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Subject: Understandable rules translations rss

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I'm a French native who's been living in the UK for 10 years, I'm a translator and (d'errr!) a boardgame geek.

Because the translations that exist are sometimes hard to decipher (though occasionally quite funny), I've occasionally translated rules for fun and am still happy to do so (feel free to ask).

I've got 2 questions for you all:
Do you care about the quality of the translation when you're buying a game?
Do you think games creators/manufacturers do?

Cheers.
 
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Jim Cote
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I care a great deal about the English translations, but if I can get official answers here to all my questions, I'll buy the game anyways. It seems to me that many non-English publishers don't even put in a single day's effort to translate their rules into English. There are lots of awkward phrases, incorrect words, bad grammar--all leading to possible ambiguities. There's also incorrect hyphenation, which is surprising since it shows they aren't even using simple spellchecker tools. Making a reasonable effort to translate natively is just one of the many things that gives me a good feeling about a company and a game. If I can find 30 problems in one pass through the rules, then they didn't do their job.
 
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Michelle Zentis
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I usually don't read the English rules before buying a game, so it's unlikely to influence my initial decision. An appallingly bad rules translation is likely to influence subsequent purchasing decisions from that publisher, however.

Some publishers do care, and if you stick around you're likely to see requests for assistance with rule translations. Sandtimer Publishers, for example, sent out the rules for Experiment several times for feedback, and according to the game designer they were really happy with the results.

Other publishers, however, don't seem to get it at all. Pfifficus is #1 on my list for translations so murky that they're almost incomprehensible. Ooh, so if I pick "Revalorize" I can permanently increase the drawing distance for own ships? Great... maybe... hunh?
 
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Eric
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I care, when I see a translation where the sentence structure is way off, and that it looks like babelfish translation, the game seems less interresting. It's almost an insult. When I think of the French translation for Rukshuk, it says for "Ages 8 and up" it says "Les âges 8 et haut"; it's like translating it for "the ages 8 and high".

How can I thrust that I understand the rules? If there is an English translation, I can use it, but to play it with my kids, I want to buy the games in French! So yes, it's important to me to have a good translation.
 
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Lori
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I totally care! Bad translation can ruin the game. We've probably all seen this happen. And it's really maddening, because it seems like it would be so little effort for publishers to get it right, relative to how extremely important it is. There are certainly many people in the international gaming community conveniently collected here on BGG who would be glad to help for free.
 
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Dave and Gwen Fogel
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We are relatively new as "game buyers" but almost as a rule, we don't buy games unless there are English rules available or we have played the game before. This year was our first trip to Essen and we discovered a temptation to buy non-English editions. We still restricted ourselves to game that don't require translation DURING the game (ie cards with text).

On a side note, it seems to me that BGG has become a crutch for translations. Point is, I want to thank the folks like "TangGirl" who do translations for "fun". Your contribution is part of what makes board gaming a tight and supportive community.
 
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Melissa
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ekted wrote:
It seems to me that many non-English publishers don't even put in a single day's effort to translate their rules into English.


It seems to me that many non-English publishers don't even put in a single day's effort to translate their rules into English.

soblue
 
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Joe Grundy
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Dunno. It can be really really hard to find someone who is native in two languages. Which means you need a dialog ... someone native in the target language plus fluent in the source language needs to chat with someone who is fluent in the source language or fluent in the game. I doubt it's easy to arrange. And even if you can, the costs are probably worth the margins on a coupla hundred of the first sales of most games.

Not to say I don't prefer flowing translations, just that I can see it's not necessarily lack of will on the part of a publisher.

Heck, even with rules first published in English, think of the number of misinterpretations and rules questions that arise.
 
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Michelle Zentis
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jgrundy wrote:
Dunno. It can be really really hard to find someone who is native in two languages. Which means you need a dialog ... someone native in the target language plus fluent in the source language needs to chat with someone who is fluent in the source language or fluent in the game. I doubt it's easy to arrange. And even if you can, the costs are probably worth the margins on a coupla hundred of the first sales of most games.


Agreed, but if you have access to something like BGG you don't need to find one extremely talented and therefore expensive person who can do it all. All you need is somebody reasonably fluent in two languages (not hard to find in Europe) to do the original rule translations; then you can farm out the translation to native speakers of the target language for editing. If the editors understand the original language they can compare the translation with the original if a question comes up, but even that's not necessary. The most important thing is just to have at least one native speaker who games look over the rules translation to see whether it makes sense!
 
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Melissa
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jgrundy wrote:
Dunno. It can be really really hard to find someone who is native in two languages.


Now you're thinking of Australia, Joe.

It is not hard at all to find people who are near-native in two languages.
 
