Finding an empty parking lot, Ryo enters it cautiously and stops in the middle, looking around him at the available space. "Maybe I can practice here," he muses. "Think I'll warm up a bit".
After a slight pause, almost as if to confirm the decision with some higher power, Ryo says with determination: "Let's get sweaty."
Ryo manages to keep a straight face as he delivers the English line.
Examining the equivalent phrase in Japanese reveals why the translation ended up the way it did.
The Original Japanese
As one might suspect, the English ties back closely to the original Japanese expression.
Ryo's words in Japanese are "ひと汗流して行こう" Hito ase nagashite ikou.
First let's break this down into its main components, with their literal meanings:
- Ase o nagasu = to make sweat run down, i.e. sweat; hito ase o nagasu = to sweat for a while
- [verb ending in ~te] ikou = let's [do something]
So the source of the English derivation becomes clear: with a literal translation, Ryo's words do indeed equate to something along the lines of "Let's sweat a bit"... or even "Let's get sweaty".
By considering idiomatic usage, more options open up for the translation.
Although ase o nagasu means "to sweat", in Japanese this expression also carries the meaning of "to exert oneself" with some physical work or effort. Hence the phrase sounds perfectly normal when spoken by Ryo in Japanese.
However it doesn't carry the same idiomatic meaning in English (although it can be inferred), and I think this misalignment is why it tends to raise a smile when heard.
|The original Japanese line: no chuckles present|
It is worth also making a note on the use of "Let's...". It is quite a common construct to use in Japanese for when the speaker is thinking aloud. Although there are times where it works in English as well, care must be taken as inappropriate use may betray the fact that the words have been translated directly from Japanese.
As an example, in Japanese you might say to yourself "Let's have a coffee", while in English it might be more naturally phrased as "I'll have a coffee" or "I think I'll have a coffee". (Many such situations can be recognized in Shenmue, such as when Ryo decides whether to play another round of darts, or ponders purchasing another capsule toy).
Having said that, for this particular situation with Ryo and his training practice, staying with the use of "Let's..." in the English translation does seem reasonable, as it gives the feeling that Ryo is fired up and ready to start.
Some Alternative Translations
The official translation could be refined by opting for something that follows the idiomatic, rather than the literal, meaning of the words.
Perhaps they could have gone for something like:
- Let's burn some calories.
- I'll work out for a bit.
I'm glad they went with their choice, though. Every game needs a line like "Let's get sweaty".