Off topic: Have you ever had a project you absolutely loved?
Thread poster: Lincoln Hui

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 23:11
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
Dec 6

As much as some translators may moan and groan, we probably rank pretty high in job satisfaction compared to the field. We're usually doing what we're good at, and we are rarely forced to do anything that might be considered offensive or distasteful.

Still, projects that we actively enjoy (as opposed to "not hate") are probably the exception rather than the rule. Making a living usually involves translating a lot of text that are dull and uninspiring at best, dreadful and expletive-inducing at worst. Trying to polish turd can really put a dent in your motivation and productivity, even if we eventually produce something that is acceptable (and usually better than what it started out as).

I do a lot of work in Chinese to English game translations, and I'm going through one large project right now where the consistency and quality of the source is so poor in so many ways that I had to resist the urge to bang my head against the keyboard. The project also pays my bills for the next three months, so I suck it up and try to make something out of this atrocity. This being very much the norm in the industry, I tend to have very low expectations about the writing quality in Chinese games, most of which seems to be written by programmers with the writing ability and maturity of a 12-year-old and pieces of half-baked fantasy concepts stolen from a variety of sources.

Recently, however, I've had a 23000 word story come into my hands, a lore item for a battle royale game (if you know anything about the genre - think PUBG - you know just how unusual the sentence I just wrote is). I went into it with my typical low expectations, and was very, very surprised to find that it was something of a legitimate gem.

I don't know where the story drew its inspiration from, but it broke the Chinese gaming stereotype by being written by somebody who actually knew how to write. Almost reluctantly I found this small-town murder mystery with just the right mix of Satanic fantasy horror to be outright gripping. The story takes itself seriously and even the somewhat lighthearted moments have none of the cringe-worthy, asinine attempts at "humor" that plague so many Chinese games.

The writing may not be flashy, but the more I look at it, the more I appreciate the direct, matter-of-fact style. The first-person narrative is tightly organized and efficient. There are no unnecessarily flowery paragraphs that give the writer a hard-on but serve only to make the reader cringe. It provides just enough information to create distinct and functional characters, drive a tight narrative, and describes every important event and object with both brevity and clarity, making it very easy to visualize every scene – nothing more. More and more I had the sense that this writer really knows what they are doing – they know exactly what the reader needs to know, and what the reader does not need to know.

This also meant that the text was very easy to translate. That's not necessarily a good thing, because there were a few spots where the language usage was a little too English-like for my liking. On the whole, however, the narrative and descriptions were so clear and unambiguous that it really made my job a lot easier. The highly distilled quality of the writing meant that I could easily do a matter-of-fact transfer and already end up with a good quality, highly efficient target text, but it was also very easy to put a few finishing touches and embellishments if I wanted to – it's a very robust text.

The story ends on a cliffhanger because it's really there to create atmosphere for the game itself. It seems such a waste to have something of this quality as background lore for a game that doesn't even need one, and I actually found myself wanting to read the continuation. In any case, this was easily the most satisfying and enjoyable translation experience I've had in a long time. It made me feel especially motivated, and really made me appreciate the wonders that good source text can do for the life of the translator.

Have you ever had a translation experience that really stands out - in a good way?


Catherine Howard
 

Ricki Farn
Germany
Local time: 16:11
Member (2005)
English to German
Yes but not like you Dec 6

All my translations are boring by definition because that is what I specialize in: boring translations.

I do like some humans on the client side more than others. Which is extra surprising because I do not like humans as a species.

Shameless link to my recent blog article on the subject:
http://erinatranslations.de/en/2018/11/20/adventures-in-agile-localization/

Your game sounds like a whole nother level, though!


 

Anna Augustin
Germany
Local time: 16:11
Member (May 2018)
English to German
+ ...
Videogames! Dec 6

I really love videogames and videogame translations and localisations.
I find that especially with RPGs, it's super creative work and I'm a gamer myself so I know what works best.
Also, developers are often super nice and nerdy people, at least in my experience.
Unfortunately, there are sooo many game developers nowadays, especially with mobile gaming on the rise. So there's bound to be more bad apples.

Another thing I really love is when the client has a passion for their own products, which in turn makes me respect their products much more and I feel like I give more than 100% when translating their files.
I worked for a small Danish company who produces headphones and speakers and I enjoyed it so much. They were all incredibly nice and you could really tell that they love what they do. Which in turn made me love what I did for them.


 

Francisco Vare
Poland
Local time: 16:11
Polish to Spanish
+ ...
Got lucky lately Dec 6

I got really lucky lately. One of my best clients offered me a 20k-word translation completely unrelated to what I normally translate for them (which are catalogues).

The translation was a long essay on the history of perfumes and scents and how they have evolved in time to what they are today. This is not something I would be breathlessly excited about normally, but it was written so beautifully that I even got goosebumps here and there. I have never ever had a better experience while translating a text that could a priori seem boring as hell.


