Translation Telephone

Jin received her copies of the John Shirley book Rapture that she translated. She wrote a blog post about it. It’s in Korean, but there are pictures.

The reaction from the Korean BioShock community has been interesting. Some people are annoyed that the book doesn’t match the fan-made patch (where one thing named INCINERATE got translated as FIREBALL ATTACK!) Other people are a bit confused as to who this John Shirley guy is anyways. Some folks thought Ayn Rand was made up by the creators of BioShock. And other folks are reading the book saying, “Oh. This is actually a fun book. The game has more of a sense of humor than we realized.”

It’s been interesting. Part of it makes me think how translation can be like one massive game of telephone. Another thing it makes me realize how making guesses based on limited information may not be a problem now. But later down the line when your guesses have been codified into being considered “the truth” problems will arise.

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4 responses to “Translation Telephone”

  1. Rick Bowes says :

    Sometimes the translation takes on a life of its own quite distinct from the original and sometimes owing not a lot to it – Fitzgerald’s “The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam” comes to mind,

  2. gordsellar says :

    Or pretty much everything Ezra Pound ever translated… because he saw it as springboards for his own theories and so on…

    Glad Jin’s version won out against the English-in-Hangeul patch version. 🙂

    • Justin says :

      I kind of like when people do that. Graves did it with the Greek Myths, and while I recognize the value of scholarship, I also recognize the value of inspiration — though it’s a fine line and I’d hate to be pressed to come up with a cut and dry theory on the matter.

      I think it was more a draw with no winner between her version and the patch version. The proofreader has been going on about how John Shirley doesn’t “know anything” about BioShock and if he’d played the game he would have seen the building he describes as having three stories only HAS TWO IN THE GAME!!!

      The proofreader has also written a lot of BioShock fanfiction apparently… but the book is selling well and about to go into a second printing, and Jin hopes to be able to leverage another John Shirley translation, since she really likes his stuff.

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