Reminder + Future Plans

Hi folks, just a reminder that I’m slowing back down to weekly updates (~Saturdays) now that book one is finished. I’ve given a lot of thought to scheduling issues, and although I could probably maintain a brisker rate… well, I’ll be blunt: I’m not getting paid for this. (Nor should I be — unless you’re hiring me for something you have the rights to. :P) Hence my months-long breaks from this project in the past…

… which I will try to avoid in the future.

That said, I’d like to take this opportunity to clarify my long-term plans just in case I do disappear for a while again (hopefully not). Most importantly: even if I do go on hiatuses, I’m not likely to abandon the project unless it gets licensed for English-speaking regions. Also, I will be translating the books in order (not sure yet when I’ll do the side story, but probably after I finish “part one” of the series) instead of jumping ahead to where the old OVAs left off, because there’s quite a lot of material the OVAs cut, and more than a few characters got shortchanged. Finally, I plan on adding more supplementary info to the Appendix section as we progress further through the books — in particular I’m looking forward to adding Tanaka’s personal commentary on various characters — but my priority will always be the main books and I intend to keep this site as spoiler-free as possible until the relevant material crops up in the translated storyline.

Yes, this is going to take a while (and by a while I mean years), so be prepared for a long wait. No, I’m not interested in forming or joining a translation team (not even for other Tanaka series; LoGH has had quite a few efforts over the years and I’m not masochistic enough to put in the research for that series nope nope NOPE). That said, I don’t care if you start up your own translation project for the series if I’m too slow for you! Definitely feel free to do so!

If you’re curious though, here’s a rundown on my process and the time commitment involved (teal deer ahoy):

As I mention elsewhere, I translate from both Chinese and Japanese copies. This isn’t because I don’t know Japanese — I’m actually at a pretty decent reading level, though my listening comprehension sucks — but because I have far more confidence in my Chinese skills, and Tanaka’s prose is rather dense. (Compared to modern light novels. Mostly in terms of sentence structure — knowing Chinese makes me a terrible judge of the vocabulary level.)

Anyway, that means I do three “drafts” per update.

1. Content draft (a.k.a. the “crutch” draft)

In which I focus on the Chinese text and just jot down the story as I go along, using whatever phrasing immediately comes to mind. This results in a lot of abbreviated fragments and bizarre Yoda grammar sometimes, depending on how fast I’m rushing this phase. If I take my time, I can get relatively clean copy from this draft, but this is usually wasted when I look back at how the Japanese is worded, so I generally don’t bother unless something clicks. (I do start thinking about wording, but don’t commit to anything at this point.)

Time: up to 1 hr.

2. Phrasing draft

This is the phase in which I put away the Chinese and redraft from the Japanese, cleaning up Yoda grammar and researching random things. Technically I could skip phase 1 and jump directly to this step, but phase 1 actually saves me some time working out complex Japanese grammar/unfamiliar terms from scratch. Alternatively, I could skip this step and translate directly from the Chinese, but as I’ve mentioned before, the Chinese occasionally cuts lines and (very rarely) misinterprets phrases; plus, it’s far more interesting to see the dialogue and various stylistic choices in Japanese, and names/terms are much clearer in Japanese, relatively speaking, due to the nature of the language.

Time: 4-8 hrs, depending on the length and complexity of the section and how much time I waste researching random things.

3. Readability draft

And finally, I completely ignore both Chinese and Japanese texts (except to double-check rough patches) and do a quick independent read-through, tweaking for flow in English. On the translator spectrum of “amount of localization”, my own preference leans toward taking as few liberties as possible (in order to preserve the writer’s original style instead of imposing my own), so some stuff probably still ends up sounding a little stilted due to my inability to figure out a good compromise.

Don’t get me wrong though; readability is VERY important to me, so I do take liberties when I feel it necessary. (I always mention it in notes if it’s a significant change.) In fact, I actually do the majority of my “smoothing out” work in the second draft, but I definitely make quite a few changes in this phase too.

