Confound Your Lousy Toll, Troll!

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Zeng Rui carefully watched every move of An Xin’s Nami and Tang Bingyao’s Vayne. He spotted it right away when Tang Bingyao went a little more aggressive on a caster minion than normal. Preparing for an engage or just trying to level up? Doesn’t matter which. He said over Shanghai High School’s voice chat, “Kill that minion!” Then he had his Leona auto attack the one he’d pinged, bringing its health down low enough so that Shanghai High School’s Kalista could kill it. “Too late now,” he mumbled to himself as he watched Tang Bingyao’s Vayne and An Xin’s Nami reach Level 3. They were already running at him. He moved his mouse over the Vayne and activated Zenith Blade. His Leona aimed a solar image of her sword at the Vayne. It pierced its target and the Leona dashed towards the Vayne.

An Xin had been waiting for the Leona to activate Zenith Blade. It was a brief moment in time where she knew exactly where the Leona was going to be; in mid-dash flying towards Vayne. The exact moment that the Leona’s animation of Zenith Blade started, An Xin’s Nami tossed a bubble of water right in front of the Vayne. It landed on top of the Leona, breaking her dash and suspending her in midair.

Zeng Rui’s Leona couldn’t move nor cast a skill. She was helpless as Tang Bingyao moved past her, ignoring her. She was powerless as the Vayne fired a silver bolt at Kalista. Zeng Rui frantically pushed down on his mouse. Come on! Come on! Break! Shit! He didn’t understand how the Nami had immobilized him mid-dash, but he didn’t have time to think about that. I need to save my ad-carry!

Tang Bingyao waited for a brief moment after shooting the first silver bolt. Where is the Pierce? Show me your move. She’d played Kalista a lot and knew how Shanghai High School’s ad-carry was going to respond. Hmm! The Kalista formed a large spear in her hand and leaned back, drawing extra power before hurling a fast moving spear–Pierce! Tang Bingyao was ready for it. She Tumbled to the side before the spear could hit her and then fired off an empowered silver bolt. I’ll win this! BunBun took care of the Leona, I’m going to take care of Kalista! She’s mine!

Along the bottom side of the bot lane were three brushes. An Xin had placed a ward in the one closest to Red team’s outer tower a minute before. Right now, a blue pillar of light descended on it, signaling a champion teleporting in. Lin Feng announced his arrival over High School 13’s voice chat, “Guuuys! I’m teleporting in for the gank!”

The fight had broken out in the middle of the bot lane near the river entrance. Shanghai High School and High School 13’s Botlaners had run at each other and away from the safety that their outer towers presented. They were now so far away from those outer towers that it became incredibly difficult to get back to them if something went wrong. An Xin knew all of this. It was partly why she’d chosen to engage. Lin Feng will come bot. This is gonna be a 3vs2 where Shanghai High School can’t get away. We got them.

Shanghai High School’s Kalista realized the fight was turning against them. She turned around and started running away. This inadvertently had her walking past the wall of stone and trees that separated the river, jungle, and lane.

Tang Bingyao’s Vayne Flashed forward with a mottled flash of light and then took the large crossbow from her back. She aimed it at the Kalista and pulled the trigger–Condemn! A large bolt flew out and pierced the Kalista, lifting her off the ground and pinning her to the wall. It was also the third bolt laced in silver. The three silver rings below the Kalista exploded and dealt true damage!

“WHAT A CONDEMN!” Westwind shouted, his voice booming through the speakers in the venue. “The Vayne stunned Kalista to the wall! The Vayne is good! Give it up for her! Wooooooooo!”

“That was awesome!” Silent Reed agreed, smiling. “The timing was so good! She waited for Lin Feng to teleport and only then flashed for the angle! She’s going to get the double! She’s getting the double! Come on, girl! You can do it!”

Lin Feng’s Lulu teleported into the brush closest to the Red team’s outer tower. Tang Bingyao was right in front of him. He had his Lulu cast Help, Pix! on her. The purple butterfly called Pix flew over to Vayne’s side, giving her a shield and aiding her attacks. Lulu followed up with Glitterglance, a bolt of magical energy that heavily slowed the still stunned Kalista.

