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For week ended November 14, 1999 Posted 14 Nov 1999

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Returned Missionary Translates Pokemon (American Children Will Hear U. Grad's Words When They See Pokemon Movie)

Summarized by Rosemary Pollock

Returned Missionary Translates Pokemon (American Children Will Hear U. Grad's Words When They See Pokemon Movie)
Salt Lake Tribune 10Nov99 A2
By Vince Horiuchi: Salt Lake Tribune

More than 5 million American children depend on this former Mormon missionary to use his Japanese to English translation skills so they can watch Pokemon. Paul Taylor, a former Mormon missionary who served a two-year mission in Japan for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says, "It's fun to walk around and see T-shirts and games everywhere and think I have something to do with it."

Taylor, who recently moved to Seattle also does contract work for Nintendo, which owns the rights to Pokemon. Taylor began translating the show when it came to America in September of 1998. The show about a group of colorful, fluffy creatures, is based on the popular Nintendo video game that spawned the card game craze. Taylor also translated "Pokeman: The First Movie," which opened today.

The cartoon began in Japan and is now shown six times a week on WB network. According to Nielsen Market Research, Pokemon is the most popular children's television program in America. With all it's popularity it is not without it's problems.

"The translation of this type of program for children is kind of challenging because there are a lot of puns and some slang," he said. "There may be a joke that goes three or four sentences, and it may take some time to make sense out of it." Some words are hardly suitable for children in America.

"A word that would most likely be translated as shit comes up in the script quite often," he said. In Japan, "it's taken on as a more casual phrase, like say, 'Darn it.'" After translating the script it is then sent to New York where 4 Kids Productions has a writer who makes further changes.

"That was our goal from the outset--to not just do a literal translation of the show. We wanted it to feel like a home-grown show here in America," said Norman Grossfeld, President of 4 Kids Productions. "Where Paul really helps out is he supplies notes in additon to the literal translation. He gives us notes on the Japanese culture that tells us why it says what it says."

Taylor grew up in Ephraim, Sanpete County, and attended Manti High School. After a brief stint at Snow College, he transferred to the University of Utah. He left at the age of 19 to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Japan. Here he learned to write in Kanji, the Japanese alphabet and comfortably converse with others.

It was in the Missionary Training Center and the time spent in Japan that he learned the language. "In the MTC, it still seemed like a reasonable language, something that could be acquired easily," he said. "Once I reached Japan, it was quite difficult because of the differences between phrases. I had no idea what the colloquial language was like."

When he returned from his mission, he returned to Utah and graduated from the University of Utah. He then went back to Nagano, Japan as an exchange student and was hired as a translator for Turner Broadcasting.

Taylor will continue to translate Pokemon as long as it continues to be around. "Kids are really interested in the idea of someone their age being able to take on some sort of meaningful quest," Taylor said. "It seems like that is something absent from our culture."

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information