Translate faster!

This is an etvo produced FAQ addressing some common questions/complaints that pop up in the community from the translator’s standpoint. These are her views only and do not represent other translators on volare, or volare as a whole. As spliced out from an epic Reddit response she once did.

Before we begin, this is a compilation from etvo and represents her opinions only. I thought it might be helpful to compile answers to some of the most frequently mentioned issues in the community. Please, if you’d like to engage in discussion, please speak to others as how you’d like to be addressed.


  • Look at all the donation counters popping up everywhere. Translators are greedy and it’s all about money!

Translating can take 3-4 hours for a chapter, all in. Translating + TLCing + editing + updating TOC/glossary/whatnot + posting + error correcting. A typical novel of 1,000 chapters can therefore take 3K – 4K hours of effort. It’s a bit mind boggling to be expected to do all this for free.

These are also always, always optional. I actually think of it as tipping. You like my work and the story? Why thank you! $10 from someone in SG and another $5 from the US makes up a chapter in which everyone can enjoy.


  • Donation counters are so high. $20 (or enter your price) is a reasonable rate.

ProZ.com — an online community for translators of assorted language pairs, quotes the average price on their site at USD 0.11 per word. A typical 3K character chapter would therefore be USD 330.

In addition, the sponsored $ per chapter is not funded by one person alone. $5 here or there makes a sponsored chapter that everyone can enjoy. Not to mention that those of us in the translating community love the story and are very well versed with the lingo. The passion shows through in our translations and makes them so much more enjoyable to read. Hire someone from a professional agency (which I’ve also worked with), and you’ll likely get jarring translations similar to “Jiang Chen, the earthly trainer, firing off the ‘East King Finger’ and knocking his enemy’s head off” as opposed to “Jiang Chen, the secular cultivator, deploying the ‘Eastern King Point’, sending his enemy’s head flying off across the horizon”, more often than not.


  • Translators are just all about money anyways. It’s just a money grab.

I rather think it’s a good thing that a translation site is treated as a business if the owner has equal or not more passion for translating the novels themselves. Treating a site like a business means thinking about strategy, finances, and marketing, which bodes well for the longevity of the site and hence availability/variety of genres for everyone to read. It means that a site plans to be around and stick around. How many translation groups have come and gone? But of course, this isn’t a generalization that holds true for every single group.

It all depends on how seriously one wants to take the scene. But on the flip side, thinking only first and foremost about money and trying to make money off the scene, that’s rather saddening and I’m inclined to think… will result in translations with no soul. 🙁


  • Translators are so slow. Why do they pick up another novel when they’ve already got one they don’t release fast enough?

Most translators do this as a hobby or a side job at most. Real life, be it working 9 hours a day, school + homework + exams, or just craziness can often happen.

Imagine being a developer and working on the same project for 3,000 hours. (Gross estimation of how long it’d take to complete a book). Would you go mad or scream with boredom sometimes? Everyone needs a lil variety and that’s why folks do multiple projects.


  • Translators are so slow. They need to work with other people to release faster.

I’ve actually tried collaboration — it didn’t work out too well most times. Translating/writing is a very subjective art. Everyone has their own preferences/quirks. You like “pissed off”, I like “enraged.” You like “courting death”, I like “asked to die”. Yanno? Not to mention the struggles of keeping terminology consistent when the common glossary isn’t updated frequently. Or would you feel when you collaborate, but you feel like you’re pulling all the weight during a period because your colleagues are busy? Bitterness and resentment don’t lead to good translations.


However, seeing is believing, so here’s a snippet from volare translators. Each paragraph represents a different translator.

