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Happiness+

This toxic attitude regarding translations needs to end.

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Context: a guy I met on Fuwa’s discord was told to end the TL for “his own good” and the translation team did not like him for his one too many jokes. After talking about it with the guy, I realized something. In the anime, manga, Japanese video game worlds, there’s nobody arguing over the purity of a translation, even weirder this doesn’t happen in the Light Novel world either. Light Novels are 100% text, but when translations come, nobody gets into arguments about whose translation is better or whatever. It’s the weirdest thing. Why in the VN community do have such a purity spiral for translation? None of the other mediums of Japanese entertainment have this issue even though they all need to be translated. Even when there’s an official release of a VN, all the fan translaters loose their damn minds. Like... why?

 

I doubt our brothers from the land of the rising sun have such fervor when they translate EVNs. 

 

I think this snobby attitude over translation needs to stop because we’re not going to ever make a “perfect” translation because translation itself is a art not a science. 

 

Personally, look I thought about this before: I am going to bite the bullet and say:

I rather read a bad translation than to never get a translation at all. 

With a bad translation, people can see how it’s bad and someone could make it better. 

I understand that people really care about doing their best, but there’s so many kamiges out there that will remain untranslated.  

The VN fandom is growing, but we’re nowhere near anime levels of mainstream thought, and I think this stupid purity spiral regarding visual novel translations is one of the main reasons why. 

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My guess would be that it is mainly because VNs are more niche and as such have a higher concentration of hardcore otaku than anime, manga and light novels. That being said I do think that there are translations that really deserve ridicule whether it is MTL or something like Libra, but I do feel like some people might be overly critical towards decent translations wanting every translation to be amazing and done by someone who has both perfect fluency in japanese and english as well as the writing capabilities of professional writers.

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I think that if the translator was only by himself, you would be right. 

The thing changes when there are more people involved in the project and probably there are some of them that care about their reputation.
Even more so if it takes a lot of time and effort to complete. 
I don't know the exact situation but if one person goes against all the team or viceversa, probably they shouldn't work together. 

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Huuuuuuuuh... I see many things that are absolutely wrong with your statement. First, really there's no translation quality/choice drama in other otaku niches? I've seen people going apeshit over minor details in anime translations and inconsistencies between the fan and official versions. On the one hand, there'll always be purists that are demanding top quality every time and on the other, there will be botched or poor-quality translation on both the fan and official side of things. The more choice and comparison people have, the more likely they are to criticize underperforming projects - when fan translators were your only hope for playing pretty much any VNs, you were less likely to complain about their work than now, when they compete with a fairly rich selection of professional releases. I things it's even somewhat legit to argue that nowadays there's little sense in translating a VN unless you can do it well.

The second, do you know about many EVNs being translated to Japanese? People actually caring about those? It's a non-topic, but I would be surprised if Japanese VN fans didn't have a problem with poor translations - they aren't used to awful localizations and don't treat them as "facts of life" like Western otakus were forced to by turd-quality products offered to them on a regular basis. Demanding quality seems like a pretty reasonable standard, especially for commercial products. And the VN fandom today is not reliant on fan translations anymore and people's attitudes towards those are not any kind of "crucial barrier" for its growth.

Also, there are many other reasons why fan translations are pretty much dying out - people that once done them professionalizing or moving on with their lives is the main one and there's no going back from this. What's left is the official publishers, and if you suggest we shouldn't take those up to highest scrutiny as their clients, that's pretty much saying you want them to screw you over with subpar services. Well, you're allowed to act against your own self-interest of course, but that doesn't look like a healthy narrative.

Edited by Plk_Lesiak

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20 minutes ago, Thyndd said:

Pretty much what @Plk_Lesiak said. Fan TL? I'll take whatever I can get. Official TLs? They are selling them, so they'd better be good.

I think I'd go a little bit further still. On a 2010 VN market, with barely any official releases, every VN translation was a treasure. On a 2018 VN market, a poor fan translation is arguably pointless excess. I don't say people should be dicks about it, but at this day and age, there's no reason for FTLs to be above scrutiny. SOME quality standards should apply and if the project clearly does not meet those, discouraging the author don't feel like some high crime to me. Even while meaning well you can easily add to the general pile of misery that is VN translation quality - and even without being a purist, such as @Fred the Barber for example, I can tell there's still a huge room for improvement here, also beyond obvious frauds and shit-artists such as SakuraGame or MoeNovel.

