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[POLL] What's your translation quality cutoff?


What's your translation/localisation quality cutoff?  

59 members have voted

  1. 1. What translation/localisation quality is the minimum you're happy with?

    • 0: Failed partial machine translation. Half the lines are still in Japanese. No one's edited it. The game crashes.
      0
    • 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.
      0
    • 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.
      1
    • 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.
      2
    • 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.
      9
    • 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.
      16
    • 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.
      20
    • 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.
      6
    • 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.
      0
    • 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.
      1
    • 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.
      1
    • I only read Japanese
      3


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This is in response to the repeated discussion we get over and over about what is "good enough" localisation, and the recent discussion about the "toxic" response to fan translations in the community. The ranking is entirely my own, and is meant to be non-linear. It does NOT equate to the quality of the original VN, and editing has intentionally been included as part of the ranking for simplicity, even though you may get seriously skewed better quality in either translation (unlikely) or editing. Note this is mostly about fan translations, as I think it's fair to be more critical of official localisations but if you want to comment on those perhaps put in a comment. Sorry if the poll is long, I wanted the options to be very descriptive.

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I ignored the part about "localization" and voted as if it covers fanTLs as well. 4) is the least I'd be willing to read through. As you go up through these options, you'll notice that way less and less translations of those qualities are available in the western world. If I only looked for VNs with 9) I'd never have anything to read (and I'd be forced to read and reread maybe 5 VNs that may exist with that TL quality).

Edited by Infernoplex
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Just now, ittaku said:

Interesting... what are the 5 localisations that you think are a 9?

I haven't read enough VNs to judge that yet. That's why I said "that may exist". I remember Decay made a thread on Fuwa about his opinion on TL quality for a selection of VNs. I haven't read Grisaia, so I cannot confirm it's a 9), but according to popular opinion, it may very well fit. Also, another possible 9) could be Majo Koi Nikki. Knowing who worked on it, I think it may come out as a work of real literature. I guess we'll know once Sekai releases it for everyone to see. Aside from these two... I'm not sure what other titles could be a 9). Oh, Symphonic Rain maybe? Haven't read that one either, so can't say it's my opinion. As for the titles I have read so far, none of them is a 9). Closest would be SubaHibi (I consider it a number 7 in this list), Dies irae (between 6 and 7 maybe... due to a ton of QC issues it had) and Swan Song (I am not sure where I'd put this one... I read it in the time where I haven't cared too much about quality, but from what I remember, it was an okay translation... maybe 6 or 7).

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for fantranslations option 6-7 should be plenty (unless people wanting to sell it), but seriously now anything other than point 9 shouldn´t be acceptable to no one sane coming to professional works, heck since whatever company decides on making money with title xy, it´s automatically every customers right to only expect the very best. period.
also as a paying individual i couldn´t care less about any potentially horrendous work expenses, no being profitable any more, or whatever complaint there is when them trying to max out its quality. if no having the means of doing things right, it´s from my point better no getting started at all.
in all honesty if 3 or more passes of edits are neccessary, then it´s everyones right to expect it being done, such is the way of professionalism. no whiny blabla like in leylines or chrono clocks case about it no earning them enough money to warrant such things. personally i´m somewhat content with patches for technical reasons, but having to do so even once when wanting to enjoy a good read simply gets me raging...

Edited by SaintOfVoid
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33 minutes ago, SaintOfVoid said:

but seriously now anything other than point 9 shouldn´t be acceptable to no one sane coming to professional works, heck since whatever company decides on making money with title xy, it´s automatically every customers right to only expect the very best. period.

I agree in principle too. However, I would say of the officially localised releases I've seen or bought, not a single one would get a 9 - most are 6-8, whereas scarily, I've seen stuff that would get a 1 (which fortunately I haven't bought). I agree that 6 or 7 is fine for a fan translation as well - if they're planning on selling it, they're only really selling the translation and it should be the job of the pro company to spruce it up to at least an 8.

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I don't see an option for an excellent writer (great editing?) with an elementary/intermediate understanding of Japanese.  Mastery of the target language is more important for translation than command of the source language.  The worst manual translations are often made by Japanese natives.  The translations are correct but aren't something anyone except the diehard fans would want to read.

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9 minutes ago, sanahtlig said:

I don't see an option for an excellent writer (great editing?) with an elementary/intermediate understanding of Japanese.  Mastery of the target language is more important for translation than command of the source language.  The worst manual translations are often made by Japanese natives.  The translations are correct but aren't something anyone except the diehard fans would want to read.

Find the value that most matches what you think is most important then, as both scale up in the descriptions. It was overly complex as it was; splitting up the editing and translation components would have rendered the poll impossible. I said as much in my opening post. Obviously no one rating could possibly cover all possibilities, but I listed them as I've seen releases.  It's really rare to see a perfectly accurate translation with a shithouse edit, while I've seen valiant efforts at editing on shithouse translations... Alternatively, we could try and debate on what would constitute an ideal set of rankings? This was just something I knocked up in 5 mins.

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23 minutes ago, ittaku said:

Find the value that most matches what you think is most important then, as both scale up in the descriptions. It was overly complex as it was; splitting up the editing and translation components would have rendered the poll impossible. I said as much in my opening post. Obviously no one rating could possibly cover all possibilities, but I listed them as I've seen releases.  It's really rare to see a perfectly accurate translation with a shithouse edit, while I've seen valiant efforts at editing on shithouse translations... Alternatively, we could try and debate on what would constitute an ideal set of rankings? This was just something I knocked up in 5 mins.

