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Tips for Buying EarthBound

August 20th, 2010 | MOTHER 3, Uncommon Knowledge

In MOTHER 3 are some mice living in an attic who speak very strangely. If you’ve played the game, you’ve probably talked to them and said, “What????” If you haven’t seen them yet, here they are:

Originally, these mice spoke in an incredibly difficult-to-understand dialect of Japanese, I think it was a Nagasaki dialect but I can’t remember off the top of my head. Anyway, I wasn’t sure how to handle this in translation, but eventually felt that Cockney gave off a similar vibe in that it was technically English but almost impossible to understand if you aren’t in the know. It also seemed the most fitting for an old mouse couple living in an attic.

Anyway, if you’ve always been curious as to what they’ve been saying, their text goes something like this in standard language:

(Huh? That you, Alfie? Where’ve you been and what’ve you been doing? You never came back for Thanksgiving or New Year’s, so Grams and I were so lonely.

Well? You must be hungry, right? Here’s some Nut Bread for you.)

@Squeak squeak squeeeeak.
(You should show your face around here more.)

@Squeak squeak.
(Oh. You can’t hold any more stuff. Come back to get it later.)

@Squeak squeak-squeak?
(Oh, it’s you, Alfie. You came back. Come here to talk us out of more spending money, did ya? Well, that’s okay. Grams has no better use for this. Keep it secret from Gramps, though.)

@Squeeeeak squeak.
(We’ve been waiting this whole time, wondering when you’d come back.)

(Oh. You can’t hold any more things. That’s no good. Come back later, then.)

@Squeak squeak-squeak-squeak. Squeak squeak-squeak squeak.
(Just because me and Gramps are up here doesn’t mean we can welcome just anyone. We need to live long lives, you see. We need to be careful. We need to be careful. Do you understand?)

(Right, Gramps?)

@Squeak squeak-squeak-squeak. Squeeeak squeak-squeak squeak.
(Grams is absolutely right. An old-timer like me would freak out like crazy if someone found out we’re living here. The Johnson family three doors over got exterminated that way, so you need to be careful, too. You need to be careful. Understand?

(Right, Grams?)

Side note: the original Japanese used “Takashi” and “Yamashita” instead of “Alfie” and “Johnson”. And one of the holidays mentioned was a big Japanese holiday called “Obon”.

Anyway, I don’t know Cockney, so I asked around for some help. Zinco was kind enough to study up on the dialect and convert it for me. I would’ve liked to have advice from a native Cockney-speaker, but in the end I think the effect is more important than real-life authenticity, so I’m okay with how it is. I’m curious what real Cockney-speakers would think of it, though!


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31 Comments to MOTHER 3 Cockney Mice

Chas Guidry said on Aug. 20, 2010

I always crack up when I get to the mouse couple and read their dialog. You made an excellent choice going with Cockney.

Psi-Rockin said on Aug. 20, 2010

Mato, reading this makes me realize again what an amazing thing you did for all of us. Awesome Sauce!

neonix said on Aug. 20, 2010

Oh yeah, those mice gave me a good laugh too. Thanks Mato. 🙂

Millhouse said on Aug. 20, 2010

I never /quite/ managed to understand the thing with ‘Alfie’ in it. I think the line was
‘Oy, we’ve been China.’

That always made me flinch.
Thanks for clearing this up

mark said on Aug. 20, 2010

They definitely wouldn’t say “An old-timer like me would freak out like crazy” – that just sounds like modern American.

random guardian said on Aug. 20, 2010

At first I dident figure out that they were speeking cockney. when I read it I thought “what is this, some bastardized brit accent?” :p

mark said on Aug. 20, 2010

Wait I misread the post and ahh I’m an idiot ignore me bye

Kyle said on Aug. 20, 2010

sort of creepy – reminds me of Anne Frank…

MG said on Aug. 20, 2010

Woo! Chuggaaconroy! I could sorta make out what they were saying when I was playing, but just barely.

Zinco said on Aug. 20, 2010

I *did* see some Brits grousing that it seemed inauthentic, but whenever I asked for suggestions they never replied. If there was ever any drive for one more version patch of Mother 3, I’d love for it to be touched up, enough so to feel as right as it could without being at all coherent. There’s gotta be willing Britishers on starmen.net, haven’t there?

If you’re wondering, my methodology for this was to look at various websites for Cockney vocabulary, and try to make sure that whatever terms I used could be found in multiple sources. I’m sure that in a few cases, a given word only had one source, but that I ended up using it anyway because there weren’t any good substitutes. I spent a lot of tinkering to get the dialogue to sound, if not 100% accurate, and certainly not understandable, at least as nice as I could could given the challenge. I whiled away a few hours getting it done amidst my college work, and it was pretty damn fun doing it!

Obviously, a linguistic study is not ideally done over the internet. And on the off-chance that someone tried to translate the lingo themselves, they may have ended up flummoxed since no one site had all the terms I used, some of which were probably spurious anyway. But I’m glad people still like the passage. Still, who isn’t bothered by imperfections in their work?

