Comments on the translation

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#1 by sanahtlig
2016-05-02 at 23:22
< report >I've heard concerns about the translation, articulated by gabezhul below in the GD thread.

Also, I have heard some extremely alarming things about the translation. Along the lines of "localization" and "changing all references to Buddhism into Christianity" and such. Some even say the translation is so liberal it is practically a rewrite of the original. Is there anyone around here who can comment on that?

As I've read through, I've kept a log of my impression of the translation and example lines I disagreed with. I've posted this log on Fuwanovel.

Hopefully my efforts can catalyze some useful discussion not only of the translation of Seinarukana itself, but perhaps of general flaws with the methodology used to translate VNs.

My Seinarukana translation notes
(note: best viewed in Chrome)Last modified on 2016-05-02 at 23:23
#2 by harleyquin
2016-05-03 at 00:02
< report >Ever thought of working for these people instead of just making comments from the side? If you get paid for the job (which doesn't seem like too much work), then it's a win for all if you do a decent job with the proof-reading and editing.
#3 by dk382
2016-05-03 at 00:03
< report >
(which doesn't seem like too much work)
That's a good joke.
#4 by harleyquin
2016-05-03 at 00:17
< report >I'm serious actually. All of the errors pointed out aren't game-breaking mistakes, but anyone who's passed the proficiency exams to a reasonable level of competency wouldn't be making the errors in the first place.

There's also the issue of squeezing the Latin alphabet into space constraints for a completely different family of languages which as pointed out accounts for some of the translation errors. But if the translators and proof-readers are on the same page, it's not an issue that's completely intractable.
#5 by sanahtlig
2016-05-03 at 01:12
< report >I could edit (Garejei and Conjueror tested me and they said I did a reasonably good job, though not up to their standards). TLC'ing professionally is probably beyond my current capabilities. Or at least, I'm far too slow at it because I'm not fluent. Professional work is more so about throughput than quality.

If they wanted to give me free games I'd proofread the dialogue for translation errors and fix what I notice. But given JAST's handling of Starless (fans volunteered to fix the typos and their fixes were never implemented), I think such efforts would go to waste.

For now, I'm translation-checking dialogue mostly as an exercise to show I can and to work on my Japanese. It's very much a learning process. TL accuracy doesn't get much attention because it's hard for readers who don't understand JP to notice, and that's why I feel it's worthwhile to highlight. English readers might notice that the dialogue doesn't flow well or that a remark seems out of place, but they won't know whether that's a TL issue, a problem in the original, or simply their own misunderstanding. It's very unfortunate, as I think correcting TL errors is much more important than fixing typos to the overall experience.Last modified on 2016-05-03 at 02:17
#6 by harleyquin
2016-05-03 at 01:39
< report >Doing this as an exercise to improve your capabilities in the language is fine and all, but I thought you'd be better/faster with what you've done if you're capable of transcribing what you hear or have the original script at hand.

Others might have more constructive feedback than what I can give since I don't really care what English adaptations come up with.

The name Garejei sounds familiar. I think he/she maintains a blog which frequently does reviews on Light games and the Muramasa series. If memory serves me, that translator's primary language isn't English either so it's strange that you're being damned with faint praise.
#7 by sanahtlig
2016-05-03 at 02:06
< report >Conjueror and Garejei are two of the most respected translators in the VN translation scene. Garejei has a Master's Degree in English literature, if I remember correctly. Not being a native speaker is a handicap as an aspiring writer, but one that can be overcome with intensive study.
#8 by sanahtlig
2016-05-03 at 04:21
< report >Another problematic line I came across:

Elder Ngi: 放っておけ。奴らにはなにも出来ぬ。絶対にな。
Ignore them. Do nothing to them. Absolutely nothing.
Leave them be. We can't do anything about them. Anything at all.