 

Mohammad Renaldi Diponegoro  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:11
Member (2010)
English to Indonesian
Greetings from a fellow game translator! Dec 7

Ah, I see that you have found the passion and reason to stay in translation industry. I have taken gaming translation projects from 2010, and I could say that I love every moment of it. From translating JRPG to mafia to farming games etc., every project bring my inner childhood to life. Sure, there are boring moments when the text got repetitive and, like in casual social games, actions to be translated to invite friends etc. But overall I love every moment of it.

Currently I am translating a JRPG game. As you may have translated (or played), JRPGs are dialog heavy games with various in-game moments that make you smile, sad or excited. I can say that I am enjoying translating every word of it, and doing my best to convey their emotions to my translation.

Greetings, fellow game translator. May your inner childhood be freedicon_wink.gif

[Diedit pada 2018-12-07 07:39 GMT]


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Yes, of course Dec 7

I would be really worried if anyone here answered no...

Unless you absolutely love your work pretty regularly, you should be somewhere else!

My particular fetish is economics and I totally get off on the economic forecasts I translate on a weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual basis. And that's before all the one-offs.

One common denominator is that they are well-written.


Tom in London
 

EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:11
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
Veeery seldom Dec 7

Not only what I do is mostly boring, but also poorly written, often to the point of not making any sense. Just working on documents written in English by Russians - aaaarrrghhhh! My main clients tend to be messy writers even in their mother tongues. I do remember some well written and interesting jobs, but it was long ago.

 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 16:11
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
art exhibition catalogues Dec 7

I love almost all that I translate, in that variety is the spice of work. I get to learn something new every day and that is a huge privilege for me.

I really really love translating art exhibition catalogues. They are usually very well written, and the writer invariably ups the ante intellectually so I have go the extra mile to make sure that my translation reflects this. I get to view some beautiful works of art and I love teasing every last nuance out of texts that are simply dripping in it, and hopefully producing poetry on a par with the artist's output.

I couldn't do it all the time though, I'll easily take three times as long as for a fashion catalogue with all sorts of dresses differing only in minor details.


Tom in London
 

Vera Schoen  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 16:11
Member (2008)
German to Swedish
+ ...
Yes, art catalouges! Dec 7

Kay Denney wrote:


I really really love translating art exhibition catalogues. They are usually very well written, and the writer invariably ups the ante intellectually so I have go the extra mile to make sure that my translation reflects this. I get to view some beautiful works of art and I love teasing every last nuance out of texts that are simply dripping in it, and hopefully producing poetry on a par with the artist's output.

I couldn't do it all the time though, I'll easily take three times as long as for a fashion catalogue with all sorts of dresses differing only in minor details.



Yes to all of the above!

Also, I very much like to translate speaker texts for various shows (the narrative binding the show together).


 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:11
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Yes Dec 7

Any type of literature translations, lyrics, poetry. Especially the latter can be a little challenging at times, but I love challenges, too.icon_wink.gif

Tom in London
missdutch
 

Mair A-W (PhD)
Germany
Local time: 16:11
Member (2016)
German to English
+ ...
Enjoy Dec 7

Lincoln Hui wrote:

Still, projects that we actively enjoy (as opposed to "not hate") are probably the exception rather than the rule. Making a living usually involves translating a lot of text that are dull and uninspiring at best, dreadful and expletive-inducing at worst.


Really? If I felt like this about my work, I'd do something else...


Ester Vidal
Tom in London
 

IrinaN
United States
Local time: 09:11
English to Russian
+ ...
Just wow! Dec 7

EvaVer wrote:

Not only what I do is mostly boring, but also poorly written, often to the point of not making any sense. Just working on documents written in English by Russians - aaaarrrghhhh! My main clients tend to be messy writers even in their mother tongues. I do remember some well written and interesting jobs, but it was long ago.


Wow again!

What you are saying may be true in certain cases, I can see responses in Kudoz, but let me offer a cure... Please ask your clients to offer more than 2-4 cents and 90% CAT discount for funny matches when hiring Ru-En translators, and you just might be surprised by the quality ensured by the newly found Russians. But then again, this may put you out of work... Generalization is a dangerous thing.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:11
Member (2008)
Italian to English
This one Dec 7

Lincoln Hui wrote:

Have you ever had a project you absolutely loved?


Yes, the one I'm doing now. Hopelessly underpaid for the level of quality and expertise it demands; challenging; time-intensive; requiring lots of research; but absolutely fascinating - like all the jobs I do, no matter of what kind. I just like translating - anything!

I can't think of any projects I didn't love (a love that I pour into the project) - except for one. But I didn't love that one because it was a bad or uninteresting text. I didn't love it because the client was a nightmare who wouldn't leave me alone and wanted to have a discussion about every single word.

[Edited at 2018-12-07 22:17 GMT]


 

EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:11
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
Like what? Dec 8

Mair A-W (PhD) wrote:

Lincoln Hui wrote:

Still, projects that we actively enjoy (as opposed to "not hate") are probably the exception rather than the rule. Making a living usually involves translating a lot of text that are dull and uninspiring at best, dreadful and expletive-inducing at worst.


Really? If I felt like this about my work, I'd do something else...

May I remind you that many of us can do nothing else, at least properly, and at least nothing on similar terms (working at home...).


 


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