Thought it was time to do one of these again! I’ve been typing this one up for a while, and just finished it up earlier today.
So I’ve often said that these chapters take around 3.5-4 hours each, and a lot of people have expressed surprise (either at how ‘slow’ or how ‘fast’ I am), while a few have sent me messages expressing curiosity. I thought I’d share with you a bit of the breakdown!
1) The ‘base’ translation time: ~2.5 hours. This includes looking up any words I don’t know and the actual act of reading through and translating each chapter. Since these are mostly around ~3500 characters on the Chinese side, this is fairly fast. The reason why it is so fast is because as a webnovel, the language used is fairly simple, almost colloquial. I still remember how, when I was working on some Jinyong novels, I had to translate poems and extremely literary dialogue, with a single poem possibly taking an hour or two. Oh, good heavens. The reason I know that the actual time of translating is only around 2.5 hours is because there have been two (maybe three) chapters where NONE of the below factors applied. And yes, it was glorious.
2) Translating ‘special’ terms: 10-15 minutes. This is the most variable. As we’ve discussed in part 1 regarding creatures, part 2 regarding fantasy terms, and part 3 regarding technique names, certain aspects of translating take a tremendous amount of time for me in certain chapters. Sometimes, translating person/place names takes a time to come up with the right one as well. This can take anywhere from 0 time in a chapter (no new terms) to an hour at worst (see ‘impose’). Usually though, I’d say it averages out to around 10-15 minutes a chapter, although again, it is highly variable, and many chapters are at zero time, while others are at half an hour or more.
3) Source review: 5-15 minutes. This is unique to IET webnovel translating, and a lot of people aren’t aware of this. Here’s the thing; the only ‘official’ version of these novels is on the Chinese website qidian.com, behind a paywall (which I have paid for). I would love to be able to ONLY use the official version, esp. since I’ve paid for all 800+ chapters! But there is a problem; in order to prevent piracy, qidian uses a lot of scripts which prevent people from copy/pasting text and doing all sorts of other things (which also makes it extreeeemeley slow for me). But for me, as a translator, there are often words I’m not certain about which I need to check in an online dictionary. If I can’t copy/paste the words, then I would have to search through a manual dictionary, which is MUCH slower. So in the end, I am forced to usually base my primary translations off bootleg versions, which can be found throughout the Chinese internet at places like tianyabook.org or ranwen.org. But the problem is, thanks to qidian’s anti-piracy software, these bootleg copies were mostly created using character recognition software, which often either skips characters, gets them wrong, or sometimes even skips entire sentences! The worst I’ve found was an entire PAGE that was skipped.
The thing is, how would I know if text was skipped? If I’m constantly comparing the texts, that would be wasting a lot of unnecessary time, so what I do is, if something seems abrupt or comes out of nowhere, or if characters are missing, I will then go to qidian and find those missing characters. Sometimes I’ll find that they are missing; other times, I’ll find that nothing was missing, and it was just badly written by IET. This can be very time consuming, and sometimes, missing words/sentences totally change my interpretation of following sentences, so I have to re-translate those. And God help me if any of the missing words in qidian are words I don’t recognize; that means I either have to waste time going through my manual dictionary, or spend time trying to find a different bootleg source that scanned this part correctly.
4) Glossary/previous chapter review: 5-10 minutes. There are so many names of people, places, items, and techniques that I’ve translated that I can’t always keep them straight. I’m constantly going back to previous chapters and the glossary to see how I translated them previously. This takes more time than you would expect, and sometimes, I find the previous translation was wrong and I end up having to make changes (see #3 as one example of a reason why). Maybe if I had a better memory, I wouldn’t have to spend much time on this, but… T_T
5) Post-chapter editing: 15 minutes. I’m pretty fast at reading and pretty good at catching errors, but this is still a super short read and editing process, and the only reason I’m able to get away with it is because of everyone here who is so helpful in letting me know when errors come up. So again, thanks to everyone who catches and posts errors; you guys are helping me save a LOT of time.
6) Miscellaneous: 5-10 minutes. There’s almost always something that comes up. Maybe I change the translation of a term, whether due to mistranslation or preference (both happen). I go back to the previous chapter(s) to fix them as well for continuity’s sake (see how Radiant Shrine has become Radiant Temple, Arctic Icefont became Arctic Icecap, etc.). Or maybe the computer has an issue and needs to be restarted. Perhaps the power went out and I lost an hour’s worth of work (grr, only once thankfully). There’s all sorts of random timesinks, some software, some hardware, and some translation related. Basically, crap happens, and when it does, time is spent.
7) Rest time: 10-15 minutes (over 3-4 hours). I can’t go 100% for 3+ full hours; the body breaks down. So roughly after every hour, I’ll give myself around 3-5 minutes to get up, do a quick stretch, grab a drink of water, take a bathroom break, wash my face, whatever.
So there you have it! That’s how the time is roughly broken down for each chapter of Coiling Dragon! 🙂