Your poll is fine for what it is, but I would take caution in the interpretation of the results.  Your descriptions pigeonhole users in very obvious ways into the current top-ranked choice.  You're not actually gauging what people think, but what YOU think (which is also interesting, to be fair).

Also, I know this didn't take you 5 min because it took longer than that to read it.

Edited by sanahtlig
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50 minutes ago, ittaku said:

I agree in principle too. However, I would say of the officially localised releases I've seen or bought, not a single one would get a 9 - most are 6-8, whereas scarily, I've seen stuff that would get a 1 (which fortunately I haven't bought). I agree that 6 or 7 is fine for a fan translation as well - if they're planning on selling it, they're only really selling the translation and it should be the job of the pro company to spruce it up to at least an 8.

this basically stems from companies no hiring real professionals. granted there´s some editors around gifted with good skills, having previously worked in journalism or whatnot, but let´s be honest most aren´t. an a-grade amateurs work is 99% going to be inferior to his/hers b-grade professional pendant

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9 minutes ago, sanahtlig said:

Your poll is fine for what it is, but I would take caution in the interpretation of the results.  Your descriptions pigeonhole users in very obvious ways into the current top-ranked choice.  You're not actually gauging what people think, but what YOU think (which is also interesting, to be fair).

Kinda true. If it wasn't for the bit about critical plot points, 4 would be my limit for a non-serious (making a career is not even crossing the translator's mind) fantranslation.

Edited by onorub
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38 minutes ago, sanahtlig said:

Your poll is fine for what it is, but I would take caution in the interpretation of the results.  Your descriptions pigeonhole users in very obvious ways into the current top-ranked choice.  You're not actually gauging what people think, but what YOU think (which is also interesting, to be fair).

Indeed, but within the framework of what I think it's still interesting to see how other people view it. Every poll will always be subjective, but at least with obvious steps in the ranking, we can make comparisons between people's opinions. I chose the rating system around the value 5/10 being where the plot is intact (but not much else.) I personally voted a 6 for what it's worth because an intact plot but sloppy writing drives me insane so a 5 would kill me, but 6 is "good enough" for fan charage translations (which is all I read). I'd vote an 8 for official localisations. Alas the last official one I bought wasn't even a 7 (yes I'm looking at you SP.) And yes, even though I read in Japanese, it's still a lot less effort to read in English so I probably read 1 in 5 VNs in English now. I'm almost certain that those that read more plot heavy and literary works by virtue of the material would expect even higher quality since more of the experience is the writing and less is the fapping romance.

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15 minutes ago, ittaku said:

Indeed, but within the framework of what I think it's still interesting to see how other people view it. Every poll will always be subjective, but at least with obvious steps in the ranking, we can make comparisons between peoples' opinions. I chose the rating system around the value 5/10 being where the plot is intact (but not much else.) 

If I wanted to study the issue systematically, I'd probably break down the issue into its components and individually assess these.  For example:

  • Literal accuracy (Is that what this line means?)
  • Contextual accuracy (Was the context correctly conveyed?  Did the translator understand the source material, inspiration, or cultural references?)
  • Flow (Do sentences read well to an English native?  Do the words and ideas trip over each other, confusing the reader or encouraging the reader to skim rather than read?  Does the writing avoid useless repetition?)
  • Style (Does the writing style match the setting?  Are character quirks captured well?  Are honorifics deployed in accordance with the user's expectations?)
  • Spelling/grammar

You'll probably find that readers have different tolerances for shortcomings in each component.  In some cases, users may actually have opposing ideas on what is even "best".

Edited by sanahtlig
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12 minutes ago, ittaku said:

Honorifics anyone?

I know some users get very upset when a translated line doesn't match the voices.  Others don't really care as long as it makes sense and the conversations are coherent and consistent.  Still others fixate on how terminology is translated and get very passionate about it, even begging their boss on their hands and knees to let them translate a term a given way.

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10 hours ago, Benji Price said:

This brings one question to me... According to these values Dies Iraes project would deserve no less than 9 to me. I really enjoyed the VN and often re-read many scenes the same way I re-watch my favourite movies. How would someone knowledgable rate it ??

some unfortunate wordings aside, i´d give it a good 8. this is because there were quite a lot of different translators doing the script and even though it´s been thoroughly edited the product as a whole feels a little bit inconstent given different styles. granted an average reader most probably won´t even notice some minor inconsistencies in writing, but this is hypotetically speaking. there´s way way worse examples of such out there, most of which people been happy with regardless

Edited by SaintOfVoid
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I'm not sure what you mean by 9. Make it look like a western setting as good as possible or just have characters speak english in a natural way?

Not too comfortable either way as it clashes with the voiced lines. 5 is the lowest i'd accept and 7 or 8 sounds reasonsble for good translators, but shying away from it being originally japanese seems wrong to me, and occasionally clashes with events in the games. 

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14 minutes ago, Stormwolf said:

I'm not sure what you mean by 9. Make it look like a western setting as good as possible or just have characters speak english in a natural way?

No, I mean that it's written in such a way in English that all cultural aspects of Japan come across perfectly well despite the use of perfectly natural English language. Characters should have their personality portrayed perfectly as well.  I'm not talking about making it sound like it's in England or the USA.

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