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Robert DiChiara
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For me, it depends on which “me” is buying the game. The “game player” me is frustrated if a non-US game has no translation or is translated in quasi-Tarzan (Me throw dice. You move.) That’s why I’m happy when a new game like Mr. Jack is multi-lingual right from the get go. However, the “game collector” me buys games that appeal on various levels, its look, its theme, what TV show or movie it’s based on, just to have a game about it. For instance, I have a game from Spain based on the old TV Sci-Fi series “V”, happy to have it, even unplayed. Or my Gozilla Electronic Wargame with its Tokyo game board , little monster minis and hand-held battle computer looking like Mattel Electronic Football. I’ll probably never find a translation for that, but I still like owning it as part of my collection.

I do have a few that I’d like to translate for playing purposes, even though I know they’re probably less than stellar games. One is a Men In Black II game from Tilsit that my friend and I would love to play for a laugh. Another Tilsit is an Angel game, based on the Buffy spin off. And the third is a game from the late 80's, a French-Canadian game called James Bond 007 Le Jeu with an illustrated picture of Timothy Dalton on the cover, two Bonds ago. I have all three sets of rules, but no translations. If you’d like a try at any or all of them, I’d love to have them translated and we can put it on BBG. I could even send whatever paltry geek gold I have your way for the effort. LMK.
 
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(Mr.) Kim Beattie
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It's clear that by not including English (or other language) translations of rules that the publisher is not thinking about or targeting a larger market. It's a matter of cost, of course. Will the expense of a good rules translation be offset by increased sales? I would think the answer is an obvious yes, but maybe some publishers just don't see the big picture. ("I'm German, I publish games for Germans. I don't care about the rest of the world.")

I would think that getting a good English translation would be fairly easy. I get the impression that English is a second language for a large part of (Western) Europe. (I mean more Europeans speak functional English than Americans speak functional European languages.) I would guess there is a large pool of potential translators that could be utilized. But that's just a guess.

It's only now, thirty years later, that I really regret not paying attention in German class.
 
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Jim Cote
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kimbo wrote:
It's a matter of cost, of course. Will the expense of a good rules translation be offset by increased sales?


Many BGG'ers would do it for free.
 
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Steve+Jackie McKeogh
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Indeed, I'm generally happy to do translations: both for other BGG users and free of charge for small publishers.
 
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Ákos Tasnádi
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Dunno. It can be really really hard to find someone who is native in two languages. Which means you need a dialog ... someone native in the target language plus fluent in the source language needs to chat with someone who is fluent in the source language or fluent in the game. I doubt it's easy to arrange. And even if you can, the costs are probably worth the margins on a coupla hundred of the first sales of most games.

You don't have to be native in two languages. It's enough if you are native in the target language. Sure, you have to know the source language - but the rules are very easy texts usually. (Heck, I can traslate rules from German, if I must.)

But play the game. Ask a native, if you have questions, if you are not sure.

These are my rules when I make my just-for-fun translations (from English to Hungarian) - and these are the rules I have to break all the time when I make my official translations.


Heck, even with rules first published in English, think of the number of misinterpretations and rules questions that arise.

Or some minor errors. One more reason to translate the rules - maybe the translators will find them before the printing. Crede mihi experto.
 
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Melissa
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kimbo wrote:
It's clear that by not including English (or other language) translations of rules that the publisher is not thinking about or targeting a larger market.


Oh, nonsense.

Most of the larger German-language publishes already have deals with companies like Mayfair and Rio Grande to republish the games in English - and if they don't, then they probably are hoping for them. Others, like Ravensburger, have their own English-language lines.

An English language version will be far more profitable than English rules in a German box - and a far better way to think about AND target the larger market.
 
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Mitch Burgess
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TangGirl wrote:
I'm a French native who's been living in the UK for 10 years, I'm a translator and (d'errr!) a boardgame geek.

Because the translations that exist are sometimes hard to decipher (though occasionally quite funny), I've occasionally translated rules for fun and am still happy to do so (feel free to ask).

I've got 2 questions for you all:
Do you care about the quality of the translation when you're buying a game?
Do you think games creators/manufacturers do?

Cheers.
TangGirl,I feel well assured by your blog to ask: Will you translate the rules for the game of Three Rings? If you go to www.freewebs.com/threeringsgame you will find the new game I have created. Perhaps you will be intrigued by it. In Canada, the French language constitutes for a large part of the COuntry, and I would like the game to be available for all of my country folk to know. Hope you enjoy-Ree
 
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Fraser
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TangGirl wrote:
Do you care about the quality of the translation when you're buying a game?

Yes
TangGirl wrote:
Do you think games creators/manufacturers do?

Creators - Yes
Manfacturers - Not so much
 
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