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Heizei_koukousei

What Makes a Bad Fan Translation?

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This is a classic question, which has been discussed many times over the centuries. I thought I would again pose this question in order to supplement the opinions I have already read.

 

Well, aside from the obvious reasons 

  • Machine translations
  • Incoherent sentences that distract from the story
  • Poor word choice
  • Lack of knowledge of the language(s)

Do you prefer complex word choice? For example I have heard complaints about the translation of Sharin no Kuni, which I thought used a pretty wide vocabulary. I can admit that the comedy was impacted by the colorless language, but I still enjoyed the story overall. 

 

Here are a few quotes to get you thinking

 

"Regarding rating translations, I'm not sure. On the one hand, it would definitely help people looking to play vn make decisions about what to play, and how to interpret what they are playing. On the other hand, I fear it could lead to a sense of elitism, which is exactly what Fuwa tries to avoid. Maybe I'm just being overly pessimistic, but I can see it becoming a kind of hierarchy, which would push out the 'not as good' translators and not give them the chance to improve" (meru).

 

"When you’re translating (especially if you’re fairly new to the activity), you’re likely to spend too much time hanging out in the part of your brain that learns foreign languages, makes rational decisions and does math. ... It’s really hard to make simultaneous use of the writerly and rational parts of your brain, as brilliant translation requires" (http://www.asymptotejournal.com/blog/2014/11/17/the-tiff-what-makes-a-bad-translation/).

 

A few threads from the early days of Fuwanovel covered the same concepts.

http://forums.fuwanovel.net/topic/233-shit-translators—youre-trashing-my-favourite-stories/

http://forums.fuwanovel.net/topic/225-propercorrect-fan-translation/

If you haven't read these topics, you might want to. They are worth a good read.

 

And don't even get me started on Moenovel 

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Guess Cross Channel is always a good example.  It's not the worst translation, but according to people that read the Japanese version, the writer's prose was replaced with ixrec's, the translator's, prose instead, which, of course, changes the way you read things, even if the general meaning is still the same.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moenovel

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A translation that doesn't flow nicely in the language you're translating to would be an example of a bad translation.

Being overly literal with translations can be your fall from the start and I often nowadays find myself reading other people's translations and cringing at the poor word wrapping choices.

This is a big problem particularly if you translate manga like I do and more often than not I've had to delete entire sections or glomp 2 speech bubbles together because there was just no way to cut the sentence in half like they often do.

When I translate something I think of the audience that's going to read it first and foremost, then I think about how I could transcribe what the author said into the language, making sure that the result is a coherent sentence that flows nicely when you read it and contains the same amount of significance, or as much as possible, as the original sentence did.

If I have to, I will, and have before, discard the original sentence entirely, because it can easily mess up the English syntax if I were to preserve it.

I'm a firm believer that the quality of the translated prose should come first to being as literal as possible with a translation. Because I'm not making a weeb product.

As for vocabulary, it needs to remain natural and not look like you just looked up complicated words on a thesaurus. Especially in dialogues you shouldn't over complicate it because most of the time the characters are using everyday speech so you shouldn't attempt to make them sound like 80 year old wizards.

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I agree with what Aaeru said in the second thread you linked to, particularly this part:

 

They are elitist. They are part of the older order of fan translators following on the footsteps of people like Agilis, Asceai, Insani.org (which I can't say very much about because it is before my time) and they despise us. because they associate people like us with people who do SHIT translations. 


While they will never admit it, it is all part of the culture of: I wake up today, and I will find new ways to look down on others. I will find ways to show I am intellectually-superior. You are all inferior. (aka 4chan)
One of the reasons why I made Fuwanovel was precisely because I couldn't stand that kind of culture. 

First of all, I think Aaeru completely succeeded in doing this; and I wish she could see the community now. Regarding Fan translation quality, only elitists really care. Obviously if a translation is noticeably bad, then even regular people will complain. But most fan translators who manage to finish a project; generally had their skills tested enough. If they can complete the project, the translation is probably good enough for most people (especially for those who don't know Japanese).

