The quick or short Language Questions Thread (not grammar)


Would this have been less readable? I feel it represents the kana much better

I’d say both are equally readable to me. But I’m not a font designer so I have no idea what design choices went into that な

I think considering that font is considerably wider for vertical strokes than for horizontal ones though, that might actually make things worse. You’re getting hung up on the gap in the right part of な I think, which is just not always visibly there depending on font or handwriting. I’ve definitely seen it before, where it looks like just one continuous horizontal line, especially in low-res fonts.

I think in cases like this it probably makes sense to read the whole word so the individual kana make sense.

I think it says なかまをつくる - make friends/companions

EDIT: Out of curiosity, what game is it? I got interested as well :smiley:

Black Onyx, the first ever dungeon crawler with team creation in japan and main inspiration for dragon quest apparently

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It looks to me like in that version (the SG-1000 version?) of Black Onyx, They wanted the font to match that thick line style, like how in the English the P, A etc. have that one thick line giving it sort of a marquee/arcade look, and they sacrificed quite a bit of readability for it. (Or system requirements necessitated it in some way - it seems like an underpowered system that wouldn’t have built-in fonts after all. The way the line width varies seems stylistic to me but there could always be some arcane reason for it)

Usually in old games I see a font more like this one in the MSX version, which is more like your example:
But I don’t know that it would be possible to reproduce that in the space required and keep the bolder strokes.

Honestly – still probably a lot more readable than the original solution on the PC-88!

Edit to add: this is going a little overboard at this point, but I flipped through the catalogue I have of old Sega games, and hilariously, I think this might be one of only two games for the SG-1000 to have hiragana in them*, the other being this Sherlock Holmes game (ロレッタの肖像) that looks like it uses the same font:

All the other games catalogued are either arcade-style games that seem like they just have assorted English words, or a mahjong game that looks like it only has katakana and a few oversized kanji.

By the time the Mk.III/Master System rolls around though, the な’s look normal and all the fonts are thin-line in the screenshots I can see, so maybe that thick-line font is just a weird quirk of Sega’s first home console.

_* there’s at least one game I missed - a shogi game! I think… I think they only implemented を, お, せ, か, and し though… and the font looks… sloppy. Albeit thin! (actually looks definitely less like a real font and more like… one asset that says to move the cursor and then press the button)

Anyway, sorry for all the irrelevant detail, apparently comparing fonts in old games is one topic to get me interested…

PPS: I found a clearer thick-lined take on な in a Game Gear game about McDonalds…

That honestly looks very similar to the SG-1000 font, but a bit clearer and more refined in some ways. It’s several years older but still published by Sega for Sega hardware so who knows, maybe there’s even a direct lineage… (I suppose probably not)

In any case I’m leaning towards the answer being “yes, the な could probably have been made more readable without sacrificing the font style, but there was probably a lot left to be refined at this point in time…”



just because it’s all katakana? I think it’s plenty readable

That font was pusposefuly assigned by the devs of the games. It was a design choice.

Nope. The GG game was made by treasure, whilst the SG1000 game was made by sega (well, ported by sega actually), and I believe it was made by AM1 but I might be wrong


I didn’t mean to imply it was necessarily a hardware quirk - I just figure if a noticeable font only exists on the only two text-heavy games for the system, and not on other systems, then coincidentally or not you could call it particular to the SG-1000. Even though it’s intentionally designed for (one of) those games, since it’s likely the first Japanese font designed for sega home consoles, I could see there being a learning process when it comes to what works best under those constraints, leading to it being not brought forward when text-heavy Mk. 3 games started coming out within the same year.

I’d also be curious what dev environments would have been like, and if transferring fonts meant for a SG-1000 game elsewhere or vice-versa would have been easy. Presumably it would have been possible to tweak pixel-by-pixel, but I wonder if the font got used for the Black Onyx port just because they had it sitting around from the Sherlock Holmes game and it was easiest to transfer in that environment. (just speculation of course though).

I should have specified the specific Mcdonalds game - I was thinking of “マクドナルド ドナルドのマジカルワールド” which as far as I can tell was developed by SIMS, which had Sega as a parent company at the time. (not that it matters - the fonts don’t look quite as similar as they did to me at first glance)

I was thinking of the katakana yeah - personally I’d take a weird な over katakana, but true it’s not too bad, and it is at least nice and crisp!

From what I understand, it’s hard to think of old fonts like that as real fonts, because they had no scaling and filtering, and were probably just one texture atlas with evenly sized NxM cells. You load the atlas once and then just point to the cells by ID, later converted to the actual coordinates from half of the values being stored as const values (hard-coded), because math is cheap :slight_smile:

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google told me this one was made by treasure
afaik the only treasure mcdonalds game is the mega drive one so youre probably right

apparently it didnt use 15khz, but 26

Weird way of saying the font was tile based

My premise here though is wrong! A random youtube tab I left open had some Mark III 北斗の拳, and wouldn’t you know it:

I wonder if the original motivation for the look of the font was something evoking Victorian penmanship for the Sherlock Holmes game, and then it ended up in fantasy games after that since the look fits relatively well there too. (although it looks like Fist of the North Star actually came out before the Sherlock Holmes game despite being on later hardware, so who even knows with development being what it is)

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Is there a word in Japanese for verbs that are both transitive and intransitive, like 待つ? In English there’s “transitive”, “intransitive”, and “ambitransitive”. But in Japanese, I only know of 他動詞 and 自動詞.

Read an article about it the other day and they were just 自動詞としても他動詞としても機能する動詞, so maybe there isn’t a specific term.

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That’s quite a mouthful… Least they could do is call them 他自動詞 or something…


Occurred to me watching football yesterday: in American sports, the word “chippy” describes a game in which two teams who really don’t like each other – maybe they’re bitter rivals, maybe there was an incident that got everybody worked up – are visibly taking a lot of cheap shots, throwing elbows a little harder than necessary, lot of play past the whistle. Short of guys brawling, but it feels like you might be headed there. (Don’t know if it’s said in other English-speaking parts of the world sports?)

Anything specific corresponding in Japanese? Like “tense” or “rough” of course describe that as well, but is there a word or turn of phrase specifically well-known in a sports context?

It seems 自他同型動詞 is a thing


I know they have things like ラフプレー to describe individual actions. I wouldn’t necessarily expect there would be one word for “everyone is fouling harder than normal”. But I’ll ask around.

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If it turns out they don’t have one, I guess you can try to coin チッピー.


This kanji looks completely different in different fonts. Even jisho has the two variations on the same page. How come? How am I supposed not to mix them up?

Printed typeface vs handwritten.

Just like a, g or b in Latin script have also their different looking in a serif printed typeface and in handwriting, so do the kanji.

If you are not familiar at recognizing kanji in various font/styles variations, it would be a good idea to use the “font randomizer” user script.
Search for that on the forum to find the dedicated thread, it has also several screenshots.