Did you know that Everybody Poops was first known in English as Everybody Eats And......? It's true! You see, the original publisher, Fukuinkan Shoten 福音館書店 (literally "Gospel House Publishers"—they were originally founded to distribute Christian materials) includes in the colophon of every children's book they publish an English translation of the book's title, but apparently the literal translation of minna unchi (viz, "everybody poops") was deemed a bit too shocking for colophonic insertion, so they bowdlerized it, no doubt inspired by the final two pages summarizing the book's thesis: ikimono wa taberu kara, minna unchi o suru n' da ne, "Animals [all] eat, so they all poop [too].")

The English titles in Fukuinkan's colophons are a sort of mini-treasury of translation techniques, as it happens. Some of them have a sort of brutal simplicity, like "Pretty Box" for Sena Keiko's Kirei na Hako: the meaning is fine, but it would be more idiomatic in English to include at least a definite article. Some struggle valiantly to preserve the feel of the original in relatively staid English, like "Kid Hops and Jumps" for Tashima Seizō's Koyagi ga Pyon-Pyon ("[Goat] kid goes boing-boing!"). Others add peculiar embellishments: Anno Mitsuaki's A-I-U-E-O Omise becomes "Anno's A-I-U-E-O Shops." Anno is amazing, but is he really that well-known outside Japan that this treatment makes sense?

Some use the jargon + explanation technique to handle Japan-specific cultural stuff: the English title for Kabayama Sachikazu's Kakigōri is "Kakigori - Japanese Shaved Ice". And then there are some where you want to give the translator a pat on the back: Masuda Junko's Osakana ippai ("Lots of fish") is dubbed "Red Fish, Blue Fish, Yellow Fish". Meanwhile, Hayashi Akiko's Otete ga deta yo ("My hand popped out" — it's about a small child putting on a smock, poking their limbs out of the expected holes one by one") is "Where's My Hand?" (actually closer to a line on the previous page).

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I need to up my baby-talk game. "Otete" indeed.

Does the prevalence of such words decrease as the number of words in a picture book (age-level, usually) increase?


Oh, yeah. I don't really know what the children's lit scene is like in the English-speaking world, but these companies have it down to a science. There are subscription schemes where you get sent a new book (or a classic, whatever) every month, divided by age, topic, etc. I haven't seen the "otete" or "anyo" stuff in any book intended for a kid older than 1...


<i>Anno is amazing, but is he really that well-known outside Japan that this treatment makes sense?</i>

Isn't it MItsumasa, not Mitsuaki Anno?

I had a lot of Anno books as a child and their English names all followed the 'Anno's' format -- Anno's Alphabet, Anno's USA, Anno's Hat Tricks, etc.


You're right, of course, it's Mitsumasa. I don't know what went wrong there.

I guess that was a trademark of his, then -- I can see how "Anno's Alphabet" would seem like a good idea if it was the first in the series.

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