 

These days the only time I notice people complain about translation quality. They usually either know Japanese, or they are Rooke. And in the case of the former; I feel like those people fall into the category Aaeru was criticizing as being elitist. They seem to be flaunting their ability to read Japanese, and are looking down on the people who have to read a fan translation. Or at least that's the impression I usually get from them.  

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A translation that doesn't flow nicely in the language you're translating to would be an example of a bad translation.

Being overly literal with translations can be your fall from the start and I often nowadays find myself reading other people's translations and cringing at the poor word wrapping choices.

This is a big problem particularly if you translate manga like I do and more often than not I've had to delete entire sections or glomp 2 speech bubbles together because there was just no way to cut the sentence in half like they often do.

When I translate something I think of the audience that's going to read it first and foremost, then I think about how I could transcribe what the author said into the language, making sure that the result is a coherent sentence that flows nicely when you read it and contains the same amount of significance, or as much as possible, as the original sentence did.

If I have to, I will, and have before, discard the original sentence entirely, because it can easily mess up the English syntax if I were to preserve it.

I'm a firm believer that the quality of the translated prose should come first to being as literal as possible with a translation. Because I'm not making a weeb product.

As for vocabulary, it needs to remain natural and not look like you just looked up complicated words on a thesaurus. Especially in dialogues you shouldn't over complicate it because most of the time the characters are using everyday speech so you shouldn't attempt to make them sound like 80 year old wizards.

Thank you for the insight, this is exactly what I was looking for.

 

I agree that the target audience is the most important, I mean its the reason for the translation in the first place. I think that promoting audience pleasure should come before producing a direct translation. A translation cannot be equated with the original product. We cannot always expect to receive the same impact because readers of translations have different mannerisms than the original culture where the text was written 

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I would say the worst translation is the one that is made alone. A single person allows their ego to dominate the translation, fixating in their mind that the words they are choosing are the right-est and defending their decisions tooth and nail. Translators should be humble, realize their inability to convey 100% of the original meaning, and should also rely on a team to support them. Translators need TLC and editors to glance over their work to make sure they didn't zone out and miss a kanji or two and also to make sure their English parses well.

 

To me it's not about the content but about the team and community atmosphere. A good community or team effort can polish even a mediocre translation into an enjoyable one, but alone even the greatest translators out there will deliver something shoddy.

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Guess Cross Channel is always a good example.  It's not the worst translation, but according to people that read the Japanese version, the writer's prose was replaced with ixrec's, the translator's, prose instead, which, of course, changes the way you read things, even if the general meaning is still the same.

 

I agree with what Aaeru said in the second thread you linked to, particularly this part:

 

First of all, I think Aaeru completely succeeded in doing this; and I wish she could see the community now. Regarding Fan translation quality, only elitists really care. Obviously if a translation is noticeably bad, then even regular people will complain. But most fan translators who manage to finish a project; generally had their skills tested enough. If they can complete the project, the translation is probably good enough for most people (especially for those who don't know Japanese).

 

These days the only time I notice people complain about translation quality, they usually either know Japanese, or they are Rooke. And in the case of the former, I feel like those people fall into the category Aaeru was criticizing as being elitist. They seem to be flaunting their ability to read Japanese, and are looking down on the people who have to read a fan translation, or at least that's the impression I usually get from them.  

Aaeru was mentioning that Ixrec was, in her opinion, an elitist. 

 

It always confuses me when translators look down on the community that they are trying to produce a product for. I understand that a lot of translators work for their own gratification, but they must be aware that a lot of people are going to read their work, and a majority of these people know little or no Japanese (or whatever the original language was)

 

I have been subtly promoting a tagline for Skyspear as "We will continue to bring quality fan translations for the community to enjoy" And that ties back into Nosebleed's comments on the audience. I just think that a majority of people who can't read the original language are just happy to see any sort of translation, especially with visual novels. Vibrant language seems like it would be an added bonus at that point.

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One of Ren's first translators for the Aokana project was so elitist he refused to take a quick test to check his skills because he claimed he learned Japanese from [name omitted] and therefore that was proof enough of his skill and he looked down on what other people did as well because his way of doing things was just superior and he was always right.

This is the toxic mentality we try to keep away from fuwa.

