Dear Esther has been revered for its poetic nature, both in words and images or more a combination of these perhaps. The Italian translation of the game has caused a bit of a stir though as it’s claimed to take poetics beyond feasibility.
Not being an Italian speaker, Dan Pinchbeck of thechineseroom organized for Rostagno Giaiero Paul, the founder of indies4indies, to translate Dear Esther into Italian, which was then introduced via a patch. As you will know from playing Dear Esther, the language used in the game is quite flowery, poetic if you will, so Dan and Rostagno agreed to attempt to portray that in the translation.
The translation that was delivered has caused a few people to speak up and complain, calling it a bad translation and one that does not often match with standard grammar. The problem is simply that to convey Dear Esther as it is intended, the translation uses obsolete and archaic Italian words – an equivalent would be using Shakespearian language to tell the story.
Of course, not everyone finds it to be a problem, but there are a number of people calling it out according to Ars Ludica. Most games that are translated to Italian use a fairly common and “flat” version of Italian for clarity, which causes the Nords of Skyrim, the soldiers in Call of Duty and the aliens in Mass Effect to speak in the exact same style.
It seems that those who are making complaints may be missing the point of the translation and indeed the game itself. They skip over the point of the stylistic choices in the translation and approach the text from a literal perspective, not picking up the implications held in the language. The biggest problem is that people are claiming that they cannot even speak the archaic language even though the ancient text is commonly studied in schools.
It’s certainly an interesting debate that isn’t usually explored – surely a translation should aim to convey the style of the game as the original language did? The creators of Dear Esther certainly wanted that, maybe another translation that aims more for clarity should be provided, but would that lose some of the sense of the game?
You can find more information on Dear Esther over on the official website.