Lost in Translation
They say there’s a first time for everything. Over the past five years, I’ve checked quite a few ‘firsts’ off my bucket list. These include living in Asia for a year and a half, seeing my first Halifax Wanderers match, and most, recently, jumping off a 20-foot waterfall in the jungles of the Dominican Republic. Well, here’s another to add to that list of accomplishments. Over the past year, I had my first ever experience translating a book.
Okay, just to make this abundantly clear before I go on any further, I did live in China for a long time and I do speak (and understand) basic Mandarin. That being said, I am not fluent in the language and don’t know any of the traditional characters. So, how did I accomplish this feat? All I can say is thank God for Google Translate.
Keep in mind that this is merely a rough draft of the Mandarin version of the book, Clash of Dragons
(龙的冲突 Lóng de chōngtú), which was my best-selling book of 2020. Anyway, while I was in the process of getting the English version ready for publication, I was simultaneously working with a Chinese translator (actually, she lives in Taipei, Taiwan) to go over the Mandarin version of the translation of Clash of Dragons which most likely will see the light of day sometime this year.
In case you’re curious, I’ll give you the Reader’s Digest version of the plot: World War III erupts in the Middle East when the United States and NATO forces attack Iran in retaliation for attacks against coalition forces in the Middle East. Seizing the opportunity (meaning considerably fewer US and NATO troops in the East China Sea area) Beijing launches an invasion of Taiwan, which the Chinese Communist Party views as a rebellious province and not a sovereign nation. Luckily, the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit is in nearby Okinawa and can work alongside Taiwanese army troops before the Allies swoop in to do battle against seemingly unstoppable People’s Liberation Army forces.
To be honest with you, up until this time, I never really considered using Google Translate. But, once I figured just how easy it is, well, let’s just say I got the project done throughout a weekend. It is interesting to note that while the English version of Clash of Dragons is roughly 60k words while it’s just over 100k in Mandarin letters. Strange, but each language has its own unique characteristics.