Translations can be bad and no fan translator is above criticism, but douchebagery doesn't solve anyone's problems. It just creates a pessimistic atmosphere where people don't learn.

I often find some translations cringey and way too literal, but I don't go out of my way to insult the people who worked on them.

What's funny is that more often than not I find that the problem is not the translation itself, it's how it's worded in English. I can often understand where they were trying to go, but it doesn't sound as nice in that particular order for example, and a lot of mistakes can be fixed in the English itself, because the translator understands what was written, they're just having a bad time on how to word it the best way. And a lot of times I see these translators getting attacked for this, even though they had the right mindset, and they could use a helpful push in the right direction, not insults.

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Aaeru was mentioning that Ixrec was, in her opinion, an elitist. 

 

It always confuses me when translators look down on the community that they are trying to produce a product for. I understand that a lot of translators work for their own gratification, but they must be aware that a lot of people are going to read their work, and a majority of these people know little or no Japanese (or whatever the original language was)

 

I have been subtly promoting a tagline for Skyspear as "We will continue to bring quality fan translations for the community to enjoy" And that ties back into Nosebleed's comments on the audience. I just think that a majority of people who can't read the original language are just happy to see any sort of translation, especially with visual novels. Vibrant language seems like it would be an added bonus at that point.

To play devil's advocate here a little bit, if you're much better than other people at something and your skill goes to your head, you'll tend to look down on them.  Admission time :wafuu:   I looked down on a lot of my classmates in senior English for having very poor English skills relative to their age (yes, they were all native speakers).  I was basically in a class filled with people that didn't want to learn and could barely write an passable essay even if they took a full week to write it.  I felt like a bigshot because I was only interacting with people that were, objectively, a lot worse than me at English.  Then, when I got into college, I was suddenly in classes with a bunch of people that were as good as I was, if not better than me, and I realized that I really wasn't as good as I thought I was.  If I wasn't shown that I was not, in fact, a godlike student in English, I might have stayed that way.

 

I can see why they might have felt elite, but that's never a reason to be a jerk.  The fact that so many people are relying on them to translate something for them could also go to their heads, but it really depends on the person and their personality.  Power, even the perception of power that isn't real, can do nasty things to people.

 

Calling my understanding of Japanese "very limited" would be giving me a ton of undeserved praise.  As you said, I'm happy to see any sort of translation at all, since all I can do is pick out Japanese words from voiced lines and go, "Aha!  They said *meaning of the word*!  Aaaaand I still don't understand the entire sentence."

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I finished reading the entirety of both threads that Heizei_koukousei recommended. And they are indeed very interesting. If you have the time, I also recommend checking them out. I'll even link to them again:

 

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One thing that a lot of people who just read translations don't understand is that reproducing a writer like Masada or Romeo's writing style in another language is as much a job for an artist of words as a translator.  One of the big problems with it is that few translators have the necessary vocabulary in either language to manage it smoothly.  How many translators are well-read in the first place?  Pretty few.  People like me, who greedily gobble up reading material like candy, are rare in this day and age, and that makes things worse.  Quite frankly, I stopped playing the English versions as much because I gave up on the dream of a truly great translation as because I had no need for them. 

 

For the average moege, you are basically just reproducing dialogue with minor narration, so only a true incompetent could manage to screw it up.  However, in the case of a VN heavy on narration, the difficulty level of reproducing the writing style explodes.  Even a relatively light narrative in a chuunige - such as Bloody Rondo - would be virtually impossible to reproduce in a way that would satisfy someone who had played the Japanese version, simply because the ways in which a writer can play with narration are so much more varied than with dialogue.

 

Take Dies Irae, as an extreme example.  The dialogue outside of battle isn't terribly hard to handle.  However, the narration is convoluted, highly descriptive, and frequently poetic.  What a translator working on such a game needs to consider is accuracy, flair of expression, and grammatical correctness, in that order.  There are a lot of things everyone but the Grammar Nazis will forgive if you manage to do it with flair in a way that makes sense and still retains the meaning from the original material. 

