Since I have picked up Sword Art Online for a translation, this site has undergone somewhat of a small explosion in popularity, along with many comments about the quality of the work I do. I want to take this opportunity to suggest some ideas I have on this topic.
If you are unaware, I am a Chinese to English translator; therefore, it’s not unreasonable to assume that I cannot read Japanese and thus cannot verify that my translations are entirely accurate to the original Japanese text. I only translate from existing Chinese resources: be it the official release or a fan translation. Unless I master Japanese fluency down the road, that is where I will stay. Stay with me: I’m going to attempt to posit to you what it feels like to be a translator.
This has to do specifically with highly popular works such as Sword Art Online due to many factors:
1. There is considerable pressure to produce a high-quality output. If you have the opportunity, I highly suggest attempting to start a publication by yourself, or at least rationally imagine doing so. Unless you have experienced the feeling of having an expectant audience to deliver to, you will most likely have difficulty understanding my mentality.
2. There will be comparison to others. This is quite subjective as it is purely in my case, so I will attribute it directly to SAO. The only reason I’m translating SAO is for the benefit of the community. There is an existing translator of SAO, Tap, who produces with decent quality, but since he is slower than people would like, I have taken to letting people read the general idea first, and when Tap’s version releases, direct them to that in order to flesh out the details.
3. This is voluntarily free. I’ve said it before: I will never monetize my translations. If you see ads here, those are there because of WordPress. I cannot remove them without a yearly subscription. Since this is merely hobby, I will not readily spend money on this project unless there is a much larger cause. However, since this is free, it becomes difficult to deal with a tough crowd – such is the case with most translators.
My situation has greatly improved since the beginning of this project – I now have two editors who perform fantastically, and I am deeply grateful for their help. I expect that this project will continue to develop into something competent and appreciable, and one of the next steps I will take in that direction is to limit the promises I make. I quickly find that I am unable to honor most of them and in turn disappoint.
Enough of the tangent. The fact of the matter is that translating is not a cakewalk. By no means should this post be considered accusatory: I am merely attempting to convey some sense of what I do in order to help people appreciate it more. To appropriately apply the old and wizened adage: “By the fans, for the fans.”
Also, if you’re wondering, Sword Art Online Volume 15 Chapter 16 will be released this weekend, and please expect Kokoro Connect Volume 5 Chapter 3 soon.