Here’s another episode of your regular series on how translation works! Today, we’re going to take a look at something many people aren’t aware of; namely, how much work (and how messy) the process is of translating from Chinese to English, and how much butchering and re-slicing of grammar needs to be done!
BTW, for those who are interested, the previous parts are below:
What many people don’t understand, with regards to translating, is how much of the translator’s “voice” goes into what you read. It is often believed that translation is a matter of knowing the right words or knowing the right meaning. While this might be somewhat true within same language families, when you translate from Chinese into English (and vice versa), it is much more than that, by simple virtue of the fact that Chinese grammar/syntax can be completely different from English syntax; the fact that webnovel authors often use lazy grammar makes it even harder! In many cases, good translators aren’t translating word by word, or even sentence by sentence; we might very well be translating paragraph by paragraph, which is one of the reasons why to this very day, MT produces results so terrible.
Below are a number of examples I randomly picked from the recent chapters. I have translated them in two different ways. At top is a translation which is more literal and retains the original syntax, and I think you’ll agree that the meaning is mostly maintained/understandable, but the readability is terrible! Below is the actual, ‘finished’ version which I used in the chapters. I’ll let them speak for themselves!
So that’s this fun with translation, part 6 – a short one in the ‘explaining’ part, but one, I hope, that helps you realize how much “butcher’s work” translators have to do to make a work both accurate and flow properly…and really, how much of what you read is the translator’s “voice”, not just the author’s! These examples below are all for CD, but they are all equally true for the other translators as well!
Original: Hanuman stared. “Our Redding clan, the various branches, and also ultimate expert’s residences, I, Hanuman, am clear, I close my eyes, and can easily find any of their residences.”
RWX: Hanuman stared. “Even with my eyes closed, I, Hanuman, can easily find the residences of any of our Redding clan’s various branches or of our ultimate experts.”
Original: “Banquet, finally is over.” O’Brien laughing, sighed once. “Arrived in Infernal Realm so long, I have never one breath spoken so much. Linley, your these clansmen, about the Yulan continent truly are sufficiently curious.”
RWX: “The banquet finally came to an end.” O’Brien laughed, then let out a sigh. “Despite having been in the Infernal Realm for so long, I’ve never spoken so much in one breath. Linley, these clansmen of yours truly are quite curious regarding the Yulan continent.”
Original: “Right.” Linley thought about that day banquet within scenes, those each clansmen asked him all sorts of questions, that scene, he couldn’t help but laugh. “With these clansmen together, I felt I returned to a large family. Truly very good! If my father, could also see them, definitely would very happy, content.”
RWX: “Right.” Thinking back to the banquet that day, and that scene of how those clansmen all asked him all sorts of questions, Linley couldn’t help but laugh. “When I was with those clansmen, I felt as though I had returned to a large family. It truly was wonderful! If my father could see them as well, he definitely would feel very happy and very content.”
Original: “Right, you didn’t hear wrong!” Baruch solemnly said. “Our Four Divine Beasts clan’s ancestors, those four Sovereigns, and because of the existence of those four Sovereigns, especially because those four Sovereigns were very tight-knit, they raised descendants of the clan, our Four Divine Beasts clan was naturally strong, add in the four ancestor’s support, thus dominated the various planes, no person can defeat!”
RWX: “Right! You heard correctly!” Baruch said solemnly. “The ancestors of our Four Divine Beasts clan were four Sovereigns. The four mighty Sovereigns were a very tight-knit group, and the descendants of their Four Divine Beasts clan, which they raised, were naturally powerful to begin with. When they were present, the assistance the four ancestors provided allowed their clan to dominate the major planes with utter invincibility!”