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This toxic attitude regarding translations needs to end.


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Well, one thing's for sure - at least it gives this almost dead forum a topic it can discuss fervently that is actually even relevant to the forum... This discussion should be a sticky that people post to each and every day. I notice everyone says exactly the same things in slightly different ways, over and over. Rinse and repeat. My turn.

If quality of final product ranged from 0 to 10, where 0 was completely incomprehensible machine translation along with bugs introduced into the game, scenes butchered, crashing, and 10 was absolute perfect translation and editing of high literary standard which is indistinguishable from the original Japanese, along with all menus translated, songs karaoked, CGs uncensored etc. then it would be fair to say that almost nothing is a 0 or a 10. Let's call a 5 a passing mark where the original story is conveyed with reasonable accuracy and with some typos and editing oversights. So what we get is a range somewhere in the middle and fan translations can fall anywhere in that spectrum, but so can professional releases. Making an incredible generalisation, fan translations are more likely to end up lower on that scale than official localisations, though anything's possible. So what it comes down to is - what is the cut off that you'd be happy with reading? Everyone would accept a 10 (though some of you still want your mosaics) and no one would accept a 0. Some people would be happy with a 3 or 4 while others with nothing less than a 7 or 8. This means that the most flexible amongst us wouldn't mind more fan translations while the more stringent amongst us won't be happy even with half the official localisations. The complaint is that some of those that only accept an 8 get angry when someone releases a 3 because they do a disservice... to whom? The game? The writers? The localisation companies? The readers? It's not a pirating issue, as those who pirate the JP version (to patch it) will likely pirate the EN version too, so the original makers won't be getting anything either way. A shit release doesn't stop a good release from being made later on. If anything, it's a good fan release that makes an official localisation less likely (unless it gets picked up.)

The question then is should fan translators be encouraged or discouraged if they end up in the 3 or 4 range? Is it helpful or harmful to the community to have these? Do fan translators use this as a stepping stone towards getting better and/or a paid job or try to get their translation picked up, and is this healthy or not for the VN scene? I think the fan translation scene is an essential part of the past, present, and future of VNs until the day we get simultaneous multi-language releases of VNs the way anime does - and that's actually far less likely to happen due to the sheer volume of VN releases and the turnaround time to translate them, unlike anime. Arguing for the giving and receiving of constructive criticism is great, however there are precious few people who can and will mentor fan translations (as others have pointed out.) The only way to make the fan translation scene healthier is to tackle less projects and have more translators and other staff helping each other. That's not going to happen since there are so few translators and so many things they may personally want to work on, so we continue with the status quo. By the way, does anyone want to help with our translation? :P

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9 minutes ago, ittaku said:

It's not a pirating issue, as those who pirate the JP version (to patch it) will likely pirate the EN version too, so the original makers won't be getting anything either way.

Most of the times, yes, but not always. I bought almost all of my VNs that have official EN release, yet as for fan-TLs, the only one I was able to buy was "ONE" - others were either out of print (older titles like YU-NO) or several times pricier than typical EN release (Koichoco :o!) , often with only physical edition available (with compulsory "for sale in Japan only" disclaimer). If there was official english DL edition of, say, KoiChoco or ToHeart2  ;) or whatever other "unofficial" title I have in my library - I'd buy it. But most of the time official JP versions are for abovementioned various reasons out of reach :(

But thas was kind of OT for this thread, so please excuse me, and back to our regular programming ;)

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10 minutes ago, ittaku said:

Nah I think it's related as we have to understand the reasons someone might go on the attack with poor translations and this is one potential reason...

To be honest, it feels that a lot of "poor translations" could have been avoided if the team (or individual) were more open to constructive feedback and were willing to redo some of their work.
It's definitely time consuming, but isn't it worth it knowing you did your best and learned a thing or two from it?

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24 minutes ago, ittaku said:

Nah I think it's related as we have to understand the reasons someone might go on the attack with poor translations and this is one potential reason...

Ah, it may be so.

Also, I agree with your 0-10 scale. Nice description.

As for reasons somebody gets angry with poor TL released - it may be kind of "disservice" to such reader. I mean - if translation is hard to read, it may serioulsy dampen enjoyment and impact of the story, yet if one decides to wade through it to the end, the story may be "spoiled" for them, so then even if improved release would come out, damage is done and they may lose interest in a game.

But yet again - my experience was different. I experienced only one such case - Konosora. I read Kotori's route from the initial release, then dropped it in the middle of Ageha's route. But when retranslation was released, I reread the whole thing, and enjoyed it. Ironically, in this case it was the official release that was bad, and fan-TL patch that fixed it, so the other way around ;) Also, since I enjoyed Kotori's route even with bad original translation, and wasn't sure then when the patch would be released, that prompted me to start learning Japanese :D

So, what can I say - when you detect signs of poor translation to the point that it gets in your way, better to drop the title and hope for better release in the future? Or, learn you-know-what-language ;)

 

Edited by adamstan
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10 hours ago, Toranth said:

The problem with the idea of a 0 to 10 scale is defining what's in between.

If zero is incomprehensible and 10 is perfect... is a 5 a 50% understandable translation?  Because to me, that'd be as crappy a product as a zero

No, I called it a passable value, meaning it is a good representation of the original story, though with scattered errors that are not critical to the story, and occasional grammar errors and typos. Passable would mean the story is still intact. It's entirely my own made up scale and non-linear, which is why I tried to define what I thought a 5 was in my original post.