Time: eh, about 30 minutes max, usually less, though I’m a chronic tweaker so I often go back even after this phase to change a word or two (the weakness of my method lies in the fact that occasionally I’ll make subtle parsing errors and not realize it because my interpretation is incorrect but not illogical and this type of mistake is hard to catch)

(Finished) word count: I haven’t been keeping close track, but the English word count per section seems to average anywhere in the 1000-3000 range by the time I’m done. Feel free to convert that to your own words-per-hour calculations. 😛

… And so each update represents about 6-10 hrs of work. Not counting the time I spend on the side for research and skimming through other sources to figure out names and get a better grasp on the material Tanaka is working from, which is actually probably the main time suck. Obviously, I wouldn’t be doing this if I weren’t a HUGE NERD who enjoys this kind of thing. But when I’ve got other stuff on my plate this project falls way down my priority list!

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14 thoughts on “Reminder + Future Plans

  1. I’m a graphic designer and illustrator working in the UK and I’ve been SERIOUSLY enjoying your translation project. Did you fancy collaborating to turn book 1 into a PDF document that you could host on your site with an original cover, etc so that people could save your work to phones and tablets for reading offline? If so get in touch and let me know at bwarren@cascadestudios.co.uk

    • T. E. Waters says:

      Hi! I’m happy to hear you’ve been enjoying it so much, and thank you so much for the very cool offer! However, out of respect for Tanaka and his publishers, I prefer not to have archiveable files available and floating around the net. I know most other fan translators don’t mind, especially for a series that’s so unlikely to see an official English release (much less an ebook release), but as a writer myself, it’s just not a choice I’m comfortable making with someone else’s IP.

      That said, if I ever change my stance on this, I will definitely get in touch!

  2. Viviane says:

    Thank you for all done so far!

  3. burbels says:

    Your work is very impressive! I like your principles of making translation, though I don’t know any asian language, but since Chinese and Japanese share a history with written words, that certainly makes sense and a curious comparison.

    • T. E. Waters says:

      Yup, it’s neat to see what two different cultures did with the same/related writing systems. In some ways it makes it easier to learn one if you already know the other, but it can also suck in other ways (hence my terrible listening comprehension, since I often have no motivation to learn the correct “reading” of a word in Japanese or easily forget XD)

  4. vyselegendaire says:

    Hi again. Thanks for the update, very informative look @ your work process. For a one-man project this is clearly a gargantuan task, but with your organizational skills, commitment, and diligence its clearly got the most decent chance it has ever had of completion.

    For those of you who want to archive these works you can do so with a web crawlers or simply saving the page as .webarchive or some such. Not required to have them in neat .pdfs or anything.

    • T. E. Waters says:

      Aw, thanks. I don’t think it’s really diligence so much as it is stubbornness + nerdiness though. XD It’s a pretty intimidating project even for a team!

      And yeah, I think there are ways to archive tumblr blogs or anything with an RSS feed — I don’t mind if people do things like that for private use.

  5. Hi! I’m the person that’s working on the current attempt to translate LoGH. I’m really glad you haven’t given up either. I feel like we’re in this together! Haha.

    I don’t plan to give up either. Hopefully in 10 years we’ll both be done with these series.

    By the way, I love your website design. I tried to do something similar but I failed miserably.

    • T. E. Waters says:

      *waves*

      Yeah, haha, hard to imagine ten years ahead, but it should be fun to see how far we get! XD Good luck!

      re: site design — in my experience with various blogging platforms, I find WordPress is the most powerful/flexible. This is actually just one of the free themes they offer (I didn’t have to do much tweaking myself at all). I use Blogger for other stuff too, and although it’s nice in the sense that everything is super streamlined and convenient, it’s practically impossible to make things look organized there. :/

  6. renuac says:

    This seems like a good place to say that you are as heroic as Arslan for taking on this project and for putting in the time, energy and research to bring out such a polished translation. Thank you very much for the hugely enjoyable read, both in terms of the actual translation and with regards to your copious and frankly fascinating translation notes 🙂

  7. röllen says:

    Thank you so much, I really enjoyed the first book. You’ve done great work.

  8. Ari says:

    Wow, thank you so much for doing this translation!! Your hard work is greatly appreciated! ^O^

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