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How does one develop editing skills specific to VNs?


Zander
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I've wanted to try my hand at editing for quite a while, and have worked on a few minor projects, but I've hit a roadblock where I feel I need experience but am too inexperienced to solely edit a full-on fan translation or what have you without compromising the quality of the project.

I was originally made aware of Fuwanovel's existence after stumbling upon Darbury and later Fred's blogs while searching for resources to learn editing specific to the visual novel medium. Although extremely helpful, I found that they tended to focus on rather specific subjects rather than anything comprehensive or general (not criticising, mind, I don't expect an encyclopedia from a blog post).

Anyway, I'm curious for suggestions/advice on how to proceed, whether it be directing me or simply a motivational "Zander ya idiot just work on a project smh".

Thank you very much in advance! ^_^

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Mmm... Decay or Poltroon would probably be better advisors on this matter.  However, I can give you a few pieces of advice.

First, unify your terminology and name-spelling... when translating from Japanese to English, this is always an issue, especially with fantasy and sci-fi types.  As an example... the term 汚染獣 (romaji: osenjuu) from the anime Koukaku no Regios.  First, ask your translator how many variations on the translation of the jargon term he can think of, then figure out if you can find or create a term that fits and doesn't feel awkward to you when reading it.  In this case, we picked 'Taint Beasts', though the official translations picked something different.

Second, decide whether you are going to keep honorifics.  This issue tends to make purists go bonkers... but a good rule of thumb is, if it is based in Japan, keep them.  If it isn't based in Japan or an oriental culture, don't. 

Another issue... one that is probably going to pop up a lot.  Line consistency and line awkwardness.  A lot of translators don't take context into account when translating, so if you find inconsistencies between lines in a scene, mark it down and ask for clarification.  Many translators also go to insane lengths to keep the entire meaning of a sentence in every last detail, including the 'rhythm' in their translation.  Unfortunately, this frequently results in grammatical abominations.  Be prepared for a fight with your translator if he is attached to his work, because no one likes reading awkward lines, but no translator likes to see meaning cut out of a sentence.  Often, simply rewording the sentence is sufficient (I dunno how many times, as a translation-checker, I've simply rearranged a sentence to make it sound like real English), but sometimes you really do have to rewrite the line because it just makes no grammatical sense (ask any editor on a fansub project and they'll probably nod to this). 

Don't be afraid to break up run-on sentences.  Japanese allows for much longer strings of concepts in a single sentence than English does, and I've actually run across sentences in Japanese that have gone on for five or six lines before concluding.   The natural tendency for a translator is going to be to try to replicate this in English, but that won't work *states this bluntly*  If it looks like a stream of thought is continuing across multiple lines, it is perfectly fine to rearrange the order of them, if the new order works better.  Readability is important.

Implied subjects pop up a lot in Japanese... and as a result, you'll probably come across a lot of lines where the translator might have completely misunderstood who the subject of the sentence was, because he failed to take the entire context of the series of lines into consideration.  If this occurs, ask your translator to go over it again, pointing out inconsistencies that bothered you.  Some translators are too stone-head stubborn to do this, but a good translator will be willing to accept they might have made a mistake. 

Last of all... my condolences for picking one of the most thankless jobs in the fantranslation community.

Edit: One nasty little secret translators tend to use any excuse not to speak about...

Spoiler

We HATE going back over our own translations.  This is why an extra translator to do tlc or at least help the editor is a good idea.  When you aren't getting paid, it is agonizing to think about going back to your hours and hours of labor to fix a mistake at the behest of anyone, and editors are almost always the guys who pull the short straws in cases like this.  A lot of translators will insist that the line is correct no matter what, simply to get it out of the way, without examining it closely, as a result of this feeling.  I used to react that way... now I just say openly that I hate going back over my own work, lol.

Edit2: There is a lot more that I could say, but this is all from the two perspectives I've experienced most often, translator and translation-checker.  With anime it isn't so bad, but with VNs, the difficulty level for an editor increases exponentially simply because you have to keep track of so many different factors.  Also... how is your prose?  That is going to be important when dealing with narrative.  I don't know how many editors I came across over the years that could write lines that were perfect grammatically but were pure s*** as prose... the same for translators.

Edited by Clephas
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34 minutes ago, Clephas said:

Mmm... Decay or Poltroon would probably be better advisors on this matter.  However, I can give you a few pieces of advice.

Before I address anything else, allow me to thank you for taking the time to write up your post. There's so much helpful information that I think you may give these Decay and Mr. Poltroon fellows a run for their money! I'm very grateful.

39 minutes ago, Clephas said:

Many translators also go to insane lengths to keep the entire meaning of a sentence in every last detail, including the 'rhythm' in their translation.  Unfortunately, this frequently results in grammatical abominations.  Be prepared for a fight with your translator if he is attached to his work, because no one likes reading awkward lines, but no translator likes to see meaning cut out of a sentence.  Often, simply rewording the sentence is sufficient (I dunno how many times, as a translation-checker, I've simply rearranged a sentence to make it sound like real English), but sometimes you really do have to rewrite the line because it just makes no grammatical sense (ask any editor on a fansub project and they'll probably nod to this). 

This is one of the things I've been able to independently identify as a weak point of mine, actually. I have quite a bit of trouble identifying when a change cuts out too much, when I'm not "naturalising" a line enough in an effort to retain the translator's / the original line's meaning, and just keeping a good balance between the two in general. Responses to my edits in the minor projects I mentioned were mostly mixed, with generally well-received edits but also a sizable amount of ones that swing too far in one direction; i.e cutting out too much in an effort to rewrite it, or not changing it enough. I suppose it's something that will come with experience and discussion, but I also don't want to impede a translator with my inexperience... especially now that I know one of their dirty little secrets :lol:

48 minutes ago, Clephas said:

Also... how is your prose?  That is going to be important when dealing with narrative.  I don't know how many editors I came across over the years that could write lines that were perfect grammatically but were pure s*** as prose... the same for translators.

It's a bit difficult to self-assess that without coming across as pompous, but I'd say it ranges from decent to good. It's something I can practice and improve on regardless of whether or not it's a VN in particular that I'm working on. I will not say I am among the finest writers in the world, but I aspire to be and am constantly learning; I require practice, for certain, but I recognise that. I certainly wouldn't call myself pure shit, though! At least, well, I... I hope not!

58 minutes ago, Clephas said:

Last of all... my condolences for picking one of the most thankless jobs in the fantranslation community.

Thank you again for helping progress my journey to thanklessness and pestering translators by making them go over extremely old lines! Among other things, like editing!

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