The Curious case of double translation

or How I learnt that we need a JP Proofreader

As some of the readers may know that I like to jokingly refer to myself as “Bootleg Nigel” on discord, a little nod to our lord and savior Nigel who translates the overlord LN. This is due to the fact that I translate in a style very similar to Nigel, which both of us (for the light novel at least) uses Chinese as direct source of translation. We both translate extremely fast as a result as compared to grinding the Japanese source.

This does leave us with the question of accuracy. While Chinese source is likely the best alternative to the original, it may very well have misinterpretation that do not necessarily adhere to the intention of the source. I’ve had discussion with him in the past that the CN source of Overlord LN would use phrases directly lifted from the Japanese source that don’t necessary have the same meaning in Chinese. I thought this could be addressed with proofread of specific terms that I find problematic and examine with the JP source, but it seems to be insufficient. Question that is beyond my bootleg moonrunes skill has come to my attention.

Some very helpful Japanese speaking redditor has pointed out mistakes in my translation as a result of double translation:

(JP) 賛成よ。ワタクシ達は、ここ十年で大きく勢力を伸ばした。その結果、少しばかり増長してしまっていた。

(CN ) 我赞成。我们这十年来培养庞大势力。就结果看来,已一点一滴成长茁壮。

(EN ) Yes. Our organization has grown a lot in the past ten years. And we have been most fruitful when working bit-by-bit.

Volume 7 Prologue

“少しばかり増長してしまっていた” is somewhat vague in this context, it is either referring to “‘Power of organization’ has grown a little”, or meaning that “‘It (Our ego)’ has grown as the result of the growth of our organization.” or “as a result, we’ve grown a bit conceited.”

The latter certainly makes more sense, but just like how the Chinese source made the mistake of misinterpreting the line, it is likely that I would make a similar mistake as well if checking this sentence alone. This on top of the fact that I don’t have the time irl to proofread every line with JP source really means either we will have to bear the risk of such mistake iterating in the future as well (albeit somewhat minor as long as it is not story-integral), or we need to recruit a JP proofreader who can commit to check the translation with the sources.

This is perhaps a somewhat alarming sign, but I think it also indicates a lot of room for improvement. As I mentioned before, we are working on revising the two volumes we’ve posted to hopefully improve overall quality for the readers, and if by any chance we ever gained the help of JP proofreader, it will significantly improve the quality.

While this certainly makes me feel rather bad as a translator who can’t seem to bring 100% accuracy to the reader, I still enjoy doing this and can only hope that my moonrunes skill imrpoves and that I would have more time to ensure the quality of my work. And hopefully this post would serve to explain the discrepancy some may feel when comparing my translation to the JP source.



2 thoughts on “The Curious case of double translation

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