Edited by Plk_Lesiak

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3 minutes ago, Plk_Lesiak said:

SOME quality standards should apply and if the project clearly does not meet those, discouraging the author don't feel like some high crime to me.

Yeah I can see that. Though if someone, out of their love for the original work, is doing their best to bring it to the west so we all can share their enthusiasm, I won't be a dick. Even if it's a subpar translation it's not like it's a product. I'd still be grateful for their effort.

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While I'm not a huge purity person when it comes to translations(Not knowing one of the languages involved sees to that) I still expect that there is some sort of quality baseline. I think it is annoying to read through a vn and spot a bunch of easily correctable grammatical errors, and just strange sentence structure. I feel the same way about the manga I read since the bulk of it ain't gonna have a proper release if ever. Also, people like to bitch and moan about everything, this is the internet for Gods sake! While I do appreciate the work that fan tl's put into a vn I expect them to actually put out something of quality.

That way everything will work...https://i.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/newsfeed/000/037/923/keikaku.jpg

Edited by Ranzo

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My prediction: this thread will end in a flamewar about lame people not understanding the sacred language of Japanese.

 

I both agree and disagree with you at the same time. The problem is that we have seen some attempts, which were downright awful to the level where reading the translated and untranslated versions were two completely different stories. You could argue that we could accept rewrites, but the translated ones were not worth reading. The moment we open the gates for "it's translated. It's done" is the day we accept to kill off reading enjoyments from VNs. Editing is another issue. Kill off editing and focus shifts towards making out what it says rather than understanding the plot and enjoying the story.

 

On the other hand if we set the minimum quality requirements too high, then we will end up with no translations at all. It's a balance. We will likely never agree where the acceptable range is, but I suspect it highly depends on the reader's English skills. If you aren't skilled enough to pick up on the difference in different ways to say the same, who cares? If you do know the difference and can make out a lot of the back story, you care if the translation ruins that part. This is not even a matter of native vs non-native English speakers because even native English speakers aren't equally good at reading stuff hinted like this.

 

Another reason why people get upset is because translators/editors just doesn't care. Release something, get the money ASAP. Who cares if people enjoy the end product. It's all about the money. I said some not so nice comments about Maitetsu on that account (though I rarely bash specific titles). The thing is it's a title with a very specific theme, specially railroad/trains. The end result shows it's not a field of expertise of anybody involved with the translation. While it's not great, I guess it's passable. What I objected about is that they have made up words and concepts. My rant included the difficulty level in looking up the right words/concepts on Google and really, if it's something you can look up in 30 seconds or less, you really shouldn't damage the meaning of the scene because you skip doing a background check like that. That's just too low for a paid translation. I think I was fair because I stated I didn't bash anything they missed if Google failed to provide the answer right away.

 

And what was written while I was typing: there is a difference between a free fan tl and a paid translation. If you pay somebody to do something for you, your expectations will and should be higher than what you get from somebody who does something for free and gives it to you for no other reason than him being a nice guy or something like that.

 

22 minutes ago, Plk_Lesiak said:

First, really there's no translation quality/choice drama in other otaku niches? I've seen people going apeshit over minor details in anime translations and inconsistencies between the fan and official versions.

Yeah it sounds like my rant on The Slayers have gone unnoticed. I accidentally watched it with subs and dubs at the same time and I was like "I guess I will do an unplanned comparison". There are lots of minor differences where one version might be as good as the other one and I guess that's to be expected. However around half the lines have a new meaning, frequently making up a new dialogue or even story. Some seem intentional, like removing all references to Lina's boobs (or lack hereof) or altering the spell chant Ï pledge myself to darkness", but most of the changes are just completely different for no apparently reason. Around half the lines differs in meaning way beyond anything anything you could justify as "translation can't map words 1:1". In short: the dub is essentially a rewrite, not a translation and you will not get the same experience as with the subs. In particular jokes and gags have a tendency to vanish in the dub, which is bad for a joke heavy title.

