The Linguist

The Linguist 57,3 – June/July 2018

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 16 of 34

@Linguist_CIOL JUNE/JULY The Linguist 17 FEATURES cloven hooves, a mane and beard, antlers and carp-like whiskers, and can be golden, multicoloured or even bejeweled. The qílín is often thought of as a symbol of good luck, protection, success and longevity, and, when threatened, has been known to breathe fire. There are several possible approaches to translating such creatures. With a foreignising approach, it could be rendered as qílín, preserving the source culture and celebrating the exotic nature of the beast. Alternatively, a translation could be created based on its physical features; in a game where the qílín served as a mount, for instance, the term 'dragon steed' was used. There is no single correct answer, but with a bit of imagination translators can do a lot better than 'unicorn'. There are hundreds of mythical creatures in Chinese literature, and therefore in Chinese video games. Some of them, like the dragon, will be recognisable to Western audiences; others will have a higher degree of cultural opacity. In many cases, translators will have to choose between preserving the source culture, using what seem like Western equivalents or creating something new. Having a comprehensive knowledge of the relevant myths, legends and literature should help them to make better decisions. Working as a team Most localisation agencies outsource teams of freelance translators and reviewers after a project has been secured. Around the time a project begins, the freelancers will normally be given a localisation kit, including screen shots, information and possibly a style guide, which provide helpful context and guidance. More context can be gained by playing the original versions of the games, which are usually available online. By spending as little as half an hour with a game, it is possible to learn its core mechanics, and potentially prevent dozens of mistakes. Most video game translations involve one or two translators and a reviewer, but for bigger jobs, or when there are tight deadlines, it's possible to have several linguists working in tandem. Problems can occur if they cannot agree on certain translations, for example where one takes a more faithful approach to the source text, and the other takes a freer or more creative approach, focusing on the reception of the target audience. When multiple linguists work on the same project, they can easily modify each other's translations accidentally, as, by nature, video game texts are highly repetitive and, in a translation memory, if you change one repetition, all the other repetitions (that other linguists have completed) can be updated to the latest translation. The best way to avoid this is by having a clearly defined style guide, protocols for repetitions, and effective communication throughout. It can be difficult for larger teams to gel within such a short period of time, but for the agencies, it makes financial sense to only hire them when required. Eager to prove themselves, newer translators can be less likely to alert the team to a problematic translation, yet it is vital that all team members are communicative about any potential problems. It is much better to flag a problem in the text and have the team collectively work on it, than to provide a guess translation. In fact, teams that flag the most problems tend to create the best overall translations. Most agencies encourage this, as it can prevent inaccurate or inappropriate translations being exposed by developers, or critics, and there is nothing worse than the quality of a translation being questioned in a published review. The game market in China continues to grow, and this will likely increase the demand for Chinese>English video game translators. Any linguist interested in making a career in this field would do well to familiarise themselves with classical Chinese literature, wuxia novels, and the core mechanics of Chinese MMORPGs. Despite the quirks and challenges, Chinese video game localisation projects can be culturally stimulating and provide freelancers with a steady stream of work. Notes 1 Warman, P (2017) 'The Global Games Market Will Reach $108.9 billion in 2017 with Mobile Taking 42%'. In Newzoo, 20/4/17; 2 Tanchan, R (2017) 'A History of Video Game Censorship in China'. In The Culture Trip, 26/1/17 3 Feng, A (2014) 'Online Games and National Chinese Identities'. In Lee, H-K and Lim, L (eds) Cultural Policies in East Asia: Dynamics between the state, arts and creative industries. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 53

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Linguist - The Linguist 57,3 – June/July 2018