Tang Bingyao smiled. Lin Feng’s Lulu and An Xin’s Nami were Supporting her. Now she had to do her part. This is my kill! She had her Vayne auto attack the Kalista two more times before the stun broke. Then she Tumbled forward and shot the third silver bolt. The three silver rings below the Kalista exploded, dealing true damage, and depleted what little remained of her health.

《First blood!》

Tang Bingyao, An Xin, and Lin Feng wanted to chase after Zeng Rui’s Leona next. But Zeng Rui was already too far away. He’d given up on Kalista the moment that she got stunned. He’d Flashed towards his outer tower and ran until he was under it. Then he had his Leona keep on running until she reached their inner tower. “Shit!” he cursed, grinding his teeth. How did that happen? I knew the ward was there. I saw her place it! But she hit me with her Aqua Prison. That’s where it went wrong. I should’ve been more careful. I knew she was good. I should’ve seen this coming! Ok, reset. Breathe. Calm down. Focus on the game and stick to the plan. “Stick to the plan, guys,” Zeng Rui said over the team’s voice chat. He nodded at his screen and forced himself to take long, deep breaths until he was calm again.

The High School 13 students in the audience shot up to their feet and threw their arms high in the air! Their team was winning the game, so they expressed their joy and bliss in the loudest roars they could muster.


Back on stage, Lin Feng was patting himself on the shoulder and said over the team’s voice chat, “That was a great teleport gank by me! I timed that perfectly!”

An Xin rolled her eyes and replied, “Right. Because this was all you, and not at all Tang Tang who made the engage and got the angle for the Condemn. Also, don’t think I didn’t see you trying to steal Tang Tang’s kill!”

“Oh, uh…” Lin Feng scratched the back of his head and grinned foolishly. Then he said, “Right! Shall we take the tower as well?”

An Xin shook her head and said, “Let’s not. No need to rush this. Tang Tang and I are going to farm Shanghai High School’s bot lane for a couple more kills. Isn’t that right, Tang Tang?”

I got the kill! I got the kill! Tang Bingyao was still cheering herself on when An Xin called out to her. She almost didn’t hear it. But then she looked away from her screen and noticed the audience standing up on their feet and cheering for her. Her heart started racing, her chest was heaving up and down. I did it! I really did it! A wave of euphoria washed over her. I am good! This is how I’m supposed to play! She heard An Xin calling out her name again and looked over at her friend. “Uhh, right,” she said. “The tower, right? Mhm. Let’s leave it up.” Just one kill isn’t enough. I need to carry this game! I want to carry this game! I’ll show them how good I am!

At 6 minutes, three different things happened in the fourth game of the Shanghai 16 School Tournament Finals. Shanghai High School’s Lee Sin was ganking the top lane, Liu Yue’s Jarvan IV was ganking the mid lane, and Tang Bingyao was finally getting into the series in the bot lane. She stopped tilting and started showing just how good of a player she really was.

In the top lane, Chen Ze’s Irelia was pushing the minion wave towards Shanghai High School’s tower. He was trying very hard to make the Gragas miss out on minions and fall behind in terms of creep score. But this also left him vulnerable to ganks, and more importantly, to the Gragas’ ultimate skill. Right as Chen Ze’s Irelia pushed the minions into Shanghai High School’s tower range, Gragas hurled his cask at her. The Explosive Cask exploded behind her, the resulting force knocking her underneath the Red team’s outer tower while also dealing a lot of magic damage.

Shanghai High School’s Lee Sin ran out of the Jungle and into the top lane. He placed a ward next to the Irelia and hopped towards it–Safeguard! Then he combined his skills to deal as much damage to the Irelia. He first used Tempest, slamming his fists down on the ground and slowing the Irelia with Cripple. He followed up with Sonic Wave, locating the Irelia so that he could dash after her if she chose to Flash away. But it never got that far. The Gragas Body Slammed into the Irelia and the outer tower fired an energy shot which killed the Irelia.