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1 hour ago, bakauchuujin said:

My guess would be that it is mainly because VNs are more niche and as such have a higher concentration of hardcore otaku than anime, manga and light novels. That being said I do think that there are translations that really deserve ridicule whether it is MTL or something like Libra, but I do feel like some people might be overly critical towards decent translations wanting every translation to be amazing and done by someone who has both perfect fluency in japanese and english as well as the writing capabilities of professional writers.

main reason why libra deserves a good bashing does no only stem from its subpar quality, which they´re having fixed route by route, its more mikandi´s attitude towards the whole thing. like first promising backers/customers a very good translation and after everyone + their mothers knew they´ve got scammed fukking hard still defending the scammers work. is it really so damn difficult to openly say "hey we fucked up, cause we got fucked up, because we´re naive retards. sorry everyone"? still calling sth that´s utterly unreadable for the most parts a good read is laughable at best and at worst it´s disrespectful to those who eagerly awaited said title´s release.

edit: @Happiness+ please no more pointless mumbo-jumbo about saying bad translations are better than no translation at all, cause that´s completely shit. a bad translation is labeled bad for a reason, not only because its prose might no be winning nobel prizes and/or lacks emotions. inaccuracy is a thing and getting to read nothing but fanfiction does contradict with you saying "...but there’s so many kamiges out there that will remain untranslated." 

Edited by SaintOfVoid

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I may have agreed with your sentiment a few years ago, but these days we have official translations, and  to be honest I d rather NOT have a translation than a bad one. Case in point the friggin Joke that is the White Album 2 "translation" that mess started 6 years ago bout 5 days after I made my vndb account and its a disaster! I am not so desperate for Visual novels to read that I m willing to stomach whatever shit show thrown my way and neither should anyone else.(mind you i've completed over 160 vns with no end in sight)

Edited by douggle

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I'd love to write to write a longer post, but it's already too late here, so I'll try to keep things short.

Are we talking about fan translations here? Because, yeah, if some VN has literally zero chance to be translated officially, I would be fine even with a relatively bad fan translation, as long as it keeps things readable, as long as there's still something worrh reading in what we have in the end. In the other cases I mostly disagree. To add to what Lesiak said, I believe that if you start to lower the standards, then at some point you'll simply come to the point where even completely ureadable garbage produced by Google translate becomes acceptable, as it is currently in the LN fan translations. Which brings me back to this point:

1 hour ago, Happiness+ said:

Light Novels are 100% text, but when translations come, nobody gets into arguments about whose translation is better or whatever.

I'd personally love it if LN readers we're at least a bit more critical about what they read. 9 out of 10 LN translations are completely unreadable, and most others become unreadable at some point.

Plus this:

28 minutes ago, Plk_Lesiak said:

On a 2010 VN market, with barely any official releases, every VN translation was a treasure. On a 2018 VN market, a poor fan translation is arguably pointless excess.

 

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I think most of the rage is directed to MTL, that is a thing that any one of us here can easily do for free, just get the script and throw it in any translator site you want. Now forming a team, calling themselves a "translation project" and sadly sometimes even charging for this job that any of us not suited for doing it could have done, it's really not hard to see why people get pissed.

Edited by MaggieROBOT

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Anyone charging money for a less than serious translation deserves all the crap they get. I can only use Fureraba as an example since im reading it right now, but do "fucking anyone literally legit think charging money for that literally fucked translation" to be ok? I sure don't. Dont repeat this for your next translations.

Im much less strict on fan translations though. Do your best, make sure the translation is somewhat accurate and not having the reader sit and ponder over every few setences and its all fine. Dont even care about typos.

Edited by Stormwolf

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This just sounds like an excuse people make to read butchered versions of VNs that they'll never be able to truly experience. Sure, there are a lot of good translations out there, but if you don't have any standards, even in the fan-TL scene, you basically get the quality of work we had in the early days of fan-TL. TLs should at least be decent in all facets of the process and it's just sad that people want to be lazy and read bad TLs when there are a lot of good localizations out there to read.

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looking at the posts above they probably said everything that can be said both positive and negative about OP but i want to say something regardless of repetitiveness

1. anime has the lowest thing to translate and sometimes its only voiced and mostly fan translators do that instead of official one that wants to sell those translation

2. manga is same as anime but its more slightly more to translate(?) idk about the LN part tho

3 hours ago, Happiness+ said:

3. " I rather read a bad translation than to never get a translation at all. "

that maybe true if the fan translator did this just to train themselves or aim to share a good vn to people who cant read japanese or just to have some hobby that getting payed isnt their in mind at all (maybe some of them put donation in their page or something) but in this time or maybe 1-2 years ago the rate of official translators rises and they want to sell their translation to people regardless of quality. if thats the case, i rather to never get a translation at all than read a BAD OFFICIAL ONE. they selling a translation so they should get it right.

