PDA

View Full Version : Japanese or English?


Original TMNT Cartoon Fan
05-31-2017, 11:09 AM
When the turtles are in the lair with Splinter, do they speak Japanese or English? Even if it's English to us, can we be sure it's in-universe?

Tetsu Deinonychus
05-31-2017, 11:33 AM
I do like the idea that they speak Japanese when it's just them and Splinter, but the "teen slang" they use at times suggests otherwise.

I like to think they can speak both, though.

IndigoErth
05-31-2017, 11:40 AM
Hmm. Interesting question as far as '87 goes. I've assumed it for probably being like other versions that use a lot of English with some Japanese thrown in.

Would be beneficial to raise them fluent in English for their own safety in the world above them, thus using English a lot at home from the time they were little. But can't see Splinter not raising them to be by lingual in his own language, and on the other hand, being able to be fluent in a language less commonly understood around there would also be a plus if they were within earshot of anyone who shouldn't be in on what they're saying. Perfect way for Leo to give team commands around non-Japanese speaking enemies. And I'm sure good fluency probably needs to be learned at home.

I vote a solid "both."

Utrommaniac
05-31-2017, 12:22 PM
For my personal take, they absolutely would speak both, and probably in the same mix of ways that most fluently bilingual families talk to each other in the exchange of their two different languages. Splinter would see the need for them to understand English, but also wouldn't want to separate them from the heritage he was raising them on. (On that subject, Splinter assumes Shredder is dead in my take, and teaches them martial arts while in the sewers because he feels it's the biggest family tradition he can pass on to them, since he lacks most of his family's possessions save for the weapons - which he of course has to teach them to use anyway. So he might as well go for the full works)

But the turtles would speak to April and Casey exclusively in English -save for Japanese grumblings if they feel the need to backtalk them without noticing. They'd also speak to Shredder and Karai in Japanese.

I can see Donatello wanting to learn more languages, and probably learns some Latin from the scientist April, who isn't exactly the best teacher in that aspect, but can give him the basics for him to pick up the rest of himself.

Original TMNT Cartoon Fan
05-31-2017, 12:24 PM
Hmm. Interesting question as far as '87 goes."

This is for any series. It's under "General TMNT discussion".

neatoman
05-31-2017, 12:27 PM
Interesting question, I can't think of any direct evidence against it.

IndigoErth
05-31-2017, 12:42 PM
This is for any series. It's under "General TMNT discussion".
Why it is more an unknown for the first cartoon imo, as I don't recall much use of Japanese between Splinter and the Turtles there, so... maybe?

The two other cartoons we have (so far) already throw in some Japanese (albeit not a lot), so I take it as their spoken English really is English, not just viewer convenience; since both are already present in those series.



Edit: Although '87 Splinter's Japanese should be a little questionable, given the times he's shouted "Sacagawea!" before attacking. lol (Though I assume that is just mostly cluless late 80s/early 90s writers trying to be silly...)

sdp
05-31-2017, 12:43 PM
I don't think of the turtles as knowing Japanese, at least in the animated shows, movies and few comics that I'm familiar with there has never been evidence besides that Splinter should or could know.

CyberCubed
05-31-2017, 12:48 PM
This is something Pete/Kevin probably never realized when creating the franchise. You make a series where Splinter was owned by a Japanese man and thus should speak Japanese. He should also bring up the Turtles speaking Japanese as his sons. But the Turtles speak like American teenagers.

TMNT was created before the whole anime craze hit the U.S., I don't think Peter or Kevin even knew what anime was back in 1984...hell the Dragonball manga didn't even start till 1986.

Tetsu Deinonychus
05-31-2017, 12:50 PM
The 4kids series had them knowing at least a little Japanese.

sdp
05-31-2017, 12:53 PM
I'm sure they knew what manga was but they just didn't care enough.

Bilingual families also don't just speak both languages necessarily, I'd guess it's usually one that is spoken. My family is a test to that and I know of others that are similar.

Also Splinter was a Japanese rat but he mutated in the US, so as he mutated I guess that's where he might've learned from books or what not same with the turtles, they learned from American media. I do think Splinter would know Japanese but only him I would guess. Obviously in the OT he knew Japanese but he just didn't pass that knowledge off.