 

My advice to translators is pay attention to what the writer is emphasizing, rather than just paying attention to the whole meaning of a sentence.  What the writer emphasizes tells you what he thought was important to the story, rather than what you think might be so.  As such, you should always try to reproduce the emphasis of an individual line, even if you can't reproduce the style in a complete fashion. 

 

Edit: The reason why I suggested that it is as much an art as a science is because so much of understanding an author's line of thought relies on an intuitive comprehension of nuance in a language.  Reading nuance takes long experience or an exceptional talent (I'm the former), and most people don't possess either one.

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I agree with what Aaeru said in the second thread you linked to, particularly this part:

 

First of all, I think Aaeru completely succeeded in doing this; and I wish she could see the community now. Regarding Fan translation quality, only elitists really care. Obviously if a translation is noticeably bad, then even regular people will complain. But most fan translators who manage to finish a project; generally had their skills tested enough. If they can complete the project, the translation is probably good enough for most people (especially for those who don't know Japanese).

 

These days the only time I notice people complain about translation quality. They usually either know Japanese, or they are Rooke. And in the case of the former; I feel like those people fall into the category Aaeru was criticizing as being elitist. They seem to be flaunting their ability to read Japanese, and are looking down on the people who have to read a fan translation. Or at least that's the impression I usually get from them.  

That kind of thing is common, I dunno, personally I'd rather not have to settle for something that is a subpar translation, its not necessarily about being elitist, these days i ve seen a lot of translation projects up from people who don't even know japanese and decide to machine translation which is unacceptable

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For the average moege, you are basically just reproducing dialogue with minor narration, so only a true incompetent could manage to screw it up.  However, in the case of a VN heavy on narration, the difficulty level of reproducing the writing style explodes.  Even a relatively light narrative in a chuunige - such as Bloody Rondo - would be virtually impossible to reproduce in a way that would satisfy someone who had played the Japanese version, simply because the ways in which a writer can play with narration are so much more varied than with dialogue.

 

Yeah, totally agree with you. To translate narration into English you really need to know how to write in English. If you can't write (and being able to write is different from being able to speak the language) you won't translate stuff nicely.

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Sorry for not responding to the post directly, but I've seen this complaint come up among VN readers towards JP readers, who visibly tend to be more sensitive to TL quality than others. I want to say something about it because I haven't seen anyone else address this. (Note: I'm not angry at all about it at all, since we are partially to blame.)

 

These days the only time I notice people complain about translation quality. They usually either know Japanese, or they are Rooke. And in the case of the former; I feel like those people fall into the category Aaeru was criticizing as being elitist. They seem to be flaunting their ability to read Japanese, and are looking down on the people who have to read a fan translation. Or at least that's the impression I usually get from them.

Particularly this. Yes there are times where it looks like we are flaunting, and we actually are flaunting (shame on us!).

But although it is possible for one to complain about translation quality because of their ego (to indirectly draw attention to the fact that they can read), in general the complaint they are making comes from a valid point of view, one which doesn't have anything to do with flaunting.

I agree with what Aaeru said in the second thread you linked to, particularly this part:

 

First of all, I think Aaeru completely succeeded in doing this; and I wish she could see the community now. Regarding Fan translation quality, only elitists really care. Obviously if a translation is noticeably bad, then even regular people will complain. But most fan translators who manage to finish a project; generally had their skills tested enough. If they can complete the project, the translation is probably good enough for most people (especially for those who don't know Japanese).

 

These days the only time I notice people complain about translation quality. They usually either know Japanese, or they are Rooke. And in the case of the former; I feel like those people fall into the category Aaeru was criticizing as being elitist. They seem to be flaunting their ability to read Japanese, and are looking down on the people who have to read a fan translation. Or at least that's the impression I usually get from them.  

Hmm...I agree that some of the crowd from TLwiki will bash everything but the best translations. The reason is because they have read enough in Japanese to notice all the fine details of narration, and how good an ideal translation can be. The thing is, the ability to put that kind of translation out is really rare, and only relevant for titles which are originally more prosy to begin with. You need a translator with a great deal of Japanese experience, being well-read in English with some writing experience, and have the patience and artistic quality to as Clephas says "craft" something in parallel to the original. Obviously, translators who also know how to *write* is rare.