Translator 1: While Ning Xi was very drunk, her subconscious mind could feel that the person embracing her at the moment was very warm, and had no bad intentions. She slowly relaxed into his arms and slurred drunkenly as she sat in his lap, “It’s only because I feel it’s beneath me… Otherwise… Otherwise with this face… I could find a… a big leg to hug… You think you can suppress me… I’ll go find one now… right now…”

 

Translator 2: Ning Xi was super drunk, but people still had instincts even so. She could feel that the person hugging her didn’t mean her any harm, and was really gentle, so she slowly relaxed. She sat on the man’s leg and leaned into him, not struggling anymore. She murmured drunkenly, “This chick here just didn’t care… because… because with my face… I can… go find a thigh to hug… do you think you can hold me down… I’m gonna go find… go find one right now…”

 

Translator 3: Ning Xi was incredibly intoxicated, but she was still vaguely aware that the person currently holding her had no malicious intent. She relaxed into his tenderness and straddled his legs, leaning into his embrace without further struggle. She spoke drunkenly, “I was just disdainful… otherwise… otherwise with my beauty… do all of you think you can oppress me… if I wanted to… find a backer to latch onto… I’m going to… going to locate one now…”

 

Translator 4: Ning Xi was incredibly drunk, but she seemed to be able to subconsciously sense that the person hugging her had no ill-intentions. Furthermore, this person was incredibly gentle, so she gradually relaxed, sat on the man’s thigh and leaned into his embrace without any further resistance. In a drunk manner she said, “This lady just refuses to put down her dignity… otherwise… based on this lady’s face… I can find a… a large thigh(sugardaddy) to hug… you think you guys can suppress me… I will go find one right now… right now……”

 

Translator 5: Ning Xi was really drunk, but since people probably had a subconscious, she could feel that the person hugging/embracing her right now did not have any ill intentions. Instead, he was very kind, so she gradually relaxed as she sat on the man’s legs and leaned in his embrace without struggling. She tipsily muttered, “Laoniang just felt contempt to do so… Otherwise… if I find a thick… thick leg to hug… with laoniang’s face… Do you think you can suppress me… I will go and find one right now… go right now…”

 

Translator 6: Ning Xi was severely drunk. Nevertheless, her subconscious more or less sensed that the person holding her now had no ill intentions, but was exceptionally gentle. As a result, she gradually relaxed and sat on the man’s legs, leaning into his embrace without struggling any further. Drunk, she spoke tipsily, “This lady doesn’t think it’s worth it…otherwise…otherwise, just with this lady’s face…I’d find a big…a big, fat leg to hug…you think you can keep me under control…I’ll find one right this instant…right now…”

 

Translator 7: Ning Xi was very drunk, but she still have some consciousness. She felt the person holding her didn’t have any evil intentions but gentleness. She began to relaxed sitting on the man’s laps and stop struggling within his embrace. Drunkly she said, “This lady didn’t think it’s worth of doing…..otherwise….otherwise, just relying on this lady’s face…..I can find a big….big and thick leg to hug….you think all of you can suppress me….I will go find now….go now….”

 

Translator 8: Ning Xi was extremely drunk, but probably because humans do have subconsciousness, she felt that the person that was currently carrying her did not have any bad intentions, but was actually very gentle and warm. Hence, she gradually relaxed, sitting on the man’s leg she leaned against his chest, no longer struggling. Drunkenly, she started speaking drunk words: “This Ma’am just feels it’s not worth doing…… otherwise……. Otherwise just based on this face of this ma’am…… to find an big…… big thick thigh(sugar daddy) to hug…… You think you guys can stop me……. I’ll go find one right now……. right now…….”

 

Translator 9: Ning Xi was dead drunk. However, like most people in her state, she would acted subconsciously. Right at the moment he hugged her, she felt that the person didn’t hold any ill-intent towards her, but he was extremely gentle. Therefore, she gradually relaxed and sat on his lap, leaning into his embrace without struggling. While in her drunken frenzy, she acclaimed, “This lady disdain this kind of thing… If not… If not, based of this lady’s face… to find a big… a big leg to hug… you think you all can pressure me… I can go find one right away… go right now…”

 

