Thursday, May 8, 2008

Our Translation Process; Poll

Hi everyone, Shion here.  I thought you might be interested to learn a bit about how we're conducting our project.

I have more experience with Japanese than Mion, so I specialize in translating from Japanese to English.  I use a combination of JEDict, my Canon Wordtank, the ALC website, and my JLPT Level 1&2 grammar references to put together a somewhat literal rendering.  Sometimes they use an expression that I can't find even with those, in which case I use Japanese Google or Japanese Wikipedia to see what context that expression shows up in.  If even that fails, I make an extremely literal translation of it with a note that it needs to be looked at later.

Once I have a whole day finished, I send it to my sister Mion for adaptation.  She takes the sentences I wrote, which are usually pretty stilted and Japanese-like, and fixes them to sound more like natural English while still conveying the same information or feeling as the original.  She knows some Japanese, so she's able to check the original for particles such as 'ne' or 'yo' to make sure the adaptation matches the mood fairly closely, not to mention checking for the characters' speaking quirks to make sure they each have a unique and consistent voice in English.  She'll also look at the tricky spots I noted, and can often make a good guess at what they're supposed to mean based on the flow of the script and what was said/happening before or after it.  

After making a first-pass through the script for that day/chapter, Mion uses IM to send me bits of the script to make sure it matches what I remember it saying, and we discuss those tricky parts and usually figure them out between the two of us.  I also point out places that still seem a bit stilted, and suggest smoother readings.  It helps to be a bit removed from the original Japanese to do this effectively, so it's not a bad thing for me to be a bit ahead of Mion in my part of the work :-).  

After the second run-through, Mion prepares the beta patches and makes them available to our nice beta-testers, who then play through the new material and make suggestions.  We may not always do exactly what they suggest, but their comments do bring up important points that we think about very carefully, so we appreciate them all.  We discuss the ideas with each other, Mion makes more fixes, and if we think it's ready she makes the release patches and uploads them to Rapidshare and Mediafire for all of you to enjoy!  


We're always refining our adaptation based on new information, including the earlier days in the story, and are always happy to hear any suggestions you have to improve it.  For example, we're considering how best to provide "translation notes" for the game, to explain some of the uniquely Japanese terms that occur in the story.  For example, 'takoyaki' and 'miko', which appeared in day 9, or 'ohagi', which will appear in the next update (EEEK!).  Not to mention some culture-specific ideas such as the Japanese penchant for building a new house instead of moving into a previously-owned one, or the mysterious Echigoya ^_^.  

We've been trying to introduce such explanations in a way that doesn't disrupt the flow of the story, but it would be nice to explain it further, and there are a number of ways we could provide that information.  Take a look at the poll on the sidebar, which will be open until the end of the month, and please let us know which way you would prefer we include the notes, and add a comment to this post if you want to be more specific.  Thanks and look forward to more creepiness in the near future!