The Elder is expressing resignation, not bossing Ruptuna around. This is clear from context, as well as the grammar. If he were giving Ruptuna a command, he would've used the imperative "dekiru na". Combined with the previous error, the translation is depicting the Elder as irritable and bossy, which is utterly false. He's like the soft-spoken parent to a teen going through her rebellious phase.

The Elder's lines are riddled with errors in general. There's been mistakes in every dialogue with him so far, and the scenes are really short. As a result, I end up second-guessing everything he says because the English lines are pretty distorted.Last modified on 2016-05-03 at 13:03
#9 by kiru
2016-05-03 at 09:02
< report >The second sentence has nothing to do with giving a command, but with the (probably) right translation "We can't do anything about them". Making that imperative would lead to something completely different, so I don't know what you are talking about.

I'd actually consider this absolutely correct.
Perhaps the translation is a bit free, as the third sentence doesn't get translated at the end or whatever, but else?
#10 by sanahtlig
2016-05-03 at 10:13
< report >To clarify the format I'm using:
1) Japanese as transcribed by me from the voices
2) Official English translation
3) My translation

"Do nothing to them" is an order telling Ruptuna not to do something. I don't think that's accurate to the original JP (either literally or in spirit), and it conflicts with the Elder's personality.Last modified on 2016-05-03 at 10:14
#11 by kiru
2016-05-03 at 11:13
< report >Ah okay, I thought both lines together are the TL.

Okay, in that case, both are kinda wrong I feel. It's true, the second one isn't imperative. The last sentence however is probably related to the first one, to make sure they don't do anything. As in "don't talk back to me!".

But regardless of that, the official translation is definitely wrong. Luckily it only excludes a bit of information, because the "imperative", or rather the order, is definitely a thing as far as I can see. It's just a more casual one. Like reprimanding, rather than bossing around.Last modified on 2016-05-03 at 11:13
#12 by gabezhul
2016-05-03 at 11:45
< report >^ No, not really. The character speaking is completely resigned. The important part is not that he is telling Ruputna what to do, it's that he is expressing his feelings that it wouldn't matter what they would do, so they might as well do nothing. So no, he is neither "bossing" or "reprimanding"; he is moping.
#13 by kiru
2016-05-03 at 12:00
< report >And that's how you see how voice-acting can completely alter a line. Errors like this are rather common, simply because TLC within the game including the voices is just not done. Because the line, from the writing, definitely sound like an "order".
But eh, given that the line also has an error that shouldn't happen without voices..
#14 by sanahtlig
2016-05-05 at 17:37
< report >A scene from the end of Ch. 3 that shows how important information is just dropped from the line.

Sol: 望むたちが戦力にならないとでも言うのか。何処かの誰かさんよりはよっぽど戦力になっているだろう。
You're saying they're not going to fight for us? It's not like we're just going to trip over anybody stronger than them.
Are you saying Nozomu and the others won't be useful as fighters?  They're a lot more useful than someone I know [Salles]...

Note that Thalia responds with an insult because Sol insulted the guy she has a crush on (Solles).  Without that context, her insult seems to come out of nowhere.  It seems like the translator just dropped the information because he didn't understand the reference. -.-Last modified on 2016-05-05 at 17:38
#15 by overmage
2016-05-05 at 17:56
< report >I think the bigger question here is: How does one translate 戦力にならない as "not going to fight for us"? This is not a particularly ambiguous expression, and even if the translator were unfamiliar with the term 戦力 they should at least have heard of 力にならない and guessed from there.
#16 by harleyquin
2016-05-05 at 18:12
< report >Agreed. Even without the game's context it's clear someone dropped the ball (translator or editor).

Another reason for anyone keen on this medium to actually learn the language properly so that there's no need to rely on an adaptation.
#17 by sanahtlig
2016-05-05 at 18:27
< report >If their translator is just going to rush through the script they should at least hire someone to TLC. That's more important than a proofreader, IMO.Last modified on 2016-05-05 at 19:07
#18 by overmage
2016-05-05 at 18:59
< report >>(which doesn't seem like too much work)

Just so I don't come off the wrong way about this, I'm not picking a fight here; this is more of an informative post.