Translator 10: Ning Xi was incredibly drunk, but she still retained some conscious thought. She felt like the person currently holding her bore her no malice, and moreover was very gentle. She slowly relaxed, sitting on the man’s lap and leaning back into his embrace. No longer struggling, she drunkenly slurred, “This lady just doesn’t think it’s worth it, that’s all… otherwise… otherwise, with this lady’s looks… I could find a big… big patron to embrace… You think you can pressure me… I will now go find… now go…”

Imagine shifting tones like this every other chapter. Who’s going to take up the thankless task of merging them all into a cohesive whole? Why is one person’s rendition used and not another? They’re all right, just expressed differently. Any of them could possibly go “WTF, why didn’t you use mine? Why did you use that one? That doesn’t fit the tone at all.” (cue bickering for an hour for a chapter) Who’s going to keep doing this for 1,000 chapters?? O_O


  • It’s fine, forget about quality. Speed > quality. MOAR!

Might… might I recommend Google Translate if speed is all you want? 😀

Here’s the Google translate version of what we were doing up there:

Google Translate: Ning Xi drunk very badly, but probably people are subconscious, she felt to the moment holding her man is not malicious, and very gentle, so gradually relaxed down, sitting man’s legs, leaning against his arms No longer struggling, drunk talking drunk words, “his aging mother disdain … … Otherwise … … or his aging mother this face alone … … to find a big … … … … big thick legs hold you hold me … … I … … I Now to find … … now go … … “

Taking the time to use proper grammar, appropriate diction, making it flow in English, and making it an honest joy to read takes time and is why novels are so popular now. If all translators pooped out 10 chapters a day (cause honestly, it’d be shit) of garbled sentences, no punctuation, and indecipherable meaning — no one’s going to want to read it. To continue the web dev example, imagine if you coded ten er, sites? in a day’s work of work. Half the functions don’t work, they keep crashing, the logic’s not replicable, and it’s in general junk. But hey, you did ten sites! Speed >> quality!


  • Why do translators retranslate from the beginning when they pick up a chapter? It’ll take such a long time to be current.

Retranslation kinda goes back to preferences and quirks I mentioned earlier. For instance, when I picked up GDK I noticed that the previous translator had transliterated all the names, but they were actually Western names. Bu Lai En vs Bryan. I wasn’t going to use the previous, but neither did it make sense to suddenly shift to my preferences. Add to that huge differences in writing style, it only made sense to start from the beginning.


  • Slow translators need to make way for faster translators who can do a much better job than them. Competition and poaching needs to happen.

Let’s continue the web dev example. Let’s say you coded a project for nine months. Every day, every night. It’s on your mind when you’re enjoying drinks with friends, it’s the first thing you check in on when you wake up in the morning. It was understood to be yours in the beginning and thus not open source. You’re getting a lot of attention for it and people are keeping an eye on it. It’s popular.

Now, someone comes in who barely knows code, has none of this history, did none of the work before, and sure as heck had nothing to do with its rise to popularity decides that your quality sucks and that they can do it faster. They take the snippets you’ve shown other people and keep coding, changing everything you were doing before and crow that you were being greedy, and that they’re doing this for the greater good. Here, hands you a sledgehammer to bash them in. If we’re unlucky, this episode will have so demoralized the translator that they quit. If we’re lucky, the scene dissolves into a chaotic mess of a chapter here and a chapter there with disjointed terms, mess of writing styles, and a pain to read. Hey. ’twas competition right.

And to refer back to what Ren once said on reddit, referencing what had happened to the Stellar Transformation translations:

1) A translation gets popular, and some people start to clamor for the translation to be done faster. The translator keeps at the original rate, because there is a limit to how much energy s/he is willing to expend on digging holes (because digging holes is not fun).

2) Another translator (often a new one) steps in and goes, ‘hey, I can do it faster’ and jumps in. For the first few chapters, the new guy goes at a rapid-fire pace, faster than the original translator, because translating this project is new, it is exciting, and because he is getting plaudits from certain readers, who praise him for how fast he is going! This is what I call the ‘honeymoon’ phase.

