Hey guys, it’s been a long time since a fun with translations post! This is going to be a special one that I’ve planned for months (literally), and this is as good a time as any. Note; this is NOT aimed at any person or translator in specific, despite a bit of recent drama!
First, a bit of backstory; months ago, a good friend of mine decided to try and see if he could get a paid translation service from a Chinese translation company. He actually paid a couple hundred dollars US for ten or twenty (I forget the number) chapters to be translated by this Chinese company, and then worked with some people to get it edited. Before taking it live, he asked me to give a once over to review and see which edited verson was ‘best’. I glanced at the English, and to be honest, the story seemed flat and poorly written. I also felt there were a few things that seemed off or weird, so I thought I’d check the source. What I found in the first few paragraphs alone…really stunned me. The prose in Chinese was perfectly fine, but the English translation not only butchered it, it had also left out many details that would be critical! I pretty much went apesh*t. I retranslated a few paragraphs of the first chapter for him to compare…and he was similarly shocked and outraged. Alas, I don’t think he ever got his money back, and he eventually dropped the idea. Before he did, he asked a Malaysian Chinese translation agency to try a translation as well…and the results were even worse. Take a look at https://www.diffchecker.com/ejaulcif for the Malaysian Chinese version translation. The original Chinese version translation is below.
This is one of the reasons why it seems to many casual readers that many translators are overly touchy about ‘machine translation’ (or bad translations); because while with clever editing, it can be made so that non-translators are unable to tell how many mistakes as made, but when WE look at it, we can tell what butcher’s work has been done. Below the jump, you’ll see the version provided by the Chinese translation company, and the version that I provided. And that’s just for a third of the first chapter! EDIT – For those who are curious, I added in the Chinese as well below.
Whether as a ‘fan translation’ or as a ‘professional translation’, I have always felt that when we are working with a novel, it is a sacred duty for us to maintain fidelity and quality, because when you don’t, you are desecrating the work of the original author. It is even worse if you are taking donations for providing substandard quality; then you are desecrating the original work, AND defrauding the readers of their chance to read what might be a truly awesome work. For the dedicated translator, nothing offends as much as shoddy work. I think it’s pretty obvious that I have no problems whatsoever with donation-fueled translations…but I always encourage and promote that translators respect the original work and the audience enough to produce translations of quality and care. That’s one of the standards for WW, and honestly, I’m really honored to be surrounded by so many people who feel the same way! 🙂
On the top of Wudang Mountain gigantic black storm clouds were at last drifting away.
Wudang’s Master Zhang’s practice was nearly complete. For several hundreds of years no one had been able to master this practice. The last one had been Master Liu, and since his time the spirituality of the world had slowly declined. Master Zhang’s sudden achievement had undoubtedly stunned and amazed his colleagues.
After a few hundred years of practice Master Zhang had finally reached the level to let him ascend to Heaven. He was already a well-known and respected figure by his colleagues, or feared by his competitors, who were now deeply depressed that he had reached such a stage.
Zhang Sanfeng was the most legendary figure of the last few centuries. After the failures of or countless predecessors, he was about to take the step that numerous people had hoped and striven for; he was about to enter into Heaven: a world without death.
Heaven is just one step apart.
Once he had taken this step he would ascend to a divinely beautiful world, a world of immortality.
This was the moment that Zhang and his colleagues had waited so long for.
The weather in contrast to such a rare event was rather ordinary. Clear skies marred by a few drifting clouds, the surface of the surrounding water still and calm. Zhang Sanfeng unhurriedly completed his last step and stepped off of the mountain. He was walking on the sky as if it were solid ground. He slowly made his way step by step to a rift of fluctuating space, suspended in the sky.
The onlookers all caught their breath, eagerly taking in every detail of an event that hadn’t happened for thousands of years. A thousand year old legend was turning into reality.
There was absolute silence as Zhang began to slowly disappear into the rift. Suddenly the stillness was broken by a loud, angry voice yelling at the top of their lungs from further down the mountain.
