About translation

This will be a post about my work as a translator.


Finding this job was a total accident: I was forced to stay in a city I didn’t know for a long time, got to know the writer, and when he found out I was a translator, he said it was “the kind of coincidence you’d see in a movie.” I agreed with that statement, because, firstly, I had been looking for a job for quite some time, and secondly, I got pretty excited when I found out more details about the job. After years of translating mostly shows about hunting and sports, Russian TV series, and documents, I was glad to translate anything less depressing even for free; but as it was, it was a no-brainer.

Speaking of the details: this was the first time in my life when I’d had to deal with VCS’s (or version control systems), since all the work gets done through them. For laymen, it’s something like a multiplayer cloud service that allows a whole bunch of people to work on a project (usually some sort of program) and make changes remotely. Of course, random screw-ups and cryptic error messages like “errno1488: heading directory parent merged with ur mum hahahahaha” happen all the time; in fact, the boss and I only fixed one of those screw-ups minutes before I started writing this post. Usually this is done through entering various commands (I have a very dim understanding of what they actually do) through the console, which is kind of fun: as a humanities student, it makes me feel like a hacker from an 80s movie in front of a giant screen that says PASSWORD, and I giggle.

Translating the material is always almost followed by discussions (or arguments) with the writer. As a result of those, some minor lore elements were changed, which is quite pleasant: you feel like you’re part of the team, not just some hired freelancer.


As it often happens, the most fun moments were results of random obstacles in my work. For example, one time, when I had already translated a good deal of dialogue with the player’s officers, I suddenly found out that Gordon was British. I had never even suspected it, since it had never come up while talking to the writer or the boss. I had to read all the text I had translated looking for Americanisms, so that our Welshman doesn’t look weird saying things like “wrench” or “soda pop.” Another time, my work came to a halt for almost half a day when I realized a certain quest name was a pun, and then I walked around the house with a cup of tea in my hand, trying to come up with a translation, going through every expression or even word that had to do with the theme (I even googled some glossaries). I wouldn’t say I’m proud of the end result, but I’m not particularly ashamed of it either. In fact, the writer’s texts are full of puns and humor, which is a good thing: sometimes I’ll laugh at them myself, and every good translation of those things feels like a small victory.

All in all, this job (or maybe a gig? who really cares, the team of this project doesn’t really like defining things rigidly) is definitely the best one I’ve had in a long time. For the first time in God knows how long, I try to make quality translations not because of greedy ulterior motives, but just because I want to.


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