3) The original translator, nine out of ten, looks at it and goes, ‘fuck it’.  digging holes is not fun, and it’s even less fun when a loud, vocal minority of readers are berating him for being ‘slower’, or telling him he should leave it to the new translator, or that he should go work with the new translator (solo translations vs group translation is a separate subject). He quits, probably with a grudge against the new translator.

4) The new translator eventually slows down after the initial excitement of the honeymoon wears off, because like everyone else, he finds out that digging holes is not fun. Instead of a chapter every day or every other day, he slows down to a few a week, or maybe one or two a week.

5) Return to step one. The cycle repeats.


  • People get jumped on as soon as they criticize translators. It’s like they can do no wrong.

As someone who gets really worked up when translators are bashed, I will raise my hand and ‘fess up that I get mad. xD But I never delete comments, freedom of speech and all. In my opinion, it’s not a moral point at all. It’s basic respect and appreciation. I personally labor over my translations, wanting to make it the most enjoyable in English and stay as true to the author’s meaning as possible. Then my editors go over it. So after a team spends hours going over something, and presents it to readers (for free! No paywall here guys), it’s dreadfully hard not to get irked when we get “this novel sucks” or “ur so slow, ur quality sucks” or my favorite — “stop releasing unedited chapters, u quality sucks”. I’m damned if I release fast and damned if I don’t lol.

Imagine getting this for one of your projects. Isn’t it difficult not to get worked up when someone says a project you’re proud is is crap, and that’s all they say? There’s a difference between saying something bad and being constructive. If a reader doesn’t like my work, sure! But you can be a decent human being when expressing that dislike. So many readers don’t exercise basic courtesy when being negative.

Criticism? Sure! Just keep it civil alright? Speak to us in the manner that you’d like to be spoken to. 🙂


  • Stop whining about work you dumb b * tch. If you can’t keep up then let someone much better than you take over.

*tips hat* I once got this on one of my translations. I like to chat about what’s going on in my life sometimes so that I’m not just a faceless machine feeding you guys chapters, and I got greeted with this one fine morning. My heart sank and I really got depressed for a while. I bounced thanks to my hordes of wonderful readers, but had I been less than a year into translating, I might’ve gone “eff you and eff this scene. I’m done.”

“Dude. I love this novel and your translations. So much fun and good quality. Please release more! Cliff is killing me!!”

VS

“Stop whining about work you dumb b * tch. If you can’t keep up then let someone much better than you take over.”

Can we all agree that the former is better and does so much more to motivate a translator? SOTR actually started off at 2x a week. I stepped it up after readers poured fourth how much they love the novel (with seriously, no bashing about speed at all) and that encouraged me to go to 3x a week. Once SOTR moved to WW, the tremendous reader response made me go to 7x a week even when there weren’t enough donations. Just because a novel is currently at 1-2 chapters a week doesn’t mean it’s always going to stay at that! SOTR is going to 10x a week now and even more soon!


  • Whatever. It’s not like any of you have the rights anyways. You’re just pickpockets crying about another thief stealing the wallet you stole.

I’ll definitely say that it’d be nice if we all could get into contact with their authors/the website that holds their contracts and wrap up all negotiations & talks nicely with a snap of our fingers. *snap* As someone who tried everything just short of hiring a private eye to stalk down one of her authors, it’s darned difficult to sometimes. 😀 It’s also a function of how this scene developed. Imagine a translator here or there running up to one of the big raw sites and going, “Hey!! I love this novel! Can I translate it please?”

Right. There would’ve been no response. And this scene wouldn’t have developed and we wouldn’t be sitting here, arguing about translation speeds and which novel has too much filler. 😀 But now that some sites are big enough to actually be able to catch author/site interest, who’s to say these talks aren’t under way? Many novels already have copyright authorizations. Before the above accusation is made… are you sure that the translator/translation site you’re talking about isn’t chatting with the authors? Are you sure some sort of negotiation isn’t under way? Are you absolutely sure that they’re not meeting about this topic right, this, very, second? 😀

 

Or is this all just to justify why a comparatively slower translator should get their project taken away from them? @[email protected]