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So I recently got interested into translation and stuff. I wanted to know about how skilled one person that needs to be so that he can be a translator for the current project. I know how to read Hiragana and Katakana as well as some words that are Japanese. I am also curious as to how much Kanji is important for translators. There are apps that you can just draw it and then just type in the hiragana and katakana so you can translate it. I wonder if you need to be fast because using apps and drawing the kanji there would be slow.

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A translator must be able to understand what they are reading, beyond just being able to look up a word in a dictionary. If your version of understanding the source text is nothing more than looking it up word by word in a dictionary, you will be doing the same as a machine translation would do. So, before you consider becoming a translator for a real project, you should get better at understanding the language in general, which is really only done by studying a lot, and reading natively written Japanese texts etc.

In terms of how much kanji you need to know, that depends on what you're going to translate, and how serious you are about it. An official translator must know at least the 常用漢字 (common use kanji), and preferably even more, to truly comprehend what they are reading.

But, for fan translators, the main part to focus on is the general understanding of the grammar and such in whatever you are translating. Looking up a kanji compound is significantly easier than learning an entirely new piece of grammar. Additionally, as many grammar forms in Japanese have many different meanings, without the proper knowledge, you could easily pick the wrong meaning/ usage when you simply look the grammar form up on the internet.

So, first and foremost, it is important that you are capable of reading and understanding what you are translating. (So, if you want to translate a visual novel, start by reading the entire thing, and make sure you are capable of understanding it all. If you are, you can start looking into translating it.) Translating something without having read it first is never a good idea, anyways, as you'll be missing out on potentially important context etc.

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27 minutes ago, Dergonu said:

A translator must be able to understand what they are reading, beyond just being able to look up a word in a dictionary. If your version of understanding the source text is nothing more than looking it up word by word in a dictionary, you will be doing the same as a machine translation would do. So, before you consider becoming a translator for a real project, you should get better at understanding the language in general, which is really only done by studying a lot, and reading natively written Japanese texts etc.

In terms of how much kanji you need to know, that depends on what you're going to translate, and how serious you are about it. An official translator must know at least the 常用漢字 (common use kanji), and preferably even more, to truly comprehend what they are reading.

But, for fan translators, the main part to focus on is the general understanding of the grammar and such in whatever you are translating. Looking up a kanji compound is significantly easier than learning an entirely new piece of grammar. Additionally, as many grammar forms in Japanese have many different meanings, without the proper knowledge, you could easily pick the wrong meaning/ usage when you simply look the grammar form up on the internet.

So, first and foremost, it is important that you are capable of reading and understanding what you are translating. (So, if you want to translate a visual novel, start by reading the entire thing, and make sure you are capable of understanding it all. If you are, you can start looking into translating it.) Translating something without having read it first is never a good idea, anyways, as you'll be missing out on potentially important context etc.

Shouldn't understanding Japanese be a given? If anything, I'd argue what makes a translator is his writing ability. Any JOP can read japanese no problem, but few can craft a masterpiece like moogy-dono.

Edited by kokoro
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I would like to second what Dergonu posted. I don't personally have a thorough knowledge about translating but learning Japanese I could atleast perhaps give you a tip or two of my own experience so far (when did I get a whole two years into this thing?). I generally think it is a good way to start fairly early with the kanji and getting over the daunting task of even learning what the individual kanji mean (Remembering The Kanji, by Heisig, is an option I would recommend which goes through the aforementioned common use kanji that Dergonu mentioned). This may be somewhat controversial but I found that learning the individual kanji really helped getting a grasp of the general meaning of the words outside of it just looking like scribbles (some seem to point out that most compound words (words with more than one kanji) in JP don't make any sense when considering the individual kanji but I would not really agree with this since I, after having gone through RTK twice, generally can understand the meaning of compound two kanji words even without getting what the full translation is into English). It may also only be for smaller things when you are translating a full VN, but sometimes the individual kanji too carry a lot of meaning in an end of itself, for example in place or personal names or combined kanji words (with 4 or more kanji). 

In my experience with grammar I would recommend, of course, getting a bit of a ground too in this by reading grammar guides (there exist loads on the Internet, and many that are free), like Tae Kim's grammar guide and Jay Rubin's "Making Sense of Japanese: What the Textbooks Don't Tell You" (this one is not free). Aside from this I would also recommend reading, reading and reading, perhaps it is just me but generally grammar and learning words don't help me much if I don't actively see and use them. I would also recommend coming back to these grammar guides if something worries you or makes you question yourself in writing or reading even if it is a considerable time after having read about it (like が and は). 

