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Author Topic: Translations: Verve Fanworks Celebrates the Year of the Rabbit With "Castle" Recruitment Drive  (Read 14784 times)

FaustWolf

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Thanks for looking it over Pennywise. Don't hesitate to point out specific passages that sound especially unnatural, or that you might handle differently as a script editor; another pair of eyes never hurts.

I just know I'm on thin ice when it comes to styling the lines of a character named "Bingli" particularly; the fact that she's an ancient being lends itself to using archaic expression to emphasize that fact, but I still have the feeling I might need to tone down the Ted Woolsey on this one a bit.  :laugh:  I think I'll be revisiting the Alexander O. Smith/Joseph Reeder scripts for inspiration on the issue of formal speech, as I always felt these balanced a medieval flair with readability. Parts of the game are set in the distant past, so there will be entire passages where all characters and NPCs will speak like she does, and I'm worried going full-on Shakespearian will cause a "thee" and "thou" overload the player will be too busy laughing at to be swept into the story -- the need for some kind of expertise in Early Modern English notwithstanding.

Our translation process has gone something like this so far: the bilingual project members provide first and second-pass translations to establish literal meaning and characterization guidelines, and then I go through with an extra pass from the target language perspective. With this much text in a volunteer project, divvying up the work among many translators seems to be the best way to keep the project going; the final target-language pass smooths over variances in English proficiency and hopefully results in a script that feels contiguous. Probably not the most recommended way of going about this - and I wouldn't be surprised if this has never been done before - but I think it's preferable to waiting for a single translator with enough free time to tackle the entire script alone. The translators we've worked with so far have done an excellent job to begin with IMO, so I'm definitely confident we can pull this off.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2011, 02:56:06 am by FaustWolf »
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creeperton

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« Reply #21 on: February 08, 2011, 02:32:37 pm »
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« Last Edit: November 16, 2015, 12:29:49 am by creeperton »

Psychlonic

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I was having a discussion about this online last night with someone who translates numerous articles, mangas, game scenes, etc. and we sort of hit a way of explaining the issue that comes from literal translation. The biggest thing that a lot of people don't seem to realize - and I suspect even a lot of bilingual people haven't even realized - is that Japanese (and this can presumably apply to Chinese as well) is a more direct and immediate representation of the idea to be conveyed. Us English speaking people rely on a systematic language that builds upon itself and needs to adhere to various rules to convey specific images into one's mind, so as a result we have to really look at the words and translate it to an idea in our head. That's why things can look completely ridiculous to us when translated literally, we focus on the words. The ugliness of what has just been said is there because it's words first, ideas second. You can convey that same idea with English words and do so elegantly, but most likely you cannot capture the magic by using a literal translation and must therefore use some artistic liberty to spice up the words that form that image.

Many people who translate literally often lose sight of this because they've already seen the image being conveyed through kanji or whatever and don't seem to understand that for someone who's about to try to get that same image for the first time, the literal translation is going to look ridiculous. The reader most likely won't even be able to get through the entire phrase without laughing at the odd words being used, and that breaks the suspension of belief completely. That, in my opinion, is not a "true" translation. It's a bad one. It's not literal even because the translator failed to carry across that idea - that image - that was there for anyone who understands the original language without invoking a snicker. Did the original invoke a snicker? Probably not.


ANYWAYS, what I'm getting at here is that liberty is almost always needed if you want to carry across the idea. Translation runs deeper than the words. Don't worry about pleasing the literal crowd too much, they either were able to read the original and already have the image anyways, or can only understand English and only think they are being short changed on the translation because they don't understand literal doesn't always work.

My two cents on the matter.
Just another old and grumpy gamer. Don't mind me.

FaustWolf

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Quote from: Psychlonic
ANYWAYS, what I'm getting at here is that liberty is almost always needed if you want to carry across the idea. Translation runs deeper than the words. Don't worry about pleasing the literal crowd too much[...]
Yeah, the goal for this project is to create within the English-speaking player the same reactions that Chinese players would have felt, in a way that appeals to the Western experience. At the same time we're doing our best to retain as much Chinese cultural flavor as possible, so it's a real balancing act. Chinese honorifics thus become "Mr.," "miss," etc., but characters are still concerned with establishing their relationships to one another as they were in the original script (the "Big Bro," "Little Bro" thing in the translation demo).

