A Japanese ROM Isn’t Always a ROM

Some years ago, when I was reading the Mother 1 or 2 novel I think, I read in the afterword that the author had gotten an advance copy of the game so she could start writing the novel early on. I was confused though, because she said she had gotten a “ROM”. Given that the novels were written in the early 90s, I was like, “No, she must be talking about an early cartridge copy, not a ROM like we would call it now.” So I was always careful to try and not translate “ROM” as “ROM” unless it actually warranted it.

I just randomly stumbled upon a Japanese auction today that confirmed my hunch:

Being a computer geek I understand the technicalities of why translating that as “ROM” wouldn’t necessarily be a wrong translation, it’s just that nowadays it would give English-speaking Internet people the wrong impression.

So I guess the point of this tale is to always beware of false friends. Because they’ll sneak up and spoil the party if you’re not careful.

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3 Responses to “A Japanese ROM Isn’t Always a ROM”

  1. KingDarian says:

    Well, if we want to get technical about it, the connotation of ROM provided by those Japanese examples is the accurate usage of the term. A ROM refers to the physical computer chips inside of a game cartridge that hold the game’s data. What we commonly refer to as ROMs are more precisely known as ROM images or ROM files. But since those nuances are lost on the general public, well, you’ve pointed out the problem.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’ve actually seen the term ROM used as-is in this sort of way.

    Part five of the following:


  3. Kakashi says:

    Still, as you would know already; Japanese generally refer to them as cassettes (カセット).

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