Chinese Videogame Criticism Translator’s notes

Author: Dino Zhang
2017-05-31
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I do not have any professional training in translation although I do have some prior experience in academic translation. My home discipline is anthropology, which has a peculiar approach to translation. However, in my ethnographic writings, translation is often only limited to special terms, idioms, phrases, memes, and longer transcription of dialogues. In this project, the work of translation is vastly different because I am dealing with articles in full-length rather than abridged terms, which I can then explicate in English. This obviously poses a challenge for me to accommodate to the various styles of writing and make them intelligible to English readers while retaining some of the original flavour. Thus it is necessary to outline my key approaches to translation:

(1) I translate the key terminology in literal language word by word first then explain further the context and attached meanings in footnotes or brackets so as to not break the flow of original text. So if you find some words confusing please look for an explanation in brackets and footnotes. Please also note the brackets original authors use will be “( )” while translator’s words will be in “[]”.

(2) Metaphors are good vehicles for writers to convey their ideas effectively. Sometimes writers use metaphors directly of English or European origin then it’s easy to trace back to the original wording in English. Most of the time, according to editors of the pioneering magazine Game Criticism, the writings are “original contents written by Mainland [China] authors; in other words, it is written for Chinese people by Chinese people. It is purely Chinese in both perspective and style.” If we take this claim for granted, then we are sort of violating the original intention of these writings.

However, the historical values lie exactly in these “purely” Chinese perspectives no matter how questionable these claims of purity are. That's why I have emphasised the annotated nature of my translation because I feel obliged to situate these texts into the socio-historical contexts of their time. They are often marginalised primary materials and testimonies of the pioneers of games industry and gaming community. These annotations are to be found both in footnotes and a translator’s note before the main text.

(3) If I encounter a foreign language other than Chinese and English—in most cases, Japanese—I will stick to the conventions of English translation of Japanese terms rather than Chinese convention.

(4) For certain categorical terms such as TV game or console games and PC games as well as the emergence of danjiyouxi (single player games), their meaning have shifted drastically over the years in China. As I gradually approach to genealogy of games history in China, I will also reference many academic and journalistic English writings to highlight the importance of these critiques made by natives. Snippets of reflections will be initially in footnotes and translator’s notes. Thus I do not conceal my voice as a translator but attach my reflexive thoughts in the translation.

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