Andrew NDB
05-31-2017, 12:55 PM
This is something Pete/Kevin probably never realized when creating the franchise. You make a series where Splinter was owned by a Japanese man and thus should speak Japanese.

Doubtful. Any kind of language would have had to have been developed in New York, just from hearing people talk, TV, and stringing sentences together. I doubt Splinter or the Turtles even ever knew how to speak full-on Japanese. Maybe later in life.

Tetsu Deinonychus
05-31-2017, 12:55 PM
They were fans of the classic Samurai manga "Lone Wolf and Cub" at least.

And, if Splinter can pick up Ninjutsu from Yoshi, I think he can pick up Japanese from Yoshi (even if it didn't make sense until after he mautated).

plastroncafe
05-31-2017, 12:58 PM
Splinter is usually portrayed as speaking accented English, which makes me think his first language is something other than English. Where as the turtles don't get the same affectation.

I've always assumed Splinter to be bilingual, with the turtles being varying levels of bilingual depending, but that at home they're likely to speak more English than anything.

Andrew NDB
05-31-2017, 01:02 PM
Splinter is usually portrayed as speaking accented English, which makes me think his first language is something other than English. Where as the turtles don't get the same affectation.

Splinter doesn't have an accent in the comics. And I'm pretty sure he has a Japanese accent in the cartoons and movies because Fred Wolf did it, and Fred Wolf wanted him to be Mr. Miyagi. Now everyone expects him to sound like that.

I've always assumed Splinter to be bilingual, with the turtles being varying levels of bilingual depending, but that at home they're likely to speak more English than anything.

I figure in his spare time when he wasn't whipping the Turtles into killing shape he probably read up on Japan, the culture, the history, and maybe began to learn the language... but I hardly think it was his first language or this thing that's embedded in him.

CylonsKlingonsDaleksOhMy
05-31-2017, 01:11 PM
Splinter doesn't have an accent in the comics. And I'm pretty sure he has a Japanese accent in the cartoons and movies because Fred Wolf did it, and Fred Wolf wanted him to be Mr. Miyagi. Now everyone expects him to sound like that.

I figure in his spare time when he wasn't whipping the Turtles into killing shape he probably read up on Japan, the culture, the history, and maybe began to learn the language... but I hardly think it was his first language or this thing that's embedded in him.

Depends on if he was Splinter the normal rat or Hamato Yoshi before mutation.

The normal rat? Then seeing how he only understood language in America, he shouldn't have an accent. (Mirage, 4Kids.)

Everything else, he is Hamato Yoshi first... so definitely Japanese as his first language.

Andrew NDB
05-31-2017, 01:17 PM
Everything else, he is Hamato Yoshi first... so definitely Japanese as his first language.

That goes without saying.

DisKosh
05-31-2017, 01:49 PM
I do like the idea that they speak Japanese when it's just them and Splinter, but the "teen slang" they use at times suggests otherwise.

Not necessarily, sometimes people blend languages or speak in one language most of the time but break it for certain phrases. For instance, if you watch the Korean TV show Boys Over Flowers, they speak in Korean but occasionally an English phrase will slip in.

I imagine it's similar for the turtles.

Original TMNT Cartoon Fan
05-31-2017, 02:13 PM
Not to mention the how it would rock with more of the man against man-fights between Shredder and Splinter in Japanese.

plastroncafe
05-31-2017, 02:22 PM
Splinter doesn't have an accent in the comics. And I'm pretty sure he has a Japanese accent in the cartoons and movies because Fred Wolf did it, and Fred Wolf wanted him to be Mr. Miyagi. Now everyone expects him to sound like that.


Not like say Banshee in X-Men, but I'd say an argument for accented English could be made from the cadence of his speech patterns.

Splinter might be a riff on Miller's Stick, but he's got more in common with the tropes Old Master and Magical Asian.

Original TMNT Cartoon Fan
05-31-2017, 02:28 PM
This is something Pete/Kevin probably never realized when creating the franchise. You make a series where Splinter was owned by a Japanese man and thus should speak Japanese. He should also bring up the Turtles speaking Japanese as his sons. But the Turtles speak like American teenagers.

