Fun With Translation (part 4)

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, 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 or 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! 🙂


60 thoughts on “Fun With Translation (part 4)” - NO SPOILERS and NO CURSING

  1. About the source, you could just install browser plugin to disable javascript on that page and you propably can after that copy paste with no problems.

    Also here’s firefox tip to manually edit config file to enable copy pasting if some pages disable it. Link

      1. You can try accessing the text from console (f12). A good shortcut would be ctrl+shift+c in chrome dev tools. That lets you highlight to select area. Text will usually be in <p></p> or other common html tags. It will probably be in unicode which means you can prob put it through an online translator to get proper chinese.

          1. If that’s the case then the whole block of text should be wrapped in a larger block such as a <div></div>. You should be able to copy the whole text (including the <p></p> tags and then in a program like notepad++ you can use a regex in the find and replace something like find: <p>(*)</p> and replace with /1. The brackets saves * which is anything in between the two p tags and the /1 is what you just saved.

          2. Actually now that I think about it since you got the html code, you can just paste it into notepad then save it as a .html file and then open it in a browser and copy/paste it anywhere else you need to.

  2. Ren,

    I may have a solution to circumvent qidian’s scripts that block attempts to copy the text.

    Download noscript (

    What this does is blocks all scripts that you do not authorize.

    What you can try to do is log onto qidian. Enable (on the bottom right) whatever sites to get qidian working. Once a chapter is loaded, go back and ‘forbid’ When you do that the script that blocks you from copying their text should be disabled.

    I’m curious to know if it works. Please let me know! 🙂

    This is my solution to sites that disable right click and copying text.

  3. Wow, never realized all the effort that went into this, I knew there was a >ton of effort_< Thanks again for breaking down what goes into a chapter of Coiling Dragon. ^_^ It's interesting as always.

  4. If I may make a suggestion, you can use things like Translation Aggregator to aid your translations. I’m not talking about the translation function, though. It has other useful things such as keeping a record of glossary terms through plugins. TA is for Japanese only, iirc, but since Japanese Kanji are mostly the same as Chinese characters, you can still use it for that purpose, probably. Just paste in a block of text and let it substitute previously used terms for you… Just use an empty dictionary for the translations so that the rest of it stays intact.

      1. A short guide to what I’m talking about, just to smooth things out a bit…

        Translation Aggregator (extract anywhere):

        Open the thing, and pick some random translate tools that work
        Go to Tools>Translate From/Translate To and set both to Chinese.

        Go to Tools>Substitutions
        Now fill it up with whatever terms you want.

        Now whenever you need it, just dump the raw in, press translate(click “Original Text”) and it will replace everything while leaving basically everything else intact.

        Good luck and thanks for your translations 🙂

  5. And I thought I knew what basically goes into translating this novel. Turns out there’s a lot more to it than knowing the language and translating the text into English in such a way that the meaning is not lost while making it smooth and natural. A lot more. Thinking about it, for those below Saint level, they would need to form a group of a dozen or so people to match you. There is just too much that can make one anxious. Please keep up the great work.

  6. Ren on those protected pages that prevent copying and pasting are you able to (in chrome) right click the area you want to copy and paste and scroll down to inspect element? If they have blocked that you can easily get to the html source that way and simple copy paste from the browser own inspector view which they can’t block.

  7. Lol Ren you should post your problems more often. Look at all these worshipers sharing their collective knowledge of thousands. XD

    BTW The comment above about chrome is a perfect loophole for your issue.

  8. If #3 poses such a problem, why don’t you reach out to your local(and large) community and see if they can get you a program that grabs the text.

    Simply speaking, and it’s actually saved as text, you can get it, it’s just a matter of know how. It might even be something as simple as just freezing the web page or something silly.

    Not an expert but I’m sure it’s a pretty simple workaround if you get someone who knows how to do it.

  9. Ren how many WPM can you read? I´m at like 600 WPM currently, and rising…

    I don´t read novels at that speed though, sometimes I miss stuff, and it´s not as fun xD.

    1. I already have a glossary for that. Keeping an even longer one would be either duplicative, or super time consuming (the glossary already takes a lot of time as is!)

  10. How much did they charge you for the entire series?
    It’s pretty rough to rely on these bootleg versions of any untranslated novel!
    I can feel your pain in that… hope you keep up the good work.
    You’re a monster 😀

    1. I like to translate is putting it all in word and having two word documents side by side, so that wouldn’t work. Plus, words I don’t know come up frequently, so I’d have to constantly be checking the bootlegs.