“QUINFENG! Give me your “Hymn of Qinlian” and I may spare your life!”
Before the man had even finished his sentence a person flew up the peak as fast as wind. He was about twenty years old, dressed in plain clothes, and holding a black iron sword with blood still glistening on the blade. The sword probably wasn’t his. He had the bearing of a tough guy. With his practice and current level of ability, he was likely a master of a small community.
In the blink of an eye, this young man passed all of the people and the “Hymn of Qinlian” a legendary masterpiece of practice, the way that Tai Bai – God of Hymns used that could beat anyone, flew past. Not that any of the onlookers helping— they all wanted to capture him too!
“Guy, stop please!”
“Don’t run away!”
“Pass me your “Hymns of Quinlian” and I’ll let you live, hahaha!”
At the summit of Mt. Wudang, lightning snaked about like dragons. The roiling black clouds, which had appeared ready to bring the apocalypse, were finally, slowly dissipating.
Daoist Master Zhang, Zhang Sanfeng, was about to undergo his tribulation. This news shocked the entire Xiuxing world. It had been many years since someone had to undergo a tribulation. Ever since Liu Bowen had destroyed the ‘dragon vein’, the spiritual energy of the world of China had decreased day after day. It had been centuries since anyone had even heard of a person undergoing a tribulation.
But right at this time when virtually everyone had felt despair regarding to the possibility of ascension, Zhang Sanfeng, a person whom had always been regarded as the number one expert of the Xiuxing world, after centuries of training, had reached the brink of ascension. As soon as he underwent his tribulation, he would ascend.
Zhang Sanfeng, a name which possessed a legendary quality for centuries. The hopes of all the Xiuxing practitioners had been destroyed after countless worthy predecessors had been shattered and smashed. The legends of ascension were beautiful, and spoke of the heavens, where there was no aging or death!
Ascending to the heavens at one go!
After passing this stage, he would be able to reach the world of legend, with no aging or death!
For this moment, Zhang Sanfeng had waited very long. All the Xiuxing cultivators of China had waited very long as well!
A bright moon was in the sky, which looked like water that had been blown over by the wind. It was constantly rippling. Zhang Sanfeng, who had easily undergone the Heavenly Tribulation, was standing on empty space as though it were flat ground, after having stepped off the peak of the mountain. One step at a time, he walked towards the rippling space.
Everyone held their breaths. This was an ascension, something which would be seen once in centuries. The legendary event of centuries past was finally about to become reality.
They watched as Zhang Sanfeng’s figure slowly disappeared within that rippling space. Right at this moment, from halfway up the mountain, a loud shout suddenly rang out. “Qin Fang, hand over the [Hymn of the Fresh Lotus] and I’ll spare your life!”
The words still hung in the air as a figure moved as fast as the wind, flying past the top of the mountain. Although this person’s speed was extremely fast, every single person present was an elder of the various schools of the Xiuxing world, and their gazes were extremely sharp.
They could immediately tell that this was a seemingly twenty year old youth, dressed in a blue jacket, wielding a rather dark metal sword. His clothes were rather ragged, and there were some bloodstains on them, but the blood wasn’t his. His rather handsome, delicate features had a firm, resolute look fixed upon them.
This youth, who was only around twenty years old, had actually trained to the level of a seventh-degree Houtian expert, and was comparable to some of the elders of some smaller sects.
In the blink of an eye, the youth had already moved past everyone present. Only at this time did everyone react. The [Hymn of the Fresh Lotus] was a legendary, ultimate martial arts technique. In the past, the God of Poetry, Li Bai, had relied upon this Hymn of the Fresh Lotus to dominate the world and had been invincible, in the end breaking through the heavens and departing.
As though by reflex, everyone reacted.
“Young sir, please halt!”
“Punk, don’t run!”
“Hand over the Sword-Hymn of the Fresh Lotus, and I, the sect leader, shall protect you from dying, haha!”