Translating on Danbooru is one major way to contribute, since many images need translating. Danbooru utilizes a unique soft-translation system that enables translations to appear on images which are written in their native, non-English languages. However, there are a few rules and guides to stick to when it comes to translating. This is to keep the quality of translations up.
Things to keep in mind before you start translating
- Make sure you completely understand what they're saying. It's worse to have an image translated badly, than to not have it translated at all. This is because poorly translated images tagged as translated will no longer show up in searches for translation_request, and the readers won't know it's bad. If you're unsure, don't translate; leave a comment on the image with your interpretation and a request for confirmation instead.
- Translations should be fully English if possible. Ideally, it shouldn't contain any Japanisms such as ~ and similar symbols that don't exist in English. However, leave honorifics in place. They're an extremely important clue that does not map to the English system of Ms./Mr. at all.
- Similarly, don't use Japanese words if a good English term exists. This may seem like an obvious thing, but there are a lot of translators who don't agree with this.
- But don't go overboard with the above. While not translating "hai" is stupid, "shinigami" is questionable (and you can find good arguments either way), and touching "senpai" at all is just plain dumb. If you have to choose between accuracy, understanding, and English, it's better to sacrifice English than understanding or accuracy.
- Make sure you understand the original completely.
- Don't translate just the parts in katakana, or two random bubbles you happened to understand out of twenty. That's not helpful. Moreover, because Japanese relies almost completely on context, your translation will be wrong if you do that.
- Don't translate things if you can't quite grasp the last panel and/or the punchline. If you can't, it's a good indication you probably didn't grasp the earlier parts either. Again, context is the king.
- Don't translate things with multiple possible meanings if you're not sure you have the correct context to choose the proper one. Japanese can seriously flip the meanings completely depending on the context. Mistakes are unavoidable, but don't touch anything unless you're really confident you understand it.
- Stick to the meaning of the words. Keep interpretation of your own out of the translation--Japanese is often ambiguous, so your translation can and should be too. If you want you can leave a translation note saying what you think they're referring to.
- In particular, if you can, don't make your translation any more specific than the original. If the original doesn't mention a specific person, try to leave it out of your translation too. If the gender is ambiguous, do your best not to specify it. If the action is uncertain, try to structure your sentences so that it remains unspecified. Yes, it's sometimes nigh impossible due to the differences in grammar and word order, but you should try.
- But within the above, make sure your English is idiomatic and well-written. To translate you have to be good in English as well as Japanese. Wooden translations mimicking the Japanese word-for-word can hardly count as translations, and usually help no-one. Try to select idioms with the same meanings as Japanese counterparts. It's usually okay to adjust metaphors slightly to make them sound better, but try not to be excessive in your adjustments.
- In particular, do not leave notes saying "literally blah blah". If your translation needs annotating with the literal meaning, and is not a joke/pun/something exceedingly specific and intractable, you're doing it wrong. If it doesn't, then why add it?
- Puns and jokes are a special category on their own. Here it's allowable to be much more flexible, as long as the general meaning remains. It's heaps better to make a joke that clicks in English and then explain nuances in a translation note, than to make something completely unfunny and then explain in a note why it was a joke.
- Use the names romanized in the same way as our tags have them. Generally this means Surname Forename, and make sure you stick to our romanization rules too.
- And finally, make sure you understand the Japanese text. It can't be overstressed. We all make blunders, and it's okay to improve as you work, but if you post too many I like your thing, there's tar and feathers waiting for you.
- If you don't understand, ask! In the comments, or in the forum, or even by sending a message to a well-established translator. When in doubt, ask, don't push ahead blindly. Similarly, if you hit particularly hard cases, ask! Sometimes it takes a council to find a good translation, and many things can be tricky indeed, especially if they're in-jokes relying on context.
One final note: if you're confident you know what you're doing, your own good judgement trumps these "rules". Translating is an art and as such there are really no hard and fast rules that always apply. Think of these as good advice or as style guidelines.
Step by step breakdown of how to translate
- Go to an image in need of translation (look at translation_requests). You can also try searching the comments for people who bumped images for translation.
- Click on Add Translation in the sidebar to the left or press 'n' on the keyboard. Click and drag on the image around where the text is. One note will be created. (Use multiple notes for multiple parts!)
- To change the size of a note after creating it, move (by dragging) and resize (by dragging the bottom right corner) the note. It should take up as little space as possible, covering the text you're translating. Remember to save afterwards. Your changes won't do anything until you save, so it's better to move, then add text than the other way around.
- Make sure to make the notes as small as possible. They should obscure the minimal area of the picture. If there are natural borders (such as a rectangular speech box) you can use to hide the note, do it. Make the note match the box pixel-for-pixel, so that it disappears. Alternatively, stick it as close to the text as possible. (The first frame of post #4487 is a good example of fitting a translation box to text, and post #577456 of fitting it to a box in the image.)
- Hover the mouse cursor inside the note to make an empty square appear below it. Click it to edit.
- Write your translation in the box. Limited HTML markup is allowed; a list of useful tags is available at about:note_formatting. Use <tn>translation note here</tn> to add a translation note. Don't add a linebreak before a translation note, that's done automatically.
- Repeat until all the text has been translated.
- Make sure you change the translation_request tag to translated!
Tags relating to translation
- translation_request - images with significant Japanese (or other language, combine with for example chinese for Chinese text) text to translate, that's left completely or partially untranslated.
- partially_translated - images that have been partially translated. As mentioned above, this isn't generally encouraged, but in some cases it can be fine, such as when the image is very long, or when the text is not strongly related (for example post #570410).
- check_translation - used for images that have been translated but that either the translator or other people are unsure about whether it's right. Or, perhaps the English is so confusing that the translation needs double-checking to convert it to something that makes sense.
- translated - images that have been completely translated. Nothing less than completely (and properly) translated, please. When placing this tag, Remove the translation_request tag and the partially_translated if it's there. An image should never be tagged with translated and translation_request.
Translation aids for Danbooru
- Note assist is a userscript that adds new features to the note system. They include automatically resizing your notes to fit the text as well as buttons for quick access to more advanced note formatting such as text size and color. It is still a work-in-progress and aimed at advanced users.
Read the full article.
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