I'm guessing you have not done professional translation before. Put simply, it's a long - *really* long endeavour - a real fucking pain in the ass. A professional translation agency's *speed* translation of a 500 character Japanese essay to English rates 3 hours. (Speed translations are still accurate information-wise, but they are not so good for press releases, copywriting, making novels compellingly readable and so forth. Usually the translator self-TLCs.) 500 characters is not even close to filling one A4 page - not even half, actually. Translation is not always difficult (especially for non-technical texts), but it is always mind-numbingly time-consuming. (I worked for an agency in Japan where nobody there spoke a word of English and they didn't understand this and wanted me to translate a 30-page legal document in 1 week. Thankfully, I am no longer employed there.)

I realise you were referring to TLC, but proper TLC often entails an (albeit rough) re-translation of the original with comparison between your version and the one presented to you, otherwise it's just plain old proofreading. There's no way any sort of translation pass could be "not too much work".Last modified on 2016-05-05 at 19:46
#19 by rusanon
2016-05-05 at 21:36
< report >And to put these numbers into context, average VN is about 900000 Japanese characters. Or, 5400 hours of work, which is 135 full 40 hr/week weeks or 2.5 years.
#20 by sanahtlig
2016-05-05 at 21:58
< report >Here's an approach to roughly estimate how long it takes to TLC from a different direction. Assume the base time is the time it takes to read the English script.

English script: 1x
JP script: 1x (assumes native-level reading speed)
Comparing the English script and JP script: 2x
Retranslating a line: 50x per line (translating is MUCH slower than reading)

Now assume you're retranslating every 10th line. For a 50hr VN, this adds up to 450hrs. That's... significant. That's about 3 months of fulltime work. If you retranslate every 100th line, that's still 200hrs, or 1.5 months of work.Last modified on 2016-05-05 at 21:59
#21 by harleyquin
2016-05-05 at 22:05
< report >Oh I'm well aware of the number of lines, but compared to the translation work one has to do on a professional level (legal documents, project reports etc.) and the deadlines those impose for pay, doing a VN like this where quite a bit of the dialogue is simple everyday speech really is not a lot of work.

I can go through VNs fairly quickly if the work isn't by Light or Type-Moon. I did Xuse's Death March in about a week for one route and that had horrible writing which wasn't tough on vocabulary.
#22 by sanahtlig
2016-05-05 at 22:17
< report >Translating Japanese dialogue is a challenge because it tends to be vague. Rewriting it in English requires correct disambiguation. Most TL errors result from incorrect disambiguation! With technical writing and narration this is less of a problem.Last modified on 2016-05-05 at 22:18
#23 by harleyquin
2016-05-05 at 22:18
< report >Compared to Japanese laws and process flowcharts, everyday speech is a joke to translate. This goes double if it's an average VN with not a lot of unique vocabulary.Last modified on 2016-05-05 at 22:18
#24 by rusanon
2016-05-05 at 22:36
< report >
compared to the translation work one has to do on a professional level (legal documents, project reports etc.) and the deadlines those impose for pay, doing a VN like this where quite a bit of the dialogue is simple everyday speech really is not a lot of work
You have no idea what are you talking about. Translating technical/scientific/legal documents is much easier because everything is formulaic, very formal and excessive. Unless you are not competent in specific field of document, its complete no-brainer.
On other hand "everyday speech" is packed with emotions, stylization, connotations, vagueness and should be translated in a way that would be appropriate for "everyday speech" in target language, you cannot afford being excessive.
#25 by harleyquin
2016-05-05 at 22:51
< report >I suppose you're talking about this from the viewpoint of considerable personal experience to get off lecturing others then.

I've met professional translators and interpreters. The topics they work with are much harder than the average VN and their workload is also higher, for technical work which is "formulaic and excessive" and supposedly a "no-brainer" is something which gives food on their table and certainly isn't done on autopilot contrary to what you're suggesting.