Regarding Fan translation quality, only elitists really care.

 

Here's where I disagree. I, and think a fair amount of other Japanese-read people, don't expect the translator need need to know how to *write*. If the translator can understand 99% of the text and 99% of the story and put it together into not-horrendous English, it's a go for me.

 

Well, if you look at it this way, the only difference between me and the people at TLWiki, is that I value the meaning enough to say don't translate this if you aren't getting 99% of the meaning through, while some TLwiki folk also value the prose, enough to say "don't translate prosy works unless you know how to write as well, and btw, people who translate who don't even understand all the meaning, haha, look at those losers".

 

That's my stance. Maybe you don't really need 99% of the meaning to get through in a translation. If it's a plot-light story, I'm more likely to agree "if it's enough for the reader to have fun, then sure."

The reason why I choose this as the general "bar" is that I think it's a reasonable one, after considering the supply and skill distribution of translators and how useful a translation is of varying qualities (meaning ok/bad? naturalness ok/bad? prose-skill ok/non-existent?). In the time it takes to translate one VN or co-translate two, you could read about 7 VN's and study about a hundred more hours of grammar, which would make you qualified. As stated before, TL'ing is a pretty ineffective way of improving your Japanese skills.

 

If they can complete the project, the translation is probably good enough for most people (especially for those who don't know Japanese).

Two of the key sliding scales here is: how much does the questionable translation negatively affect the reader's experience, and how much does the it affect the reader's understanding/perception of the novel's contents (like when they go to discuss the novel).

 

  1. The experience varies more on the person reading (some people might not be able to stand slightly awkward translation, while others might not mind). I can see the argument that "if there are people who can enjoy the experience, then the translation should be done. People who can't stand the translation won't read it all the way through, and so there's no loss there".
  2. The understanding of the contents is more objective. All readers would be consistently affected by this.

 

Trying to describe the reason for not wanting sub-par translations (=not wanting people to read sub-par translations)

Just say you have a copy of some book you like, but the book is really old. Words are faded and bloched out everywhere, small parts of pages are torn off. Worse, there are confusing notes about the story written on the side of the pages, some correct and some misleading. You might be able to search for a copy given a year or two, but your friend wants to read the book now. Hesitation comes from:

You want your friend to experience the same book you did. You don't want them to read the "book" the first time haltingly, and then have to reread the good copy a year later. Maybe your friend won't have the patience to read the book again. You don't want you friends and others to think they have read the book, and discuss things from it knowing that the impression they've received is likely flawed.

Anyways. Some of the points (reasons for not wanting people to read a sub-par translation) that I've described in metaphor here, can be found stated plainly in an older post.
 

When it comes to voicing dissent, I still believe in the right to politely state one's disapproval and try and persuade the group to stop, but should allow the group to proceed if they decide to. There should be no harassment. In private circles people can ridicule anything they want I suppose, but since means those people don't respect the fact that other people can do whatever they want for fun, I must disapprove of it.

 

I think the opinion of so called "elitists" on what standards a VN should be translated to is a valid one and I can see what they are valuing, even though I think it's unrealistic and disagree. It's just their actions which I disapprove of.

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Speaking of target audience, when it comes to VN translations, it can be roughly divided into 3 main groups. And each group has different standards for acceptable translation-quality:

 

Group 1 - People who care about prose and want to experience VNs in a way that's as close to the original writing as possible. This group will -never- be satisfied with translations, even good ones, simply because translations are flawed by definition (I know from personal experience, since I kind of belong here :P). The only reasonable option for them is learning Japanese, and well, they usually end up doing that sooner or later.

For Aaeru, they are all "elitists" by default.

 

Group 2 - People who don't mind the fact that translations will never be perfect. Some of them will probably try learning JP, but the majority is fine with reading translated VNs. As long as the TL is reasonably decent - they do have some standards. They will be fine with a bit too literal writing, not conveying some nuances properly, probably even with Ixrec's stuff. However, they won't swallow absolute thrash, with exceptionally awful writing, very poor TL-accuracy, and/or stuff that just doesn't make sense at all (that is - MoeNovel "quality", or current Monobeno project; not to even mention copypasted machine translations).