A third thing I would perhaps like to add is the use of some kind of memory tool, there exist loads, but generally people tend to use in my experience Memrise or Anki (Anki being the one I use). These can both work as a learning tool and a remembering tool (for the aforementioned RTK for example), there existing, so called, decks with words that you can learn and options to make you able to create your own deck with words that you seem to forget or want to learn (perhaps taken from literature or online in works that you have read). This way you never truly get out of sync with the material that you see, and when you see it outside of the memory tools it reminds you of the word that you have learned or are learning, thereby reminding you of its meaning.

Lastly good luck, it may seem daunting but always remember that what you are doing is for something fun down the line! :) 

Edited by Weiterfechten
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i mean, moenovel gets paid for their shit tls so how much worse can you do? so long as the final work is cohesive and remains true to the final translation, you should be good. dont be like grisaia and add shit you think would make the scene funnier or better. thats you projecting your own standards on others work.

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Raw translation requires at least a solid grasp of Japanese grammar (grammar being all-important), the ability to write comprehensible English prose, and the ability to transfer the meaning from the Japanese grammar system to the English one.  I'm going to be straight with you... if you can't at the very least play the average charage without even once referring to a dictionary, you shouldn't be translating VNs.  I don't mean skimming it either... I mean understanding every sentence without having to spend a minute thinking about it.  There are plenty of people who play VNs in Japanese who don't have this level of comprehension, so don't think that just because you can play the VNs while using a parser and occasional mechanical translation aids that you can translate a VN.

If you want to one day become a translator, your first task, above all other things, is to master the grammar.  Just learning words doesn't mean anything when it comes to translation.  In addition, even if you don't memorize all the kanji (something very few Japanese ever manage), you need to be able to grasp how kanji go together to form words on a gut level, not just an intellectual one.  If you can't tell by the context and the kanji when a different meaning of the same phonetic phrase is being used, then you will repeatedly make the same mistakes.

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5 hours ago, kokoro said:

Shouldn't understanding Japanese be a given? If anything, I'd argue what makes a translator is his writing ability. Any JOP can read japanese no problem, but few can craft a masterpiece like moogy-dono.

I completely disagree with this. Just because you can read a VN raw doesn't mean you are good enough to pick up on everything you need to understand in order to make a proper translation. Writing is the task of the editor and not that important for a translator as long as the writing is good enough for the editor to pick up the meaning. Darbury wrote why it's important that translator and editor have to be two different people.

Also it's highly debatable if Moogy delivers masterpieces. He is of the idea that a translation is a localization, meaning it has to be Americanized. This mean intentionally rewriting parts of the script to make it adapt to American culture rather than trying to tell the same story. He defended the choice of "translating" Urashima Tarou to Rip van Winkle in Ever17. The problem is that the main point in that scene is the fact that Urashima is under water. Rip van Winkle is in a mountain and hence the "plot" for that scene is gone. He is the master, meaning he is by definition right, even if it is him against 20 people, regardless of who those people are. His outbursts towards people not finding his views flawless eventually resulted in him being banned on VNDB.

3 hours ago, 1P1A said:

I doubt anyone would disagree with this.

I just did. You too seems to have mixed up translator and editor.

1 hour ago, Clephas said:

If you want to one day become a translator, your first task, above all other things, is to master the grammar.  Just learning words doesn't mean anything when it comes to translation.

I once stated that grammar seems to be the most important thing to study when trying to read Japanese for the first time. You can get furigana in romaji or hiragana, meaning you can do without knowing either kanji or hiragana. Dictionaries takes care of vocabulary. The one thing you can't get help with is grammar, meaning that is something I would recommend focusing on early. I took a lot of flaming for that one because apparently some people claim grammar is not all that important.

"Bob's key does work", "Bob's key doesn't work", "Key's Bob does work". I would like to see people honestly claiming that it doesn't matter which version of that sentence you read. You will have problems like this if you try to read Japanese without proper grammar skills.

