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A Japanese person learning English has asked me what クリームパン is in English.

jisho.org describes it as "a cream-filled roll", but that may be describing it rather than translating it. The Japanese edition of Wikipedia claims that the English is "Custard Filled Brioches", and googling suggests that "Custard Brioche" gets more hits than "Custard Filled Brioches".

Is "Custard Brioche" the best term for this foodstuff?

Image of クリームパン

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You know what クリームパン means, and you are asking what this food is called in English. It is a question about English. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Jan 24 '13 at 14:19
    
I tried asking on English Language Learners before asking here. It's currently the second most downvoted question there! ^^ ell.stackexchange.com/q/205/54 –  Andrew Grimm Feb 6 '13 at 10:33
    
I have no idea why it is closed there (it is not a translation question in my opinion), but of course I am not the right person to decide that. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Feb 6 '13 at 12:13
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closed as off topic by Tsuyoshi Ito, Dono, Flaw, ssb, Earthliŋ Jan 24 '13 at 18:12

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2 Answers

I make it a general rule when I translate these kinds of things from Japanese to English, those being things which may be common in Japanese culture but are rare or otherwise not present in Western culture, to either preserve the Japanese word (for example we say 'sushi' instead of raw fish on rice or whatever) or to go with something descriptive when the person I'm communicating with might not know what I'm talking about, so like I might say natto to people who know what it is, but fermented soy beans to others who don't. Ultimately it's about communicating your point in such a way that you are easily understood and that doesn't sound jarring.

In this case, and given my conditions, I say you would be perfectly fine calling it a cream-filled roll. Why? Because that's what it is, and if you were trying to describe it to me as a baka gaijin, if you said to me "It's a custard brioche!" it wouldn't exactly give me an "a-ha!" moment. Translation isn't just about finding a one-to-one match for a word regardless of differences in use between languages. クリームパン in Japanese is simple and easily understood. Custard brioche in English isn't, unless maybe you're a big fan of custard brioches.

If you're just looking for the formal English name out of curiosity then you can disregard this answer. But for the sake of communication just call it what it is when there's no ready equivalent. I don't really think there's much of a difference between description and translation anyway. You can almost think of translation as just describing what something says in another language.

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+1 for mentioning that things often don't have a direct translation because they do not exist in other cultures. I reckon メロンパン is another one of those things. –  Frishert Jan 24 '13 at 11:49
    
Although the question seems to ask for a verbal translation, one could mention that for written translation you also have the option of providing more than one translation, viz. you could say kurĩmu pan (lit. "cream bread"); or kurĩmu pan, a popular kind of custard brioche; or cream-filled roll (Jap. クリームパン, kurĩmu pan); or any variation on this. –  Earthliŋ Jan 25 '13 at 5:12
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Yeah in Japan some people call it カスタードパン which would be 'custard bread'. But that's just custard cream stuffed into a hollow bread, so we don't say it's a brioche anyway. See the JP Wikipedia link here and there's no mentioning of the word 'brioche' (ブリオッシュ) throughout the entire article except for the definition.

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I presume the reasoning for calling it a brioche in English is the type of dough that is being used for クリームパン, which resembles the dough for brioche in being rich in milk, butter and eggs (or, for the コンビニ version, rich in milk solids, vegetable fat and pulverized egg protein). The Japanese word パン is more versatile than "bread" (or, conversely, the English word "bread" is more specific than パン), which is why a good English translation might use brioche instead. But there is no need for calling クリームパン a type of ブリオッシュ in Japanese... –  Earthliŋ Jan 24 '13 at 18:49
    
Great analysis, that's a really possible answer to why they call it a brioche in English. –  Greek Fellows Jun 18 '13 at 8:19
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