TMNT was created before the whole anime craze hit the U.S., I don't think Peter or Kevin even knew what anime was back in 1984...hell the Dragonball manga didn't even start till 1986.

But martial arts films, many based on China, Hongkong and Japan had been popular circa 10 years before the TMNT were created.

plastroncafe
05-31-2017, 02:34 PM
But martial arts films, many based on China, Hongkong and Japan had been popular circa 10 years before the TMNT were created.

Yeah, how many times have we heard Kevin tells us that he and Pete were up far too late at night watching Hong Kong Movie theater, which were on basic television in a time prior to most people having cable.

IndigoErth
05-31-2017, 03:18 PM
Not necessarily, sometimes people blend languages or speak in one language most of the time but break it for certain phrases. For instance, if you watch the Korean TV show Boys Over Flowers, they speak in Korean but occasionally an English phrase will slip in.

I imagine it's similar for the turtles.
I've seen/heard that plenty of times with friends who learned English as a second language early in life. (As well as customers in the store I work at.) I always figured that English may have just been the simpler/shorter way of saying something, whatever said 'something' was.

Such as in reverse... a very longtime Filipino friend once told me her language has a word specific to a specific "feeling at Christmas time," while English has no real equivalent. We'd have to take a whole sentence to describe what her original language can with one word.

Original TMNT Cartoon Fan
05-31-2017, 04:24 PM
I've seen/heard that plenty of times with friends who learned English as a second language early in life. (As well as customers in the store I work at.) I always figured that English may have just been the simpler/shorter way of saying something, whatever said 'something' was.

Such as in reverse... a very longtime Filipino friend once told me her language has a word specific to a specific "feeling at Christmas time," while English has no real equivalent. We'd have to take a whole sentence to describe what her original language can with one word.

Isn't "Christmas spirit" the word(s) you look for?

ToTheNines
05-31-2017, 04:30 PM
Mm, they never speak it in front of Casey, April or anyone else, so I doubt it.

In IDW, we know that Mikey is the only one who has recalled his native tongue thus far (and even then it looks like he can translate Kanji to English, but doesn't necessarily speak Japanese). Also, in Mirage the only turtle who spoke actual Japanese outside of single words and phrases was Raph when he took over The Foot in the Image run.

DisKosh
05-31-2017, 04:36 PM
Isn't "Christmas spirit" the word(s) you look for?

I don't want to seem pedantic, but that's really a phrase rather than an individual word.

On a fun note, our language can be partially created by our environment so the Inuits have around 50 words for snow and ice. It's the default so it makes sense to name every type of snow and ice where as where I live, it doesn't snow very often so we only need one word for it. The main exception is frost and ice but we get enough frost and ice every winter to need different words for it.

This has led me to another thought regarding the linguistics of the turtles and Splinter: essentially they've formed their own community and society (although arguably you could say the same about any family), but theirs is more independent of a mainstream civilization. Perhaps a sort of hybrid language could end up evolving from it?

Original TMNT Cartoon Fan
05-31-2017, 04:54 PM
I don't want to seem pedantic, but that's really a phrase rather than an individual word.

On a fun note, our language can be partially created by our environment so the Inuits have around 50 words for snow and ice. It's the default so it makes sense to name every type of snow and ice where as where I live, it doesn't snow very often so we only need one word for it. The main exception is frost and ice but we get enough frost and ice every winter to need different words for it.



Exactly, just like there's some South Sea islands culture that has like hundreds of words for boat.

IndigoErth
05-31-2017, 05:32 PM
Isn't "Christmas spirit" the word(s) you look for?
Don't think so, since according to the friend there isn't really a true English equivalent. (Maybe there are religious and cultural elements that separate it.)

DevilSpooky
05-31-2017, 05:42 PM
This is something Pete/Kevin probably never realized when creating the franchise. You make a series where Splinter was owned by a Japanese man and thus should speak Japanese. He should also bring up the Turtles speaking Japanese as his sons. But the Turtles speak like American teenagers.

TMNT was created before the whole anime craze hit the U.S., I don't think Peter or Kevin even knew what anime was back in 1984...hell the Dragonball manga didn't even start till 1986.