It should be noted that my talk about skipping out on kanji and possibly even hiragana was the answer to "what is the minimum Japanese you have to know before you can read anything". The skills required to actually translate is a completely different story. However I still wanted to mention it here because it seems that there is some disagreement about how important grammar is. I don't really get why because what makes a language into a language is grammar. When comparing two languages, if the grammar differs, they are two languages even if they share all the words. If two languages share the grammar, they are dialects even if they use different words. Grammar is the definition and the building blocks of a language while words aren't.

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5 minutes ago, tymmur said:

He is of the idea that a translation is a localization, meaning it has to be Americanized. This mean intentionally rewriting parts of the script to make it adapt to American culture rather than trying to tell the same story.

Maybe you should put a banana next to your bed so you don't die next night 卍

Did anyone understand that? Probably not. This is why you do localization not translation.

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14 minutes ago, tymmur said:

 Writing is the task of the editor and not that important for a translator as long as the writing is good enough for the editor to pick up the meaning. Darbury wrote why it's important that translator and editor have to be two different people.

Good luck waiting for a good enough editor willing to "write" your loli project then my brethren. Most people aren't into lolis sold to a brothel.

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^ well,

But hell, I kind of agree with the availability point. Some time ago I was looking at the translation bounties on exhentai for something to tl, and this really attractively bountied one had been on the list for a long while. It was kinda weird to my degenerate self, but I guess it being and old guy and a loli turned most people off, lol.

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5 minutes ago, kokoro said:

Good luck waiting for a good enough editor willing to "write" your loli project then my brethren. Most people aren't into lolis sold to a brothel.

What did you just say about lolis sold to a brothel, Kokoro? I'll have you know I graduated top of my English Literature class at the University of Miami, and have over 50 confirmed credits as a visual novel editor. I am trained in English and I am well known as one of the top editors on Fuwanovel. As we speak I am contacting my network of experts across the internet right now to assemble and work on Musumaker together so you better prepare for the patch, maggot. If only you knew what kind of lolige your "clever" little comment was about to bring onto the world, maybe you would haven't clicked on "Submit Reply". But you couldn't, you didn't, and now the entire VN community will pay the price.

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16 minutes ago, Zakamutt said:

^ well,

But hell, I kind of agree with the availability point. Some time ago I was looking at the translation bounties on exhentai for something to tl, and this really attractively bountied one had been on the list for a long while. It was kinda weird to my degenerate self, but I guess it being and old guy and a loli turned most people off, lol.

You da MVP zaka.

14 minutes ago, StrategyMasterz said:

Well everything aside, I would like to thank you all for telling me all your ideas I've got it now.

megumemers

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35 minutes ago, kokoro said:

Good luck waiting for a good enough editor willing to "write" your loli project then my brethren. Most people aren't into lolis sold to a brothel.

That's kind of a personal attack unrelated to the thread. Besides it's based on the false assumption that I can't attract editors at all. Having said that, the script size is so big that I wouldn't mind getting more people for any task.

Besides based on what you wrote, I assume you haven't actually read the VN. Usually people need to read a VN to know the story, but this one appears to be different and people feel free to show up with outbursts without knowing anything about the plot. The actual plot is a lot different from what you imagine.

44 minutes ago, Kiriririri said:

Maybe you should put a banana next to your bed so you don't die next night 卍

Did anyone understand that? Probably not. This is why you do localization not translation.

Just like it's an issue when there is no localization at all, it will be a problem if there is too much. When something is localized, the question is also how to make it. Do you try to explain the Japanese concept in translation notes, do you make the text more verbose, possibly with extra lines or do you rewrite the story? You have to make a choice each time an issue shows up. Making up your own contents is a dangerous path to take and will for sure result in flaming for translation quality issues.

Edited by tymmur
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On 27/04/2018 at 8:16 PM, StrategyMasterz said:

ermm, what does that mean? :lol:

Probably referencing this:

From KonoSuba:

EXPLOSION: The sole spell in Megumeme’s arsenal, which she can only cast once a day. Cast with an overly-long incantation punctuated by an Engrish pronunciation of the word “explosion”, the spell is a common “mark-out” moment for many fans. “EXPLOSION” is commonly spammed in the comments sections for KonoSuba-related material online.

Basically, you sparkled a flaming. Nothing wrong with that once in a while, though. Specially since it was not your intention (just like the character in question).

Edited by AstralSword
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