And because of that, in Aaeru's vocabulary they also count as "elitists" (because, just like Zalor said - "Regarding Fan translation quality, only elitists really care.").

 

Group 3 - People who simply don't give a damn about that weird thingy called "writing". They are fine even if they get only the very general idea of what is going on. They will swallow butchered KonoSora, they will even "read" Flyable Hearts troll-MT patch. Because they just don't care.

They aren't "elitists". And Aaeru loves them.

 

Group 1 isn't really an audience for translations. If anything, this group is a potential source of translations.

Group 2 is an audience for decent (don't confuse with "perfect") TLs. Probably even some sub-par-TLs. But not for thrash-TLs.

Group 3 is an audience for more or less everything, no matter how poorly translated it is (well, some people will avoid pure MT-gibberish, but they will gladly swallow everything else).

 

The thing that I'd like aspiring translators to consider here, is that a decent TL can please both group 2 and 3, while thrash-TL not only is limited to group 3 alone, but will also deny everyone else from enjoying this particular VN in English (since in reality, we are limited to only 1 TL per VN).

 

First of all, I think Aaeru completely succeeded in doing this; and I wish she could see the community now. Regarding Fan translation quality, only elitists really care. Obviously if a translation is noticeably bad, then even regular people will complain. But most fan translators who manage to finish a project; generally had their skills tested enough. If they can complete the project, the translation is probably good enough for most people (especially for those who don't know Japanese).

 

These days the only time I notice people complain about translation quality. They usually either know Japanese, or they are Rooke. And in the case of the former; I feel like those people fall into the category Aaeru was criticizing as being elitist. They seem to be flaunting their ability to read Japanese, and are looking down on the people who have to read a fan translation. Or at least that's the impression I usually get from them.  

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Where are those "regular people" who are supposed to complain when the TL is noticeably bad? Did you mean those who claim that KonoSora only has "some typos"? Or those who were blindly encouraging the last Eustia project (and do it now with Monobeno)?

No. When somebody complains that the TL is noticeably bad, they are labeled as "elitists". That's how Aaeru-logic works. Because you will always find plenty of people with low enough standards to accept a thrash-quality TL.

 

And yeah, it's indeed true that so far, those Fan-TLs that were actually completed (copypasting MTs aside), usually are good enough, while incompetent projects usually end up dead. But blindly praising crappy translations and encouraging people to continue them can change this. And that is even more toxic than those "elitist haters" everyone mentions here. Because every post with such blind encouragement, also has "If your standards aren't as low as mine, fuck you, you will never be able to read this VN with proper TL." written between the lines.

There's one notable difference though - "elitist haters" know full well that they are acting like jerks, while the other side doesn't realize this, because they see no further than ends of their noses.

 

The part I bolded in the above quote is probably the key point about what I think. I don't think there is anything wrong in discouraging people from translating something, so long as you provide good reasoning. But from what I've seen, if translators aren't good enough; they will eventually give up somewhere along the lines. It's survival of the fittest in a sense. For the most part, only translations that are good enough to satisfy group 2 will survive to the end of the project.

 

The reason Elitists bother me, is because they often trash on all translations. They behave in such a way where if you read a translated VN, even if it's well translated, they will look down on you. I get the impression that elitists look down on both groups 2 and 3, simply because they don't know Japanese. It's great if you know Japanese, but why be a dick to people who don't? Visual Novel's will never gain more popularity in the West if we have a community of people who will insult you simply for reading any VN translated. 

 

Furthermore what eludes me, is why the elitists care in the first place about translations. They know Japanese, they don't need translations. Chronopolis answered this a bit in his post, but I honestly still don't completely understand why they get so butt hurt by translations when it doesn't affect them personally. Bad translations can only damage the experience for people who need a translation.   

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I don't really look down on people who can't read in Japanese, though I sometimes joke about it.  If you'd asked me five years ago, I would have given you a different answer though.  While I personally believe that reading the VNs in their original language is more enjoyable, I don't deny that there are 'good' translations out there... I simply don't want to read them, lol.

