in English, and there are odd Italian phrases dotted around (which are translated if I have subtitles turned on). While playing, it left me wondering what the change of language was meant to signify, since presumably the characters in-universe were speaking Italian the whole time. Worse still, they’ll often say a word in Italian and then repeat it in English. In-universe they’re speaking Italian both times, so did they repeat themselves for emphasis? Or did the writer expect players to believe that people in renaissance Italy spoke English with Italian accents?

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One Response to Phrasebook foreign language in games

  1. Felix Pearce says:

    Ah – the Allo Allo school of translation. Listen very carefully – I shall say this only once…

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