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30 minutes ago, ittaku said:

No, I called it a passable value, meaning it is a good representation of the original story, though with scattered errors that are not critical to the story, and occasional grammar errors and typos. Passable would mean the story is still intact. It's entirely my own made up scale and non-linear, which is why I tried to define what I thought a 5 was in my original post.

You called a 5 'passable'.  What's that mean?  To me, obviously, 50% is not passable.  It seems, from your response here, that you would not consider 50% passable either.  However, as you said, some people would consider it passable.  And now you're left with not only a non-linear ranking scale, you've got one that depends on the tastes of the reviewer in multiple categories.

Non-linear, subjective on multiple axes, all before getting to the actual source material?  So much variance that I simply don't think you can make anything useful out of such a measure.  Which means it really isn't worth discussing - it'll just become another argument trigger.

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Okay so since I came up with the scale, I'm making this up as I go to give some sort of concrete description for what numbers from 0-10 would mean. This is a very non-linear scale, and 10 is meant to be impossible. It also covers both translation and editing and obviously some efforts will have better translation and worse editing (and vice versa) so it won't work everywhere.

 

0: Failed partial machine translation. Half the lines are still in Japanese. No one's edited it. The game crashes.

1: Unedited machine translation. It's a complete mystery what most lines are saying, looking more like a dictionary list of words that were used in the original. There is no semblance of the original story.

2: Edited machine translation. Someone with no knowledge of the original language has tried to edit MTL output into comprehensible English. Very little effort is put into correcting grammar. The story still remains incomprehensible.

3: Heavily edited machine translation/beginner Japanese translator with heavy MTL assistance.  Someone with beginner knowledge of Japanese has heavily edited the text to try and make it represent the apparent flow of the story with some effort to make the grammar tolerable. The story can be vaguely followed, though with wild errors.

4: Intermediate level Japanese translator.  Someone has made a decent effort to edit the text to represent the flow of the story and fix grammar. The bulk of the story flow remains intact, but with occasional critical plot points being missed or wrong. Grammar sounds unnatural.

5: Advanced level Japanese translator. A reasonable effort has been made to edit the grammar and text. The entirety of the major plot points remain intact, but with many subtle nuances missed. The grammar often sounds awkward and non-natural. Minor typos are scattered throughout the text with the occasional laughably bad typos.

6: Experienced advanced level Japanese translator. A concerted effort has been made to edit grammar and text. The major plot  points are intact, and a significant number of the subtle nuances are captured. The grammar sounds mostly natural with the occasional awkward sounding line.  Minor typos are scattered but there are no massive blunders.

7: Experienced advanced level Japanese + solid cultural knowledge translator. Generous effort has been made to polish the grammar and text. All the plot is intact, and the bulk of the subtle nuances are captured. Grammar sounds natural and awkward sounding lines are rare. Typos are infrequent.

8: Extensive cultural knowledge. Multiple pass editing. All the plot is intact, all the subtle nuances are captured. Grammar sounds natural and there are no awkward sounding lines. Typos are rare.

9: Brilliant writing. Perfect editing. The writing flows off the screen perfectly naturally in the translated language as though it was never written in Japanese. Cultural references are conveyed effortlessly. No grammar errors or typos to speak of.

10: Did someone stick a babelfish in my ear? I have entered the matrix. Neo: "I know Japanese". You are spiritually transported in time and space as though you've been part of Japanese culture all your life. You are absolutely convinced you are reading Japanese.

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41 minutes ago, Toranth said:

You called a 5 'passable'.  What's that mean?  To me, obviously, 50% is not passable.  It seems, from your response here, that you would not consider 50% passable either.  However, as you said, some people would consider it passable.  And now you're left with not only a non-linear ranking scale, you've got one that depends on the tastes of the reviewer in multiple categories.

Non-linear, subjective on multiple axes, all before getting to the actual source material?  So much variance that I simply don't think you can make anything useful out of such a measure.  Which means it really isn't worth discussing - it'll just become another argument trigger.

Fine, I've elaborated above then. Passable means... well see above. Passable was probably the wrong word for it. It's just when the story remains intact.

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Applies to everything, manga anime LN but for LNs tbh it does need to be halfway decent or i aint reading that, its too hard to understand.

Manga and stuff though people act way too entitled to translation, some manga projects have 2 teams working on it, one does it quick and apparently one does it 'better', i found no damn difference most of the time and am able to understand the story the same either way.

 

As for VNs, as long as its not KonoSora Flyable Heart levels of bad, translation is generally fine, most of Sekai's ones are okay, MG are always good  the recent publishers Nekonyan and Sol Press are also doing it pretty well, There hasnt been a fan translation of a VN in a long time but most of them are readable and i dunno how anyone can complain about it like they are paying the guy or something 

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Well the translation is always attract the debate/discussion, and once again this topic is not the exclusion here. That said, I would say that as long as I understand the translation, then I'm fine with that although that said I'm surely wouldn't want to understand the story through the voice only alone even though there's a translation for that (I'm looking at you Your Diary+ Steam version).

Since Ittaku bring up the scaling if translation, perhaps I should try to say something about it. As for my scaling in regard of translation, well I'm agree that at least the translation should be at 5 for the minimum standard. That said, personally I could try to pushing it lower though, but in that case I could probably only managed to tolerate it at scale 4 with the emphasize on 'the bulk of the story flow remain intact'. It's just my personal opinion though, because each people did have different opinion in regard if the scaling.

Edited by littleshogun
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On 10/7/2018 at 6:20 AM, Thyndd said:

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.

I agree. For me, fan TL even though bad is still much better than no TL at all. I really appreciate all the efforts. But that's not the case when it's commercial. There's a reason why it's commercial.  

Edited by Acrylic7
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