 

Me wanting others to learn Japanese so they can play them in Japanese is more or less out of loneliness... the community of non-Japanese who read VNs in Japanese is really small, after all. 

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I feel like I can`t add much to the great words from both posts above me but there`s one other thing I think we should think about. I often find it bizarre how often people think of translation projects like this closed cat-box that no one can mess with except the team working on it and no one will know how it is until it`s all done or a patch is out or something. As I stated earlier, a translation is only as good as the COMMUNITY effort that goes into it. Unless you`ve got a super possessive project lead (which is stupid and weird) projects should be much more open, with people who notice problems contributing their thoughts to help make it better. Instead of just dismissing a project `oh this is crap and probably won`t go anywhere` I don`t see why more people don`t at least try to lend a hand to change that. I realize not every single person can dedicate the time required to work on a translation project, but as simple a thing as PMing a translator saying `I see you`re having trouble with this specific bit of Japanese grammar, the way it is used is like this, that should help a little in the future translation` can go a long way toward improving things.

 

My pet peeve with `elitists` is how all they do is complain without helping. Or they hammer out a `fixed` translation of a few lines then say `see? your version is crap so give up`. Because meticulously translating 5-6 lines is the same as the mind-numbingly long and difficult process of trying to accurately render 10,000+ lines into English. If the community could be more a group of people trying to help each other achieve greater things than they would be capable of alone I think most translation projects would be a great deal better.

 

Translators should also be more open and less possessive of their translations. I think networking, sharing and getting input from other people about how to improve your translation is essential even if you think you`ve mastered the language.

 

Sorry that was a lot more tl:dr than I intended.

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I'm more or less in agreement with Aaeru's OP in the linked thread.  I haven't read the entire thread to verify if our views match exactly.  It's fine to have opinions; the problem is insisting on shoving your opinion down others' throat--which is exactly what happens when a group of people sets standards and starts holding everyone else to them.

 

As for my own opinion on the key elements to a translation, the priority is: quality of the English prose (word choice, fluency), accuracy to the general message of the original Japanese (but not the words!), least importantly polish (avoiding minor grammar errors and typos).  I'm of the opinion that someone with a rudimentary (not fluent) understanding of Japanese can put out an acceptable English translation.  In the end, the English writing skills of the translator are much more important than a complete understanding of the original sentences and nuance.  Will the result be completely accurate?  No.  But it'll be good enough that most people won't know the difference or mind even if they did.  See my own translation samples for examples of this mindset in practice.

 

I also disagree that a very literal, accurate translation that's poorly written in English is better than a translation with translation mistakes that flows well in English.  Here's an example from my Kagura Douchuuki article.  The first sample is a literal translation of the game synopsis straight from the Japanese official site.  The second sample is my version--written using my own words--using a combination of the official site and my own memory.

 

Original

物語の時代は現代。
しかしながら舞台となる寂れた温泉街は数十年前の日本の姿を濃厚に留め、訪れる者にまるで時間の流れから取り残されたかのような印象すら与えます。
そんな片田舎の村で、住民が次々に神隠しに遭うという事件が勃発します。
しかし、警察の捜査は一向に進まず、たびたび起こる怪奇現象によってさらに被害が増すばかり。
事態を重く見た神社の退魔部隊は、事件解決のために3人の神職者を派遣しました。
妖怪共存派、妖怪撲滅派、そしてこの凸凹コンビの監視&調整役…。
こんな水と油のような面々が、協力体制を築けるわけがありません。
こんな状態で、果たして事件を解決することが出来るのでしょうか…?

 

Literal

The story's time period is modern times. However, the town where the story takes place has the style of Japan several decades ago, and anyone visiting usually has the feeling that time has stopped completely for a little while. In that rural town, there have been several mysterious disappearances lately. However, the police investigations led nowhere, with these mysterious cases only increasing. Seeing the gravity of the situation, shinto shrines send out 3 priests from the anti-demon squadron to deal with the matter. The youkai coexistence faction, the youkai eradication faction, and the uneven combination's investigation and observation...these groups, which usually mix like oil and water, must form bonds and partnerships to succeed. Can the incidents be quelled like this...?