Dragon Ball was first published in 84 BTW.

Powder
05-31-2017, 05:49 PM
I've always assumed Splinter to be bilingual, with the turtles being varying levels of bilingual depending, but that at home they're likely to speak more English than anything.

I share this thought.

Cryomancer
05-31-2017, 05:57 PM
I know we discussed this before but I can't find the thread. We even got a response about it from Peter, if I recall.

edit: Found at least the Peter stuff, from this thread http://forums.thetechnodrome.com/showpost.php?p=1483506&postcount=5

http://peterlairdstmntblog.blogspot.com/2012/08/ask-pl-9.html?showComment=1344651557330#c8632924407163642 561
While we never specifically addressed it, as far as I can remember, my gut feeling is that they could all speak (and write and read) English and Japanese. I suspect Don might have known some additional languages. -- PL

Someone else does here
http://peterlairdstmntblog.blogspot.com/2014/10/ask-pl-13.html?showComment=1412979980007#c893298244547337 6943
We never really got into this in the comics, but I think it is safe to say that Leo speaks it fairly well, Don also, but Mike and Raph only know some words and phrases. -- PL

CylonsKlingonsDaleksOhMy
05-31-2017, 06:00 PM
Love bilingual Turtles, even though it doesn't show up very often.

Image Volume 3, IDW's "Secret History of the Foot Clan", and... did Nick or Archie ever do this?

MsMarvelDuckie
05-31-2017, 07:11 PM
I would say both. Leo would probably speak Japanese most often, especially with Splinter. Don would speak it a bit less, and Raph probably only when neccessary. Then again, he called Don out on his poor Japanese in TMNT III, so maybe he would be fairly fluent. Mikey might use it mainly to read mangas, but not speak it much.

(I have a personal headcanon that they can ALL speak it fluently but choose not to most of the time- but might revert to it when angry by cursing in it.)

Ninjinister
05-31-2017, 08:02 PM
..hell the Dragonball manga didn't even start till 1986.

That was the anime. The manga started in December of 84.

plastroncafe
05-31-2017, 08:08 PM
FWIW, Splinter's the only one of the family that has "Speak - Japanese" as a skill in the Palladium game.

MsMarvelDuckie
05-31-2017, 09:37 PM
Good catch! But that was written when all we had was Mirage and the original cartoon. Was Archie around then? I think if they updated it now they might all have it as a skill.

Andrew NDB
05-31-2017, 09:44 PM
I like the idea of them knowing Japanese, but there's not really much good reason for Splinter to teach it to them, even assuming he knows it at all.

plastroncafe
05-31-2017, 09:46 PM
Good catch! But that was written when all we had was Mirage and the original cartoon. Was Archie around then? I think if they updated it now they might all have it as a skill.

Nope, not yet. "TMNT and Other Strangeness" has a publishing date of 1985, while Fred Wolf didn't come out until 1987, with Archie not publishing until 1988.

Coola Yagami
05-31-2017, 10:52 PM
I assume the TMNT are too Americanized and speak English all the time, not unlike most Japanese-Americans that were born and raised in the U.S and never set foot in Japan their entire lives.

ProactiveMan
06-01-2017, 02:04 AM
My Grandmother speaks Croatian but none of her children do. I think that's pretty common.

Shark_Blade
06-01-2017, 03:33 AM
English because April wouldn't understand them if they speak Japanese.

ssjup81
06-01-2017, 04:07 AM
I have a friend whose parents speak Spanish, but he didn't. He didn't start trying to learn it more until adulthood after his grandmother died iirc and he regretted not speaking with her more. He was born and raised in the US.

I like the idea of the Turtles being bilingual or either able to understand Japanese and being able to respond in English.

Original TMNT Cartoon Fan
06-01-2017, 05:11 AM
English because April wouldn't understand them if they speak Japanese.

We talk about when characters like April and Irma aren't there.

myconius
06-01-2017, 05:59 AM
In IDW, we know that Mikey is the only one who has recalled his native tongue thus far (and even then it looks like he can translate Kanji to English, but doesn't necessarily speak Japanese).

i'll have to double check, but i think Michelangelo was speaking Japanese when he met his parents in Turtles in Time issue #2 ?