《You have been slain!》

In the mid lane, Lin Feng was having a great time on his Lulu. Shanghai High School’s Yasuo was finding it increasingly difficult to even get out into the lane. He only got to farm minions when Lin Feng was somewhere else entirely. So Lin Feng walked towards the river, pretending to go and help Chen Ze’s Irelia in the top lane. But when he was sure that the Yasuo didn’t have vision on him anymore, he turned back around and hid in the brush next to the lane, waiting for the Yasuo to push forward. Oh! This Yasuo is so greedy.

Lin Feng waited a little longer until the Yasuo walked out into the middle of the lane. Then Lin Feng’s Lulu ran back into lane. She flashed towards the Yasuo, arriving next to him, and used her ultimate skill on herself. She rapidly grew several times in size, knocking the Yasuo Airborne–Wild Growth!

Liu Yue’s Jarvan IV came running out of the brush below the mid lane. He flag-tossed onto the Yasuo, effectively extending the knock up. Then he auto-attacked the Yasuo with Lulu’s Pixie hovering over his shoulder, aiding his attacks. The Yasuo landed back on the ground and tried to get away. But Lin Feng’s Lulu and Liu Yue’s Jarvan IV dealt too much damage. Lulu finished the Yasuo off with her magical Glitterlance.

《You have slain an enemy!》

In the bot lane, after picking up first blood, Tang Bingyao was finding her old, aggressive self again. She saw an opening and exploited it, landing an auto attack on Zeng Rui’s Leona. She followed up with another auto attack, two silver rings appearing underneath the Leona. Then she Tumbled to the side, dodging Leona’s Zenith Blade, and fired a third auto attack. The three rings around the Leona exploded and dealt true damage.

In this entire exchange, Shanghai High School’s Kalista didn’t do anything. She’d been too far away, which was the opening that Tang Bingyao had spotted. But the Kalista had arrived and threw a fast moving spear at the Vayne–Pierce! Tang Bingyao, however, had seen this attack coming from a mile away. She evaded it with great ease. All the while, never missing a single last hit on the minions.

Zeng Rui gritted his teeth, seething. What the fuck is going on? Were they just toying with us? Why is she playing so much better than before? This isn’t just a difference of Support! What’s going on? He looked across the stage at Tang Bingyao, who was completely focused on the screen in front of her. She isn’t laughing like the thundering dumbass and that coach-Jungler-Support-whatever… Could this really be how good she was the whole time? Was she just really tilted? “Shit,” he mumbled under his breath. It can’t go on like this. We’re losing the mid lane again. If we also lose bot, then that’s game. We’ll lose the finals…

At 7:30 minutes, Tang Bingyao’s Vayne was the first Champion in the bot lane to reach Level 6. Zeng Rui knew they had to do something to keep her down, like they’d done last game. “We’re going in!” he said over his team’s voice chat while pressing the E key–Zenith Blade! His Leona projected a solar image of her sword towards the Nami. When the image faded, the Nami was briefly immobilized and the Leona dashed towards her.

Shanghai High School’s Lee Sin ran into the bot lane from High School 13’s side of the Jungle. He threw out a Sonic Wave that connected with the Vayne. Then he used the second half of this skill, called Resonating Strike, to dash towards her. But right as he hit her, she disappeared.

A dark aura wrapped around the Vayne as she activated her ultimate. Then she Tumbled and disappeared! The Lee Sin slammed his fists on the ground, revealing all that couldn’t be seen by the eye–Tempest! The Vayne reappeared right in front of him, with her large crossbow aimed squarely at his face. Behind him was a large boulder. Before Lee Sin could even start contemplating his next move, a large bolt pierced him and pinned him to said boulder. Another auto attack hit him, a second silver ring appearing around him.

An Xin’s Nami broke free from Zeng Rui’s Leona. She rushed over towards the Vayne and threw an Aqua Prison at the Lee Sin. The bubble arced through the air and landed right on top of the Lee Sin at the exact moment that the stun from Condemn wore off. He was lifted off the ground again, this time suspended within a bubble! Another silver bolt hit him. A third silver ring appeared around him and set off an explosion of true damage!