 

Mine

Kagura Douchuuki takes place in a remote village built around a hot springs resort in modern-day Japan. The once prosperous village, now largely abandoned, provides a nostalgic glimpse into a rural past unfettered by modern-day civilization and the din of machines. Residents of this rural village have been disappearing recently, and despite a police investigation bizarre incidents continue to plague the area. Suspecting the involvement of otherworldly creatures known as youkai, a squad of Shinto exorcists is dispatched to investigate the disappearances. This 3-member squad consists of two warrior priestesses, sword-wielding Ibuki from the Youkai Coexistence faction and spear-wielding Nazuna from the Youkai Extermination faction, and the monk Minase tasked with coordinating the investigation and performing purification rites. Can the two priestesses overcome their differences and get to the bottom of the mysterious disappearances?

 

Am I fluent in Japanese?  Nope!  But I think my rendition of the synopsis is better than the translation above it.

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Furthermore what eludes me, is why the elitists care in the first place about translations. They know Japanese, they don't need translations. Chronopolis answered this a bit in his post, but I honestly still don't completely understand why they get so butt hurt by translations when it doesn't affect them personally. Bad translations can only damage the experience for people who need a translation.

Above everything else, bad translations damage or even destroy VNs. It's safe to assume that people who had enough dedication to learn Japanese to read VNs, kinda like this medium. Sure, they could just say "Fuck this retarded community, I'll just read stuff in JP.". But, as Celphas mentioned, it's a rather lonely option. Not everyone here is completely anti-social, you know?

 

My pet peeve with `elitists` is how all they do is complain without helping. Or they hammer out a `fixed` translation of a few lines then say `see? your version is crap so give up`. Because meticulously translating 5-6 lines is the same as the mind-numbingly long and difficult process of trying to accurately render 10,000+ lines into English. If the community could be more a group of people trying to help each other achieve greater things than they would be capable of alone I think most translation projects would be a great deal better.

The problem is - when somebody makes glaring mistakes in just those few lines he/she presents as an example of his/her work, the only sensible advice you can give such person is - give up and learn Japanese. If you wanted to make a detailed list of things they should improve, you'd just end up copypasting a table of contents from Tae Kim's guide. What kind of "help" do you have in mind? Teaching then the basics? Or throwing their work out of the window and re-translating everything from scratch? Because I don't see other options.

Look, I posted fragments from KonoSora both here and on VNDB, and for some mysterious reason, I didn't see any of those scary, evil "elitists" complaining about them. I asked this question a few times already, but where exactly are those "elitists"? On 4chan, or other dedicated troll-spots?

 

@Sanahtlig

Raw, overly literal translation is no good, that much is obvious. But, it's still a translation. It can, and should be checked by editors. Then it can be written well in English, and still remain decently faithful to the original. So, the "Literal" version of the synopsis shouldn't even be considered a final product.

 

As for your rendition, there's a little problem with it. It's NOT a translation at all. It could work for a synopsis (after fixing some details - like mixing up naginata with a spear, or labeling a female character as a monk...). But if you rewrote entire VN like this, it would turn into an alternative story. A fanfic, pretty much. And when the "rewriter" doesn't have a good grasp of the original story (because of poor JP skills), such fanfic is guaranteed to be BS. And well-written BS, is still BS.

In this case, it IS a final product. Editors can't do anything here, it's unsalvageable.

 

As for your last question, you are trying to compare two completely different things - a raw, unedited translation of the original text, and your own writing very loosely based on the original text. It's kinda like asking if a dog is better than a toaster...

But in the end, people don't want to read "Random Anon's Loose Interpretation of VN X". They want to read "VN X".

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 like mixing up naginata with a spear, or labeling a female character as a monk...

As I recall, the "monk" is either a male or a hermaphrodite.  I don't quite remember which, but he's not female since the lore of the game states that a male's semen is required to purify youkai corruption.

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Furthermore what eludes me, is why the elitists care in the first place about translations. They know Japanese, they don't need translations. Chronopolis answered this a bit in his post, but I honestly still don't completely understand why they get so butt hurt by translations when it doesn't affect them personally. Bad translations can only damage the experience for people who need a translation.   

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