Found in Translation
Monterey Language Services recently had the pleasure of providing English to Simplified Chinese translation and localization services for the new graphic novel Journey to Gao. The website can be found here, where Monterey Language Services is honored to be listed as the translation provider and as part of the talented team.
This graphic novel project is part a type of new media, a pioneering effort by a handful of creators in search of a new medium for presenting art, story, voice, and music. A pool of talents was gathered for an old-fashioned romantic adventure with elements of Arabian Nights, Cinderella, and the Shangri-la myth. The story depicts a romantic adventure that spans modern-day New York City and the ancient, fictional country of Gao in China. In the midst of modern and old, fiction and non-fiction, West and East, English and Mandarin, romance and mystery, the graphic novel indeed is exotic to watch.
The work has been produced into ten video chapters. To give you a glimpse of our translation work, among what has been published: Chapter 3 has the most translation voices so far. The significant amount of Mandarin presented among English voices indeed makes the graphic novel stand out as a unique and interesting entertainment piece!
Monterey Language Services took extra time to polish the translations into Simplified Chinese to ensure not only accuracy, but an enjoyable and colloquial read for native speakers. Some of the challenges for this project were derived from cultural differences in how to translate certain phrases created specifically for the graphic novel.
For example, we have the “golden doom,” which refers to a specific event in the story. Because the event transports people similarly to the Christian idea of the rapture, our translation was “极乐升天,” which means “bliss ascension” in Chinese language.
One more example of the cultural challenge is rooted in English homonyms. The sentence: “They follow the standard of Lord Kang and swear on his eyes.” In this sentence, what does “standard” mean? If we suggested “average or normal requirement,” it actually would be incorrect! “Standard” in this instance means a battle flag—something ancient soldiers would follow on the battlefield.
Another difficulty was dealing with the ambiguity of written words. In spoken English, a person’s tone can very easily denote sincerity or sarcasm — consider the phrase “good job” being spoken sincerely and being spoken sarcastically, and their meanings become very different. While the context and illustrations in graphic novels can alleviate this confusion in text, sometimes the tone could be just missed. One such problem occurred in our initial translation of “What a stunt,” a line which our translator took be said in admiration, when in actuality, it was an insult. Through our editing/reviewing process we discovered the issue, and the translation was changed from “真是好身手” (really good) to “真有一套,” which has a similar meaning in a more sarcastic tone.
We are incredibly proud of the work we were able to provide for this project, and would like to add more viewing pleasure and excitement by sharing the above behind-the-scenes glimpses to our translation work. We wish all the success to the audience and contributors to the graphic novel. The chapters will be published in video format weekly on YouTube until the tenth and final one is uploaded.