Investigative Journalism - Racism in Translation?

Dev Thought: Alright. So you guys know how we’re on Twitter right? So at various times throughout the day, the three of us get random recommended tweets from random people talking about translation on Twitter. I normally ignore them because most of it is asinine. But I saw something interesting this morning about how “translators of color don’t get taken as seriously as white translators.” I’m paraphrasing here, but that was the basic idea. 

Now that’s an issue, right? That’s what I thought. Why is there this strange racism in translation? Why is it only spoken about in one small corner of Twitter? That’s absolute bullshit that we should all be talking about. And I figured that we could use this platform here to talk about it and raise awareness. So I started digging into this “racism in translation” issue on Twitter. Found out that it had its origins in Colonialism. Some bullshit about how only European colonizers translated things from the regions they colonized into English/Portugese/Spanish/Dutch. I was shocked. Absolutely shocked that this bullshit continued forward into 2021.

So I did a little bit more digging into the people on Twitter complaining about how they don’t get as many opportunities as white translators just because they’re “people of color”. I’m pretty sure they’re referring to POC as a stand-in to state that they are native speakers of the source language that the original work is written in. Something along those lines. But all in all, this whole thing seems really fucking shady, right? 

So I looked more into these translators who talked about how they were discriminated against because they happened to be… —I truly hate using this word— “indigenous peoples who are native speakers of the language.” Genuinely didn’t make any sense to me why a publisher would pick a random white person that studied a language in University over someone who used the language all their lives to be a translator. The only possible explanation here is that there was some racial discrimination at play. 

And then I looked at the translations from the translators who claimed to have been discriminated against on the basis of race. In a shocking twist, there was no racism at all. Turns out that all the translators bugging out about how publishers prefer white translators over them are just terrible at writing in English. They are bad translators because they make the original work inaccessible to people who want to read it in English through poor comprehension of the English language and god awful writing skills. 

There is an actual art to translation, one that was established over a thousand years ago. Before we even had written languages and most people could read. The wandering bards and troupes would hear stories/songs/poems told in various languages from other bards and troupes, and then they would retell that in whatever language the town or village they stopped in spoke. The entire artform is based on distilling a story down to its essence and conveying that story to a completely different audience in a way that they understand it. 

But that’s another lecture for another day. We’re talking about racism here now. Or the lack of racism. Sometimes, it’s very easy to brush something that happens to you off as racism. Because that’s the simple answer. Can a white person speak Chinese better than a Chinese person? Obviously not. Nor does a white person know the history and culture of China better than a Chinese person. But that’s not actually the question we’re asking. The real question is “Can the Chinese person convey the story/poem/song to an English speaking audience using written English in a way that they can easily get into it and understand it?” 

When the answer to that question is “No”, that’s when the white person becomes the better option. There really is no racism here. There’s just shit translators looking for a way to blame someone else for their own lack of skill, rather than working harder to improve to the point where they are the first option. A reader shouldn’t have to be informed that a translation is a translation and that it was done by a person of color, which is why they should lower their standards or work harder to get into a translated work. That’s not actually a thing. Nor should we allow for lower standards based on the color of someone’s skin. That’s actual racism, folks. And the most insidious kind. 

As horrible as it is to hear about how someone got called a hurtful word or assaulted because of their ethnicity or the color of their skin (and it is horrible), there’s something so much worse about nicely telling an entire group of people that the standards are lower for them because of the color of their skin. That’s not beneficial. That is the most demeaning thing you can do to another person or group of people. Because a punch or a kick hurts for five minutes. But being told your entire life that you’re never going to be as good as everyone else because of your heritage? By people who are doing it out of good intentions? That sort of thing will fuck you up forever.

In conclusion, I think we all need to take advice from the old Daoist and Buddist Masters. “Look within before you look without.” Let’s all take a minute to ask ourselves if the fault lies with our own individual abilities and how we can improve before pulling out the race card. And take a minute to see if someone claiming to be a victim of a systemic racial discrimination practice is actually suffering from a systemic discriminatory process. Or if they just simply suck and no one’s bothered to tell them that they suck. 

