Adventures in Fan-Translation

Adventures In Fan-Translation – Chapter 2

Starting on I Shall Seal the Heavens

Transitioning:

After briefly helping on Gakusen for a couple more chapters over the course of the year, my editing had grown more refined. I was explaining pretty much every change I was making, but it was not efficient. I was writing almost an entire paragraph per major change on why I changed it. Most of the time I was pretty much beating a dead horse by explaining the same concepts over and over again. Although the idea was not wrong, there was a smarter way of doing it, an epiphany that would not hit me until a month later.

Just after I stopped editing for real, I entered my first university and with three years of Japanese under my belt I continued to practice it in university. I also took a course that changed my editing ability for the better: Latin.

Many of you may be thinking “How does learning a different language improve your skill in your native language?” Well it boils down to a couple key factors that the learning any language includes. First of all, to understand how to use a foreign language’s grammar, you have to understand how it’s different from your native language’s grammar. Simalarly you also need to understand what type of words in the given language equate to what type of words in your native language.

Latin turns all of that to 11. First of all, word order does not matter in latin, it’s grammatical function does. When you use a word in latin you decline or conjugate it based on what purpose it serves in the sentence. So to understand latin you have to know intimately what makes a sentence and what function each type of word serves in a sentence.

After taking the two first year courses, my understanding of english had grown to a entirely new level. It wasn’t long until I would have an opportunity put this knowledge to the test.

Xianxia:

At the time I had been following a up and coming “new” genre on a small forum: Xianxia. Xianxia is a Chinese novel genre that literally means “Immortal Hero”. It is an offshoot of “Wuxia” (Literally “Martial Hero”) genre. The famous Chinese novel “Journey to the West” is basically the prototype of the genre. Simply put Xianxia is a genre which combines magic, Chinese mythology, Taoism, and martial arts. The main character is usually training to become an immortal and defying the “heavens” in doing so. Modern Xianxia include more elements of western fantasy, or sci-fi.

The novel was “Stellar Transformations” written by a Chinese web novel giant I Eat Tomatoes(我吃西红柿) (Yes that is actually the author’s Alias). The translator will forever be remembered. He was the legendary He-Man:

He translated a large portion of the series on that forum and the original posts are still up on the SPCNet Forum.

Inspired by that translation, a well know moderator (and at the time, working full time as a diplomat), Ren Wo Xing (aka RWX), on SPCNet specifically in the Wuxia novel translation section of the site decided to try his hand at a Xianxia novel. The Xianxia trend was born mainly from those two translations and RWX eventually went to create the now infamous WuxiaWorld to host his translation on. One of the first translators he brought aboard was Deathblade.

I Shall Seal the Heavens:

Deathblade was also working a full time job as an English teacher in China. He started translating Wuxia novels in the SPCNet forum to improve his understanding of the language. Once he was done with a couple Wuxia series, he took on his first major Xianxia project I Shall Seal the Heavens (ISSTH) by Er Gen. About 130 chapters into that series he decided to look for some proofreaders to catch his errors and reword what needed rewording. Naturally as a huge fan of the series, and given my previous editing experience, I applied.

I had to knock it out of the park if I wanted a chance. I recall hearing that quite a few people applied. So I buckled down and got to editing. After finishing the edits, I felt something was missing. I had done the job but how was Deathblade going to be able to tell what I had actually changed? It was then I had one of the most crucial epiphanies. I went back through my edits and broke them down into “types” of edits then colour-coded all of my edits. I had to spend a good extra half hour re-editing the portion of the chapter I had already proofread (The test was only on one portion of an unedited chapter).

Here was that legend:

Purple = Flow changes (optional changes that I’m proposing to make the sentence flow better)
Green = Grammar
Red = Spelling
Blue = Potentially missing word(s)
Orange = Tense (the tense of the verb)

Much to my surprise I was selected to be the new proofreader. The kicker? It was probably because I made the legend, the thing that doubled my work. The beauty of the legend though, was that it actually cut down on work. I didn’t have to explain every edit. I didn’t have to find an easier way to show, there “had” been a change.

From then on I was committed to proofreading on average of 2 chapters (2k-4k words per chapter) a day, minimum. It would be more based on “sponsored chapters”. “Sponsored chapters” was a way of “legally” helping out the translator by donating to them rather than paying them for their work. The more that was donated, the more extra chapters the translator would have to translate in a given week. Of course translating for incentive is much easier than not.

Translation Process:

  1. Deathblade would translate the raw and pass it by his Translation Checkers (TLCs) one of which was his wife, a native Chinese speaker.
  2. After going through the TLC changes he passed the chapter to the first proofreader in line, me.
  3. I then copy-pasted my legend (as of the first officially proofread chapter, new and improved), and took a crack at the chapter.
  4. Once I was done, I sent the chapter to the next person in line.
  5. Once all of the proofreaders were done, Deathblade would go through and do a final edit, then post the chapter once it was time to.

Here was my new and improved legend:

Take-aways:

  1. Loving something does wonders to motivation.
  2. Legends are really good ideas.
  3. Learning other languages requires a good grasp of your own.
Yascobro

Hi, I'm the Light/Web Novel addict, Yascobro (AKA Yascob). I have been learning Japanese for 4-5 years now and finally have started to make the biggest step towards my goal of translating LNs that I like. I'm not perfect at it but I love doing all I can to give back to the community that has given me so much.