It is very easy for bad translations to be normalized. It becomes accepted that good translations are seen as bad. As someone who have worked with multiple translators, I have had multiple discussions about this with them. Of course, you do not have to take my word for it.

Famous translators like etvolare point this out also:

Translator Musings: Who is Ben, and why does he have a gong and a wang?


Hey everyone, I just posted my inaugural post on random translation musings, in which I share some thoughts on possible best practices and reflections after two years of webnovel translations. Of course, these are my opinions and preferences only, take ‘em with a boulder sized grain of pink salt! And this scandalous Ben fellow certainly has a party going on!

“Wangye, nubi apologizes for the slight to da furen! Nucai’s zhuzi wanted to bring erye’s gift into the wangfu, but er furen once told san taitai that she’s allergic to flowers so xiaode used the chaos of wansuiye’s arrival to put erye’s gift into the dafang!”

Today I’d like to address a pet peeve that’s creeped in over the years—leaving pinyin in novel translations. This is most frequently done for forms of address, cultivation ranks, and location names. Did… did anyone here make sense of that first quote? Did you want to close this article?? Don’t gooooo! Of course, it was exaggerated due to consideration of space, since posting 200 chapters to illustrate a point is silly.

Imagine being a reader and coming back to this beauty after a month of exams/crazy work and following 20+ novels at the same time. Rather than follow all the ins and outs of this, a reader might just give up. Or, they might barely get that there’s some drama about something, and wonder why some apparently random revenge plot breaks out a few chapters later.

The opening quote is about a servant babbling reasons why she offended the senior madame. Senior madame wanted to bring the second master’s gift into the prince’s residence, but second madame once told the third wife 1 that the former is allergic to flowers. Therefore, the servant used the chaos of the emperor’s arrival to stick the gift (presumably of flowers) randomly into senior madame’s residence. Right, who got all that after major cameos from what I call the Alphabet Soup clan?

I’ve discussed this with some folks before and some prefer pinyin for the flavor. The non-English words lend an air of authenticity, and truthfully, it’s so much easier to not translate something and leave it in pinyin. However, I feel that defaulting to pinyin is a hindrance to fully enjoying a novel. It makes people pause when they reach the pinyin, try to decipher this new word, and recall the definition. All this takes away from them purely enjoying and reacting to the novel itself. Instead, they’re tripping over Alphabet Soup clan members.

“Prince, sluga apologizes for the slight to wielka dama! Stowry’s mistrz wanted to bring drugi mistrz’s gift into the dwor ksiazecy, but panie dwa once told trzecia zona that she’s allergic to flowers so ten sluga used the chaos of cesarz’s arrival to put drugi mistrz’s gift into the dworek!”

The pinyin was switched to Polish in this version, thanks to help from the wonderful TranslationRaven over at WW. It might look like a train wreck to fellow translators now. That’s also probably how it appears to newcomers of translated novels—which, are what most new readers tend to be. I think even long-time fans of translated novels would find this an utter headache to wade through. Instead of being engrossed in the story, we’re hung up on how foreign, weird, and strange everything is.

[Skipping half of the article because of pictures and formatting @@]

The beizi only smirked coldly when he saw the beile, and both were taken aback when Huang jiangjun strode in and took a seat without a word of greeting.

After reading this, it’s apparent that lots and lots of drama is about to erupt. Or is it? A beizi is a Prince of the Fourth Rank, whereas a beile is a Prince of the Third Rank. So for the former to not greet his higher ranked brother respectfully… well that is a very big deal. And Huang jiangjun aka General Huang? How dare he walk in and take a seat without acknowledging the two royal princes? Some epic face slapping is about to explode in the next paragraph after this. But by leaving everything in pinyin, we’re bereft of the subtle undercurrents.

[continued on volare… sorry for not pasting the whole thing in, the formatting and pictures kept getting messed up @@]

Full article here:

PS. It’s my first time writing something like this, so if you liked it and would like to see more, please leave a comment!

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