**** edit ****

yeah, he does.
the other turtles even make mention wishing that Michelangelo wasn't the only one of them that spoke Japanese.

pferreira
06-01-2017, 09:42 AM
The OP asked a good question. It reminds me of the UK sitcom Allo' Allo'. There you have everyone speaking in their native French but we can understand what they're saying in English. Of course not everyone's French is good so when a certain British policeman tries it ends up translating into this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJ3M8cj70vs :lol:

IndigoErth
06-01-2017, 10:15 AM
but there's not really much good reason for Splinter to teach it to them
What about, as I was saying before, using it as a tactile advantage during a fight with enemies that don't understand the language?

I'm surprised if that has never really been done much. Could also present Shredder as even more of a challenge, if some version was to have them already used to using Japanese as a tool in fights before coming up against Shredder and losing it as an advantage.

myconius
06-01-2017, 10:21 AM
What about, as I was saying before, using it as a tactile advantage during a fight with enemies that don't understand the language?

I'm surprised if that has never really been done much. Could also present Shredder as even more of a challenge, if some version was to have them already used to using Japanese as a tool in fights before coming up against Shredder and losing it as an advantage.

facing off with adversaries that possibly understand Japanese would render this tactic moot.

such energy would be better allocated to training and further developing their Martial arts.

IndigoErth
06-01-2017, 10:55 AM
To repeat:
advantage during a fight with enemies that don't understand



They fight a lot more enemies than just Shredder & Co.

plastroncafe
06-01-2017, 11:43 AM
I would think studying the language native to the Martial Art in question would be advantageous.

myconius
06-01-2017, 12:20 PM
it just seems more superfluous than something that would guarantee successful results.

Candy Kappa
06-01-2017, 12:51 PM
Be able to even read what Shinobi-no-jutsu scrolls Yoshi leaves behind or Splinter possess would be a advantage. Just saying, those don't get translated too often :lol:

Andrew NDB
06-01-2017, 01:05 PM
I would think studying the language native to the Martial Art in question would be advantageous.

Half of them have Chinese weapons. Should they speak Chinese?

plastroncafe
06-01-2017, 01:06 PM
Half of them have Chinese weapons. Should they speak Chinese?

Sure, why not?
They live in New York, it's not like Chinese is a language you can't hear there.

I mean come on, like Michaelangelo wouldn't be fluent enough in Chinese to order from the really good restaurants...while also flirting with the waitstaff.
That doesn't take a whole lot of imagination on my part to consider.

Candy Kappa
06-01-2017, 01:07 PM
Okinawan would be closer since they know karate

ProphetofGanja
06-01-2017, 01:20 PM
I like IDW's idea that Mikey can remember Japanese from his past life. I can imagine Leo studying Japanese to get in touch with his roots, and I think it likely that Donnie might study several different languages in his spare time (although several of those would probably be programming languages). Raph on the other hand, the most removed due to his estrangement from the family in the first year after their mutation, isn't as in touch with his past life in my mind. At least not yet

Cryomancer
06-01-2017, 01:38 PM
Michaelangelo should know Italian in my opinion

myconius
06-01-2017, 02:08 PM
Half of them have Chinese weapons. Should they speak Chinese?

my point exactly!! :lol:

Michaelangelo should know Italian in my opinion

actually they all eat pizza, so they all need to start studying Italian.

MOMMA MIA!!! :O

IndigoErth
06-01-2017, 02:24 PM
it just seems more superfluous than something that would guarantee successful results.
So Leo being able to give a brother(s) a quick command mid-combat for pulling off some kind of maneuver together, while not allowing the enemy to be aware of the plan (as concerns English speaking enemy who don't understand Japanese), wouldn't be an asset... Okay then.


Or go the (Navajo) Code Talkers route, but using Japanese.

Cryomancer
06-01-2017, 02:32 PM
my point exactly!! :lol:



actually they all eat pizza, so they all need to start studying Italian.

MOMMA MIA!!! :O

Well I mean like, they're named for Italians. You'd think someone would address it on some level at some point.