4. people is gonna be toXic/salty about something if they tried to sell it but maybe thats not the case with fan translation. yes, they may/will criticism but some of people will try to join and help unlike in the official one because money

5. i may be wrong in 1-4 but still.

Edited by wyldstrykr
my english sucks.

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Since I got explicitly called out here, I feel somewhat obligated to comment... I don't think of myself as a purist at all, nor do I think there's such a thing as a perfect translation. I do still think there are both good translations and bad translations, and it doesn't look like that's really being debated here either (though I imagine the defining characteristics of a good translation would be very hotly debated!).

Just to offer two common arguments for "good" translation over "bad" translation which I haven't seen mentioned here:

  1. I think a bad translation is an insult to the original writers. VNs are in fact written by professionals, and the vast majority of those professionals work their ass off to produce something worth reading. I think it's unfair to them to produce a translation which is obviously lower quality than the original. And, why is that...?
  2. A good writer makes the story beats land, makes you giggle at the jokes, and occasionally reduces you to a blubbering mess of tears. If you're basically just reading VNs to see the CGs and the sprites, to listen to the music, and maybe to kind of understand what's going on overall, well, you're entitled to enjoy things the way you want to. But me, I really like reading, and I want to get the same full-color experience when reading a game in English translation that the Japanese readers got reading the original. That means, at a high level, that the logical flow from line to line needs to be maintained, that the result needs to be true in spirit and in content to the original. My go-to example is always that the jokes need to still be funny.

Look, everyone can believe what they want to believe, and I don't think anyone here is going to change their mind. But regardless of what some readers may think, I do think that translators should care about their writing quality. If you think you're translating something and you're not worrying about delivering an equivalent experience, then I think you aren't doing your job.

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Addressing the topic author...

... translation purity is a load of shit.  Good translators of any stripe basically argue over how far they go toward Americanization or retention of Japanese concepts. 

Honestly, speaking as a translator myself, I can say that there is no such thing as a perfect translation or localization.  However, that is no excuse for poor work.  Not everything is possible to translate.  It is a miracle that games like Tokyo Babel and Dies Irae are readable and still relatively enjoyable in English, considering how much of a pain the butt it must have been for the translator to deal with the emotional aspects of his work (for one thing, Dies Irae's preexisting fanbase is full of jaded a-holes like me, so he was going to get bashed regardless of what he did).  I will state this outright: Japanese translation is a pain in the ass as well as an oxymoron.  Japanese doesn't translate, it just gets interpreted into another language with concepts that approximate the meaning while completely missing nuance and subtlety. 

Machine translation is annoying because it doesn't even meet the baseline of a Japanese translation... interpretation of the original material into comprehensible English that doesn't go off into the wilds and ignore all context (this is the baseline of an acceptable but not necessarily good translation/localization).  First, I've yet to encounter a machine translator that consistently produces English sentences that makes sense.  Second, I've yet to encounter a machine translator that succeeded in figuring out the correct kanji conjugations to produce words it needs to translate to another language (thus resulting in some seriously weird outputs).  Furigana parsers just barely manage to pass muster, and even there you have to disregard the suggestions about anywhere from 30%-60% of of the time (meaning a high level of Japanese and English knowledge is necessary, in any case), based on the favored kanji of the writer and the parser's ability to handle unusual kanji choices (all parsers have their quirks). 

 

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I think criticism of translations is fine. But being rude or abusive to people doing their best is pretty unacceptable. I was actually just thinking this myself today seeing response on reddit to White Album 2's closing chapter thing. I can't vouch for how good it is or isn't but it seemed pretty hostile.

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TLDR u all dumb in this thread

Spoiler

願望は二律背反
押し付けの理性なんて信じない
あっちを立てる気もないし
こっちを立てる気だってまるでない
人間関係面倒で及び要
話を聞けば巻き込まれる
良いことなんかあるわけないじゃない
それでも誰かがいなけりゃダメなんだ

 

Edited by Kiriririri

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