  11. You could use ‘wget’ to download the originals. with either text or images depending on the switches set it would download, no problem. wget can fake header info to fakeout ‘wget protected sites’.

  12. Wow. I can just almost imagine the headaches you and the other translators go through, especially the translators who translate novels written in a more olden way, incredible that you guys have the will to through all that!!!

    Always fun to read stuff like these !!!

  13. Thanks for sharing with us your insights into the Profound Truths of Translation.

    I sometimes thought of translating a few stories myself, but I quickly gave up (if not due to lack of time) when realizing how much work it takes and how big a headache it is to find appropriate names !

    Although, webnovels are sure simpler to understand, but there are still quite a few “challenging” terms to translate.

    1. alphaphoenix, thanks for registering and joining our community! Translation gets easier as you do more of it, but it never stops being a lot of work for sure!

  14. This is very informative . . . Ren you are somewhat of a celebrity so its fun to get a glimpse into your life …plus increases appreciation for what you go through to consistently deliver

    thanks for sharing

  15. Whoo, Just registered. Wanted to pop in and say I think it’s really incredible that you do 3 chapters daily while having to go through this. O.o Very interesting read. Appreciate it!

  16. I was wondering why there were so many garbled characters in a web novel. Now I know it is due to the character recognition software. Thanks for your hard work RWX and to all the site donors.

  17. As for characters you only find on Qidian which you don’t know, you know that google translate has a hand-draw option for chinese characters? You could simply draw it by hand, let google convert your drawing into a unicode character and then copy/paste it into a proper dictionary.

    Oh well, thanks and keep up the good work either way 😀

  18. Regarding #3, the “trick” is that as soon as the chapter page starts loading, right-click somewhere repeatedly until the right-click menu appears, then wait until the page finishes loading.
    Then click save page as, and in save as type, choose text, not html (make sure the extension in the file name is .txt).
    Afterwards just open the file in a text editor of your choice, and you got the entire chapter – editable.

    It might not be easy in fast computers that load the js that blocks right-clicking before you manage to right-click, in these cases either try again or load enough sites to slow your browser.

  19. Hope this helps you out. Since i don’t know if you use chrome or firefox i will list both ways to copy the text from qidian.


    Ctrl + S and save the page as a .txt file and the chapter is near the bottom of the page simply copy paste into text editor of your choice.


    Open the menu in the top right (it is the three dashes) then go to more tools then open developer tools. on the elements tab click on the body class=”x_reader” generally located 2 lines under html. Now under the elements box there should be a different box listing Styles, Event Listeners, DOM Breakpoints, and Properties. You will want to go to the properties tab (make sure the body.x_reader is highlighted right above these options or else you won’t be in the right section of the webpage!). Now that you are in its properties scroll down and find outerText: (its in alphabetical order so it is easy to find). Right click on the red chinese text next to outerText: and click Store as global variable. A new window should appear with a bunch of red font chinese text. This is the chapter simply highlight the chapter text and copy paste into text editor of your choice. Note this is all displayed text on the page that is not an image or displayed by clicking a button so you will have to delete or not select unnecessary parts of the text.

    Hope that helps. Thanks for translating ^_^ keep up the good work!

      1. Qidian doesn’t host its chapters in the source code. Even just double checked and could not find the text in the source code. Check if you don’t believe me.

        1. Um, sorry. It only works for the paid vip chaps. The text next to

          For free chaps, as you mentioned, have to open developer tools and select the line <body class=,
          right click and Copy, find Chinese text next to outerText.

          1. The text next to
            div class=”bookreadercontent” id=”chaptercontent”

            Here you can find text for the vip chapter and a .txt file for the free chap.
            However, qidian allows us to download the free chaps, so just click 下载阅读 in the bookpage.

  20. thank you for all of your hard work!!! really appreciated it^^
    btw have u tried using Talking dictionary instead of manual dictionary? its easier to find unknown chinese characters

  21. Hi Ren. [email protected] (translator from Pika Translations) recommended me to come here. I was going to ask him/her to help translate 仙侠奇缘之花千骨, but he/she said that you might like it. Please consider it…

    *I’ve seen translations, but the translator suddenly stopped translating towards the end, so I never got to know the ending. 🙁

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