Fun With Translations – Bad Translations

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 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! 🙂

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To everyone who just applied for the proofreader position, I’m about to collapse to sleep, to please wait until tomorrow for an email response which will include a proofreading test!

Do you like feet?

Hi Fellow Daoists,

I recently discovered I made some errors in how I calculated some measurements of things. Long story short, some things are bigger than I originally described. Hey, bigger is always better, right? I was already in the process of going back to make a bunch of tweaks to previous chapters to make sure all terminology and everything is consistent, so I will include this in my editing. If any important changes are made, I’ll be sure to mention it in an announcement or chapter release. In the meantime, I’m curious which you prefer, metric units or imperial units?

Please take time to participate in a quick vote.

Special Er Gen / ISSTH video!

Hi everyone. Several days ago here in China, a video interview was released of Er Gen, the author of I Shall Seal the Heavens. It’s pretty cool (although be warned, it contains minor spoilers…)! I translated it as best I could and posted it on youtube. If you are a fan of ISSTH (or if you are considering whether or not to pick it up), please check out the video. I’m very embarrassed to say that… I accidentally uploaded the wrong version, which has some typos and mistakes. Unfortunately, it took about 4 hours to upload, thanks to the Great Firewall of China, so I’m going to call it a day. Therefore… this is as good as it gets. Hopefully you all can forgive the typos and handful of poor translations.

In any case, it’s good enough to show to your friends and/or family who ask you about what these “Xianxia” stories are all about. Please share around to raise an awareness of Xianxia! And for any Xian Ni fans out there, if you could share with the Xian Xi community, that would be great!

If you would like to view the original high-quality video, click here.

By the way, in the video I mention that I will post the “major spoilers” in the wuxiaworld spoiler threads. Sadly, the forum has many google-based components which are block in China. Therefore, I will post those spoilers later….. Okay, it’s off to sleep for me!

Clarification about Foundation Establishment

I made a grammar adjustment to a previous passage regarding Foundation Establishment that may or may not change your understanding of how that stage works. Its very small (literally a change of 2 letters). The original Chinese is kind of vague about some certain things; by making this change, it actually makes some certain aspects of Foundation Establishment more clear than the original Chinese. As such, they are in some ways a very minor spoiler. For the details, click the link.

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Stellar Transformations – A Case Study in the Repercussions of Translation Poaching

Hey guys, a lot of you are or were ST fans, so I wanted to share this post I made on reddit not long ago with you, as this is something near and dear to my heart. Alas, it seems ST will be looking for a translator yet again…which is why provoked my (very wordy) post. Anyhow, just wanted to share. I try to avoid posting this sort of soapboxy stuff, but this is really, really close to the heart for me…

EDIT – Thanks for all the kind words, guys. Just to clarify though, this hasn’t been a problem for me, and you guys here at WW have been awesome (seriously), and I am incredibly thankful for having you all. This is more directed towards what I’ve seen on other sites, esp. w/regards to the game of ST football 🙁