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May 03, 2006

"...she made loud laughter between a negative confrontation."

This industrious fellow seems to be attempting to translate Old Man's War in to Chinese, which I'm not entirely sure the company who owns the rights to produce the Chinese version of the book will much appreciate. He seems to be up to Chapter Four or thereabouts.

Not being able to read Chinese, I can't say how well the translation is working, although I can say the Google translation of the translation is amusing enough. For example, the opening line of the book via Google Translate now reads, "75 birthday, I have done two things. I went to the wife to destroy, I participated in the army." Which is not exactly what I wrote. Some of you who read Chinese will have to let me know if the actual translation this fellow is attempting is any better.

You might also want to drop him a note suggesting to him that while I'm quite happy he's enjoying the book and wishes to share, I can't be responsible if Science Fiction World's thugs come by and rough him up for playing with something they have the Chinese rights to. So he might want to wrap it up. OMW will be out in Chinese soon enough.

Posted by john at May 3, 2006 01:47 PM

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Comments

Paul | May 3, 2006 02:17 PM

OK, I gotta ask. The guy's site appears to be entirely in Chinese. How the hell do you manage to stuble across something like that, and have any idea it's about you?

John Scalzi | May 3, 2006 02:22 PM

My author-sense was tingling.

Mdean | May 3, 2006 02:24 PM

So youve been bitten by a radioactive typewriter?

John Scalzi | May 3, 2006 02:26 PM

It was actually a radioactive dot-matrix printer, but, yes.

Rachel | May 3, 2006 02:38 PM

Does that mean that if people annoy you, you can pixellate them?

JC | May 3, 2006 03:00 PM

I read the first paragraph as:
"On my 75th birthday, I did two things. I visited my wife's grave. Afterwards, I joined the army."

(I supppose the 2nd sentence might be more literally translated as "I visited a grave on behalf of my wife" but I think the implication is that it's his wife's grave.)

JC | May 3, 2006 03:46 PM

Just because I was curious, the second paragraph goes like (very freely, and not at all literally translated):

"Visiting Kathy's grave was the less dramatic of the two. She was buried in Harris Creek Cemetary, only a mile away from where I was born and where we bore and raised children. Burying her was harder than I had imagined. Neither of us had prepared for death. so no one made any arrangements. To use more refined language, this really caused a deep heartache to go argue with the cemetary manager on account of my wife not having made a burial appointment. In the end, my son Charlie, who happened to be the mayor, beat the heads of a few tools, to get, finally, a piece of land. Being the father of the major truly has its advantages."

(Caveat: I had to look up a few words. So there are at least a few places where my back-translation is a bit suspect. e.g. "beat the heads of a few tools" The word I translated as "tools" is colloquial so there's probably a better meaning that I don't know. In any case, this is not a literal translation. e.g., I moved everything back into English sentence structure.)

Paul | May 3, 2006 04:25 PM

And what does "stuble" mean anyway? I mean, thanks for deleting my embarrassing double post, and all, but you couldn't have corrected my egregious spelling error while you were at it?

John Scalzi | May 3, 2006 04:37 PM

What am I, your personal spell checker?

Jaquandor | May 3, 2006 05:49 PM

Oh, man. I loved your book, but shit, I really want to read the one that has John Perry "going to his wife to destroy". That's just GOT to be a pageturner!

Amused | May 3, 2006 10:57 PM

I would say that his translation is quite all right. I don't read many Chinese novels though, so I am not able to judge the actual literary qualities (word play, style, etc.).

Although if I were the publishing house, I could use his work for a comparison with the one that is being done by my translators. For free.

This could be a win-win situation.

Durf | May 4, 2006 10:56 AM

Hope you don't think the company that owns the rights has a chance at stopping bootleg translations from coming out . . . In any case you're in interesting company.

John Scalzi | May 4, 2006 11:00 AM

Well, I'm not particularly worried about it, if that's what you're asking.

zhwj | May 4, 2006 11:09 AM

The folks here seem to think it's a decent job. I think so, too, but then I haven't gotten my hands on a copy of the original. I've left a note in that thread pointing back here.

I'm not sure that SFW would care much, for a couple of reasons. (A) It's probably not worth the effort to try and get it pulled, since it could always turn up elsewhere. Several online Harry Potter translations outraced the official one last year, and the publishers realized they really couldn't do much more than crack down on printed copies. (B) The official translation will probably be online a few weeks after it hits stands, anyway. Not too sure how this affects print sales, but judging from the number of best-sellers that have simultaneous authorized online serializations, it probably isn't too big of a problem.

And, for what it's worth, the translator's review: "What attracted me most to this novel wasn't the story but rather the language style. Those who know me know that I am a fan of hard-boiled stories. My passion for Raymond Chandler is like a disciple's worship for his master, and Dashiell Hammett, Chimes, and Lawrence Block are naturally on the list of writers I love. Right as I opened this book, not ten pages in, I felt...was this not the integrity of an elderly Philip Marlowe? Talking over and over to himself, flirting with every girl (or woman or old woman) he meets, the bitter humor, and from time to time the chivalrous risks. So reading this book was like returning to a different time, only the setting was larger. Just this, old friends are still old friends."

renjieyao | May 4, 2006 12:47 PM

Hi,I am just the translator's friend and have been doing some proof reading job for his translation.
So, I think the Chinese translation is acceptable, although it hasn't reached the level of original novel.

Thank you for your attitude to the bootleg translation.

John Scalzi | May 4, 2006 01:07 PM

Well, as long as everyone who's enjoying his translation buys the printed version when it comes out, I think that'd be fine.

zhwj | May 6, 2006 11:48 AM

And it's over. In the thread I linked above, the translator gives his reasons for halting the translation and offers, in English, an apology for infringing on your copyright.

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