It's always possible to take artistic liberty too far, so the script editor has to depend on feedback from the translators to make sure that passages haven't strayed too far from their original meaning and intent. So there won't be any lines about Wheaties.  ;)

We do want to create a little PDF booklet to go with the patch, and that's going to include a pronunciation guide and a little primer on pinyin. I wonder whether previous Chinese-to-English translations have used pinyin or the Wade-Giles system for spelling? That's something I still need to research. I definitely prefer the look of terms expressed in pinyin, it's just a bit of a learning curve to pronounce them.
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Magil

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Many people who translate literally often lose sight of this because they've already seen the image being conveyed through kanji or whatever and don't seem to understand that for someone who's about to try to get that same image for the first time, the literal translation is going to look ridiculous.
:-\  Yeah, that is exactly what I'm worrying about.  And the literal translation from me always tends to be garrulous. Sometimes I think I have to cut extra adjuncts and add comments beside them.
I tried to written summary for each chapter so those who do the localization job (e.g., Faust) can catch the story better. It seems that is not enough at all.

but characters are still concerned with establishing their relationships to one another as they were in the original script (the "Big Bro," "Little Bro" thing in the translation demo).
I always suspect that is a wise choice. LOL
Actually the Chinese words for them are extremely short, just like a simple Mr or Ms prefix. But when it comes to literal translation, they sound as if the characters are playing house. I do hope there's a better way to express (for example, a nickname or something like that), but my skill is limited to reading forum topics and news.

Psychlonic

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Well looking at your YouTube vids, I think you're all doing a great job.   :thumbsup: Again, I'm just happy to see some Chinese love haha.
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FaustWolf

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Quote from: Magil
garrulous
Not to mention, I've learned a fair amount of English vocab from you guys during this process.  :thumbsup:  I think there's something about making the extra effort to express yourself in a second language that lends itself to moments of brilliance the native speaker might not have thought of, because more common words come to mind first. The item and equipment names, in particular, turned out to be really fun I think. Can't wait to see what players' reactions are to those when they have a chance to play the whole game in English.

But yeah, lack of English-language references for the story hurts. The fan community's resources and conversations are virtually all in Chinese, which of course gets butchered beyond recognition in Google Translator. At one point I thought one of the characters in the game (who's a Western adventurer) was a Viking when he's actually from the Duchy of Bavaria or thereabouts. :laugh: The translation team has provided virtually all of what I know about the story, and Magil even typed up English wiki articles describing the important characters.

For the script editing process, freeman's Youtube longplay of the game has been absolutely vital in providing context; it's a big part of the reason why the conversations flow as (hopefully) naturally as they do in the translation demo. It's kind of like how James Cameron talks about how he could "look through the lens and see the 3D performances in realtime" in interviews about the development of Avatar. Having the Youtube playthrough and the literal translations open on the same screen is way more convenient than firing up the game, taking notes, powering down and re-inserting, rinse and repeat.

When it comes to Chinese-to-English translations, I do see a significant advantage in the tendency for Chinese RPGs to make use of the nation's history. While there aren't many resources about the characters and plot available in English, there are plenty of good articles on the Song Dynasty and various religious concepts that appear in the story, and that's really helped me understand the game world a bit better. If it had taken place in some kind of Chinese Midgar, I'd be that much more at a disadvantage in trying to understand what's happening in the story.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2011, 11:30:31 pm by FaustWolf »
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BRPXQZME

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We do want to create a little PDF booklet to go with the patch, and that's going to include a pronunciation guide and a little primer on pinyin. I wonder whether previous Chinese-to-English translations have used pinyin or the Wade-Giles system for spelling? That's something I still need to research. I definitely prefer the look of terms expressed in pinyin, it's just a bit of a learning curve to pronounce them.
Most academics, publishers, and news agencies (including nearly all English-language newspapers of note) have switched to pinyin in the past couple of decades if not sooner, so I think using it for this is justified even if there are no other fan translations that use it.

On an aside, I kind of like tongyong pinyin on the face of it as a concept—less unorthodox letter usage—but the fact is that it is incredibly unlikely to catch on for a large number of reasons (such as its practicality for Chinese speakers, its existence as a political football, the PRC would never use it...).
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FaustWolf

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I think elementary and high school history textbooks were still using Wade-Giles in my area back in the 1990s, and then when I hit college, terminology was in (I think) Hanyu Pinyin. I still remember the moment when I was like, "Wait, Mao Zedong and Mao Tse-tung were the same guy!?"  :D 
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BRPXQZME

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Well, U.S. grade-school textbooks live in an outdated little world of their own (look up “textbook adoption states” for more than you could care to read). In my public school education, I didn’t have a single history textbook that covered events following the Vietnam War and the Nixon presidency until AP U.S. History in 2004. So textbooks available to students in the 90s not having made the switch doesn’t surprise me; most major newspapers made some semblance of a switch before 1980. With an 8. (source).
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Next Gen Cowboy

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I stay very far away from politics, but I like to think I know games, and mythos, and in my opinion they go together like chocolate, and caramel! So wooty woot for you, you rock.

Seriously though, your skills are quite astounding, and your taste in games is impeccable my good man.
"Remember when we were in Japan? You said you were my gun, if you're the gun then that means I'm the bullet."

"All my life I've been waiting for the gunpowder to go off, you know what you need to ignite gunpowder? You need a gun."