Why VA is hard? By Anonx( Former Meraki Staff Editor for VA)
Volcanic Age is a Korean webtoon with Wulin/Murim setting in China.
First of all, what makes it complicated is that one thing can have multiple meanings. For example, when a modern-day Korean in a normal day life uses “사형” it means execution. However, when you apply that same word in Wulin setting, it means “Senior Brother” (Martial Brother in Seniority, either by strength, or somebody who joined the sect before you or went under a certain master before you.)
To explain further, Koreans use Hangul, but other than that, there is Hanja. That’s what Koreans call Chinese characters, and it refers more specifically to those Chinese characters borrowed from Chinese and incorporated into the Korean language.
Problem is that, nowadays, not many Korean translators in scanlation know Hanja, because, they really don’t need it that much. They can live a life without needing it in normal daily life. But this webtoon, in particular, uses Hanja so damn often, so much so, that I’ve had Korean translators that had a hard time just reading this let alone understanding it.
So, when you encounter Korean word, that’s from Chinese culture, the author offers Hanja to make it more clear and set the understanding. However, even with the knowledge of Hanja unless the reader (Somebody who knows Korean, or in this case translator) is experienced and knowledgeable of Wulin setting that word will STILL mean nothing to him.
So this webtoon, if we want it done right, requires a translator, or a proofreader with knowledge of the language willing to research each of these terms, to understand the meaning of them and only then to translate them to English. A lot of translators dealt with this previously, so there is at least a bit of help to be found in the English language. However, that’s still not much. Even in Korean, there is lack of information.
Wuxiaworld, and Immortal Mountain Glossary can be of some help, they’ve compiled AWESOME translations for terms commonly used in wuxia, xianxia and xuanhuan novels. The only problem is that those are in simplified Chinese, and Hanja is more traditional. But it can be managed.
In Meraki, I was personally proofreading this for 6 hours a day (mainly making sure of the terms), I more often than not involved Celes to help me. And even then we had to run to Ruggia and Basse (Our Veteran Korean translators) for help.
Even if we avoid, all of this, it’s not exactly easiest projects on editors either, as every bubble is seethrough. But that’s nothing in comparison to translation and proofreading of this incredibly difficult project.
Now, Volcanic Age was definitely NOT the reason we disbanded (at best it’s just one part of the reason). We disbanded because we wanted to focus on real life, and stress of scanlation was getting to us. Volcanic Age was just one of many projects we released at relatively quick pace. Right now we moved to casual pace with few projects with patient fans that are not pushing or stressing us.
Dru has already asked our Veteran Translators if they are willing to help, to put it plainly they are not. It’s time-consuming it’s stressful and it’s really not a real job, so you guys are expecting way too much out of us scanlators. What I meant by taxing is that this is really heavy on mental health, sadly I’ve tried to solve this problem with money, it didn’t do much good. There is really nothing like forcing yourself to finish a chapter and 6 hours into it, some asshole comes and complains that daily releases are not fast enough (Which was the case with us in Meraki). I understand that there is passion involved there, but it really doesn’t help to know that.
Finding somebody experienced, somebody who cares to research those terms in detail and has time to do it for 5 euros (which is average pay per chapter for a translator in scanlation and keep in mind that most scanlations don’t even pay their staff) is borderline impossible. I’m talking as a co-leader of the group, that had over 30 translators on disposal on one time or another. A good, fast and experienced translator is insanely rare. Meraki had only 2 Korean translators that were up to the task of handling Volcanic Age in particular. And this project is easily hardest one I have encountered. I don’t expect the average reader to understand this, nor am I asking you to, just believe me when I say it.
So, other than that, I advised Dru (Leader of Trash Scans) to plainly drop this project. Problem with this is, that I personally don’t believe that somebody will jump in after them. Take Wowe Scans (Filipes group) they were interested in taking it initially, after Rager’s Replacement (Their translator) saw the work involved, he did the reasonable thing and decided against it. My previous translator, that did the “rough” translation, didn’t want to continue working on it with Trash Scans as he also didn’t want to deal with the amount of work that “rough” translation took. He instead went to work on Scholars Reincarnation.
This is already turning into a huge wall of text. I’m available on discord or [email protected] if somebody wants further explanation. But I would really cut Trash scans a slack, they could lower the quality, romanize things they don’t understand and release rate would be faster. But that would literally do no good for anyone involved.