Anyway, I was really happy to do this, both to contribute to the project and simply for the fun of rewriting the passage, and I’m grateful that you liked the result. Thanks for the opportunity!

anonymous said on Aug. 20, 2010

this dialogue seems a bit sad and disturbing to me

Yorkshire Gold said on Aug. 20, 2010

Funnily enough, I come from a long and glorious line of cockneys, although the only one who actually speaks cockney anymore is about a hundred and eighty. Maybe I should run this past him and see if it makes sense to him. From what I can tell it’s fairly accurate though, even if it’s not quite Pearly King-esque enough.

Dumbo said on Aug. 20, 2010

I’ve watched alot of british comedy since I was very young (I guess I could blame dad on that), so I knew right away that they were speaking cockney.

Steak said on Aug. 21, 2010

Argh, it’s so awesome how amazing the translation is.
I don’t think I ever thought while immersed in the game that it was written in another language/culture (well, maybe Earthbound culture).

Starstormer said on Aug. 21, 2010

I felt kinda dumb when I got up to them since I had a hard time understanding what they were saying. It almost felt like they were speaking another language but not really.

Saturnome said on Aug. 21, 2010

You should maybe add a “Translation” tag to these posts, I love “Making-of” knowledge 😀

Mato said on Aug. 21, 2010

It’s not quite the same, but this should narrow down most of the game translation notes and stuff:


Yoshimad123 said on Aug. 21, 2010

Cockney is a very uncommon dialect nowadays – so I’m not suprised you couldn’t find a native speaker.
Still, it is an awesome accent.

Mato said on Aug. 21, 2010

Yorkshire Gold: That would be really cool if you could do that. I’m assuming you weren’t being literal about the age of course 😛

Violet said on Aug. 21, 2010

I’m British, and while I’m no expert on Cockney, I know for damn sure that the accent the guy using on that video is about as far away from Cockney as you can get. Ouch.

I have to say though, it took me a few lines lines to figure out that they were meant to be speaking Cockney. It doesn’t seem to flow quite the same way as Cockney often does. Its certainly just as indecipherable though, and its rare that you see it written down.

Catherine said on Aug. 21, 2010

Isn’t normal English farther away from Cockney than the video accent? 😉

anon said on Aug. 21, 2010

I only recently found out that accent is called Cockney, but I did recognize it when I saw it in-game. I’m not British and I grew up in an isolated town, so I guess that’s why I didn’t know what the accent was called until I was well into my teens, even though it was one of my favorite accents.

Zinco said on Aug. 23, 2010

On the off chance that anyone (I’m looking at you, Violet) would want to try fixing up the Cockney mouse dialogue for the sake of accuracy—be it in vocabulary, accent, or flow—I do still have the .doc file around, if you’d like to have a go. You can get in touch at zincoinc@gmail.com. I mean, not that I expect there to be a future patch, but I really would like to know what I’ve done wrong.

Zinco said on Aug. 23, 2010

Oh, wait, a guy in the video was trying to ape a Cockney accent? I didn’t realize that was what you were referring to. Ouch, indeed. Still, the offer remains to anyone feeling unconvinced.

Violet said on Aug. 24, 2010

There really isn’t anything particularly wrong with the dialogue in the game at all, and its not like Cockney has set rules or anything as it is, given that its a slang dialect. So don’t worry, its all good!

Arutoa said on Aug. 24, 2010

I think he was trying to sound more old than Cockney.

Zinco said on Aug. 24, 2010


PK Mudkip said on Aug. 27, 2010

Hooray for Chuggaaconroy getting his video here!

Also many languages have something like this but…I really don’t know what to say for this because I just laugh instead of trying to understand whenever I visit these two.

Pigmask Entity said on Mar. 17, 2011

Wow it all makes sense now… someone needs to track down and use this Mouse!

Matthewtheman said on Oct. 17, 2012

Hmm, I see you’ve posted part of Chuggaaconroy’s Mother 3 LP. He’s part of the reason I got into the Mother series. After playing SSBB, I decided to look up EarthBound, and after reading its Wikipedia description I figured it seemed like a pretty funny game, and thought I should play it in the far future. Years(i think it was years, but I’m not sure) later I had a dream about playing Mother 3, so I felt the sudden urge to play it, but when I looked it up it turned out that it was only released in japan, but its predecessor, EarthBound, got a US release. So I decided I would get earthBound, but I then found out about how it hasn’t been released on the VC, and how expensive it was. I then found out about let’s plays, which were pretty much the best way to experience a game without playing it yourself. So I decided to look for a good EarthBound LP, and I heard Chuggaaconroy’s was pretty good, and i found myself watching his Lp of each mother game. I then decided I definitely wanted to play the games myself someday. So I recently found out how to use an emulator, and so I decided to get one and use it to play EarthBound. After beating it, I tried playing Earth Bound, but quit after getting to the Duncan Factory. So I moved on to Mother 3, and found myself loving it just as much as EarthBound. After beating it, a few days ago I decided to give Mother 1 another shot, and used your fan translation since it had the easy ring to make it easier. Then, 2 days ago, after beating Mother 1, I found myself wanting moar, so I decided to join the Mother community.


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