ProactiveMan
06-01-2017, 07:23 PM
Half of them have Chinese weapons. Should they speak Chinese?

Cantonese or Mandarin?

PApagreg
06-01-2017, 07:34 PM
Half of them have Chinese weapons. Should they speak Chinese?

Well technically speaking Nunchucks, Sais and Bo staffs are all Okinawa weapons. So they should be speaking Ryukyuan

Andrew NDB
06-01-2017, 08:38 PM
Sure, why not?
They live in New York, it's not like Chinese is a language you can't hear there.

That's fair, I guess. There's a part of me that would like the Turtles to know a bunch of languages. You know, you can get the scene in all those movies and shows with Russian gangsters talking crap to each other, and suddenly Raphael pipes in in Russian, blowing their minds.

I mean come on, like Michaelangelo wouldn't be fluent enough in Chinese to order from the really good restaurants...while also flirting with the waitstaff.

Maybe about the restaurants part.

myconius
06-01-2017, 11:59 PM
So Leo being able to give a brother(s) a quick command mid-combat for pulling off some kind of maneuver together, while not allowing the enemy to be aware of the plan (as concerns English speaking enemy who don't understand Japanese), wouldn't be an asset... Okay then.


Or go the (Navajo) Code Talkers route, but using Japanese.

that's tactically unwise to base your battle plans on what any given combatant might or might not understand.

and a whole lot of energy spent when they could just use code names for drills.

i'm pretty sure i've even seen the turtles in films use names for battle tactics?

IndigoErth
06-02-2017, 12:00 PM
Code Talkers route
just use code names for drills.
Yup.





Though with all due respect...if fluent, I don't see how using a language costs energy.

Tetsu Deinonychus
06-03-2017, 08:49 AM
Be able to even read what Shinobi-no-jutsu scrolls Yoshi leaves behind or Splinter possess would be a advantage. Just saying, those don't get translated too often :lol:

I think this is a major reason right there, and I always assumed left-over scrolls are part of how Splinter refined his training after his mutation.

Also, I think Mirage makes it pretty clear they know Japanese. Otherwise how did they talk to all those Japanese people in "Masks" (especially with no English traders around). And, Splinter would have to know Japanese to know certain details about Yoshi, Nagi, Shen, and Saki (like their names), and to communicate with Hatsumi Gosei who I doubt spoke English (though that might not matter in psychic communication).

It's just easier to believe that Splinter picked up Japanese the same way he picked up Ninjutsu (or went through the trouble of learning afterwards), and taught some to the Turtles then to think all that stuff happened in English for some reason.

As for other languages, they do live in New York and New York is a true melting pot. It's reasonable that they'd know at least bits and pieces of other languages too. They're lucky they grew up in a city that could educate them like that. Who knows how they'd turn out if they mutated in Alabama?

Also, technically Anime started coming to the US in the 60s with Astro-Boy and Speed Racer. But, I don't see why Anime has to be popular for characters in a ninja comic to speak Japanese.

Original TMNT Cartoon Fan
06-06-2017, 05:47 AM
Half of them have Chinese weapons. Should they speak Chinese?

You don't speak the language of the weapons you carry.

Candy Kappa
06-06-2017, 06:02 AM
I donno about you, but I speak Sword fairly well.

Original TMNT Cartoon Fan
06-06-2017, 06:08 AM
I donno about you, but I speak Sword fairly well.

So if you use a boomerang, would you speak any of the languages from the aboriginal Australians?

myconius
06-06-2017, 06:51 AM
i donno about you, but i speak sword fairly well.

^ Hear! Hear! :D

Original TMNT Cartoon Fan
06-06-2017, 08:33 AM
Who knows how they'd turn out if they mutated in Alabama?.

They'd have to hie even more, and fight for the green power resistance movement.:)

IndigoErth
06-06-2017, 12:03 PM
I donno about you, but I speak Sword fairly well.
So if you use a boomerang, would you speak any of the languages from the aboriginal Australians?

Not necessarily... but half way through a sentence you'd d'uoy ecnetnes a hguorht yaw flah tub ...ylirassecen toN involuntarily turn around and repeat yourself backwards.

:tlol: