How We Operate
As we draw closer to completing the first-pass translation, we’ve noticed some confusion among members of the community, and we feel it’s about time we set the record straight.
As the three columns of percentages in the table in our latest progress update imply, all work on the project up until this month has been part of the “translation” phase, which is only the first of three phases. Here we take the Japanese text and—through an awfully complex process that we’ll spare you a thesis on—convert it into English. This part of the process is what people think of when talking about “translation”—going from one language to another.
However, in reality, it doesn’t stop there. Given the complexity of the process (and of language as a whole), even once the translation is complete, it always has a lot of room for improvement. That is where translation checking (TLC) and editing come in.
All right, what does TLCing and Editing entail?
First, we have translation checkers. Their main job is to compare the English text with the original script, seeking places where the translator misunderstood the intended meaning, accidentally changed the nuance of the sentence, used the wrong terminology, etc. This may sound simple and quick, but here’s where it gets complicated: when an issue is found, the translation checker must be able to modify the line so it requires little to no editing, as additional editing may introduce new issues. This is especially important when doing final checks on a script after the editing has already been completed. Speaking of editing…
To put it briefly, the job of an editor is to go through the English text and polish the prose. This means looking out for awkward phrasing, ensuring consistency of vocabulary and style, fixing grammar and punctuation, and many other tasks. The problem is this: a literal Japanese-to-English translation tends to read stiffly in English, leading to a worse reader experience, but the further the editor modifies the line away from the original phrasing, the likelier the editor is to accidentally change the meaning, tone, nuance, or some other important aspect of the line. Thus, throughout the editing process, the editor needs to take caution to not over-impose their own style or stray too far from the intention of the writer, all while making sure to ask the translator for clarification when needed. It’s a balancing act, one could say, especially for an editor who cannot read the original Japanese (as ours cannot).
The complexity of these processes—combined with the fact that we can’t put as much time in as professionals—means that it will take us several months to get through the remaining phases. Fortunately, the TLC and editing phases will be able to progress alongside each other (as our editor is able to edit scenes as soon as they’ve been TLC’d), which will considerably shorten the duration of the project. But still, we want to set the right expectations, so we’ll state it outright: the NOAH translation project will likely not be finished within the next few months. The game is long, and we want our team members to take care of themselves before anything else.
On another note
As you may have noticed earlier, we mentioned before that we also do final checks on a script following the editing process. This is another thing we would like to clarify.
In truth, we will be doing two separate translation checks. The reason for that is—as you might know if you read our first progress report—there are several translators working on NOAH instead of the standard one or two. They are all extremely capable, and we’re more than pleased with their results, but this set-up does have some issues. See, the nature of a translation very much depends on the style of its translators, and having multiple translators tends to result in a lack of stylistic consistency.
So, the first translation check is an in-depth revision that will also smooth out the differences in styles. Although normally the editor would be responsible for stylistic consistency, it’s easy to distort the nuance of the untranslated text when consolidating this many styles. Meanwhile, a skilled translator who also has a good understanding of editing can do it without losing sight of the writer’s intentions. It makes the project take longer, but the result is worth the time investment. Fortunately, the person currently in charge has experience with this sort of task.
Finally, a second, less-intensive translation check will deal with any inaccuracies introduced during the editing process. This one shouldn’t take long, as the first translation check will have already tackled the bulk of inaccuracies from the first-pass translation. In other words, this pass exists mainly to deal with any remaining questions and issues from the editing pass. We call it “TL Review.” (This one isn’t listed in the progress table since it will occur alongside testing.)
To summarize all that mumbo jumbo: the NOAH project’s release is going to take at least a few more months, as the script still has two more thorough passes to go through (TLC and editing), and one more less-rigorous check afterward. And the reason TLC is expected to take longer on this project than on some other projects is because our TLCer will need to revise the translation for stylistic consistency, as some inconsistencies inevitably arise as a consequence of having multiple translators.
Well, that’s about everything we’ve got for you. We hope this was interesting and helped you understand a little bit more about what’s going on behind the curtain here at CoZ. Now, here’s your door back to the April 1st progress report if you weren’t finished reading it, because you’ll definitely want to.
See you later!