TL;DR – If you don’t get hired as a translator by publishers or academic institutions despite being Chinese/Indonesian/A Person of Color who natively speaks the language, it is not an issue of racism. You did not get hired because you are a shitty translator. If you are in doubt about being a shitty translator, the test is simple. If Google Translate puts together a more readable version of the text in English than you did, you are a shitty translator. No racism here. Just mediocrity looking for some excuse to blame other people for why they suck. 

Shanks Thought: I’ve been translating webnovels for almost five years now. I went through that phase of maintaining “authenticity” and wanting to stay “true” to the original author’s words. Then, I quickly grew out of it the more I translated. It wasn’t hard with a flawed author like Mad Snail. I was even famous for my rants on Rebirth Thief for how much I had to rewrite in a chapter to keep the story consistent. But that’s beside the point.

I agree with Devshard. A good translation shouldn’t be difficult for the reader to understand. The whole notion of “When a poem/story is easier to read in translation, when the translation reads better than the original, that’s a bad translation. The translation has to be more difficult to read” is offensive. You shouldn’t have to look at a translation and know that it is a translation because the syntax is odd or the grammar is messed up or because it is difficult to parse when reading. Making it purposefully difficult to understand doesn’t make the translation “authentic” or special. It doesn’t force readers to go, “This is so nice even though the translation is hard! I need to go learn the language to read the original!” It’s lazy. And an excuse for not bothering to develop your skills in transferring information across languages and cultures.  

I can easily translate like that as well. Hell, I have in the past when I got lazy. Then Devshard yelled at me for it. “Well, that’s what it said in the raws!” isn’t a good excuse for a bad translation. It makes the reading experience so much worse for you guys. It takes way more effort to read a story in the source language and convey it into the target language in a way that you guys can understand all the nuance of the storytelling. If I did that for Rise, there’s so much about the story that you guys would have missed. You wouldn’t be in the comments arguing about how Tang Tang is feeling or getting mad at Lin Feng for being clueless. You wouldn’t know anything about An Xin’s personality. And remember the chapter where TianTian was introduced? God Roundy? You know how the feels hit all of you super hard at the end of that chapter? That wouldn’t be there either.  

Also, just to correct a misconception. What’s more important in a translation is your grasp of the target language. There’s a huge difference between being able to understand the story as you’re reading it, and telling that story to a group of people you’ve never met or spoken to around the world in a way that they experience the story the same way you did while reading it. I’m confident in my ability to translate from Chinese to English. I’m not confident in translating from English to Chinese. 

Finally, this isn’t just a Twitter thing. I’ve seen this kind of dumb mindset throughout the whole community, from NovelUpdate forums to translator exclusive Discord servers. I’m numb to it by now, but that Twitter thread was too dumb not to call out. Like what?

Dev Addendum: Real talk, we get called out for this stupid shit all the time. People have gotten into fights with us about how we’re “too liberal” with our translations over DMs, on the noveltranslations subreddit. Hell, some jackass showed up in the Rise Channel on the WW Discord server the other day talking about how Rise had “jelly donuts localization”. The moron thought that we localized things because the English was too clean and it didn’t look like a translation to him. 

Sietse Thought: We’re always looking for the next quick fix to our problems. We search for, in this case, a reason why our translation sucks. There are many options, but racism is an easy term to fling around these days to get a lot of attention. Then you find yourself Twitter famous for a couple of days, only to be met with another obstacle. Another quick fix is needed. Something low effort that can’t require more than a few minutes of your time, because you got more fun stuff to do.

I’m sure you catch the drift. It’s a terrible mindset and these people genuinely don’t realize that the only thing holding them back in their lives is themselves. To produce quality work, you need to put in the time and effort. Real effort, day after day after week after year. And if you aren’t willing to do that, at least have the common decency to keep your mouth shut. Racism is a real issue, but it’s hard to tackle when idiots abuse it for their own petty needs.

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