LFR in other languages

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I was reading the forum and I read that all campaign documentation and the adventures themselves will be only available in English. That will be a huge problem in a lot of regions where most players doesn’t speak English. Why don’t do something about that? Here’s an idea that could work:

- Each region will choose a Translation Coordinator.
- Each region will define in what languages they will publish their adventures. English will be always the default language and all material has to be in English, buy they can opt to create alternative versions of the adventures in any language they want.
- When someone creates an adventure for a particular region the Translation Coordinator of that region will be in charge to setup a translation team to create the alternative versions of that adventure.
- Each region can also have the campaign’s documentation in multiple languages too.

Let me show you an example:

Here in Latin America we choose Pedro as our Translation Coordination. Our region chooses to publish all the material in English (obligatory), Spanish and Portuguese, so Pedro will setup a Translation Team in order to translate all the campaign documentation.
Later Richard wants to make a Baldur’s Gate adventure to be played in the LFR campaign. He will create the adventure in any language he wants, if he chooses to write the adventure in English then Pedro’s team will translate it. If not then Pedro or his team will be in charge to create the English version too.
All the documents will be send to Wizards for final approval. Then the RPGA team will have an English version to review and the players will have the adventure in their own language. Everyone is happy :D
That's a great idea, and one of the ideas barely thrown around much earlier in the process. It's a simple matter of getting it done. I'm sure if you talked to your regional administration about helping to get it set up, they would be more than happy to enlist your help. Good luck!
Here’s an idea that could work:

- Each region will choose a Translation Coordinator.
- Each region will define in what languages they will publish their adventures. English will be always the default language and all material has to be in English, buy they can opt to create alternative versions of the adventures in any language they want.
- When someone creates an adventure for a particular region the Translation Coordinator of that region will be in charge to setup a translation team to create the alternative versions of that adventure.
- Each region can also have the campaign’s documentation in multiple languages too.



All the documents will be send to Wizards for final approval. Then the RPGA team will have an English version to review and the players will have the adventure in their own language. Everyone is happy :D

This is one of those ideas which sound great until you scratch the surface a little. Allow me to play Devil's Advocate for a moment and present a counter argument. :P

When a company such as WotC put their name to a product, they must ensure that it represents the brand in the way they intend it to. So in this example, that requires outsourcing the translation to any number of linguists (few of which are likely to be gamers and 'get' the lingo) or they are obliged to have staff fluent in the languages in which campaign documents are written.

Otherwise, standard corporate risk analysis for a company this size would flag any number of potential hazards - things like meanings getting misconstrued in translation (anyone else remember the devil-worshipping hysteria surrounding D&D in the 80s & 90s?) or the risk of any disgruntled translator slipping in rude words that will have mothers screaming that the game is bad for children.

Off the top of my head, here's a quick sample of the languages from just three multilingual regions that could reasonably be considered under your suggestion.

Asia-Pacific - English. Japanese, Cantonese, Korean, Thai, Malay, Vietnamese.
Southern Europe - Portugese, Spanish, French, Italian, Greek, Croatian, Turkish, Serbian, Romanian, Hungarian,
Northern Europe - Spans 10 timezones and fully half the globe. I won't even start to try and add up all the languages spoken there, but German, Danish, Swedish, Dutch, Finnish, Norweigan, Polish, Czech and Russian come to mind.

Now, maybe a suggestion is to only adapt a couple of the major languages on that list for each region. Now you open the can of worms that WotC is paying for adventures to be translated into Spanish and French, but the players from Italy and Greece want to know why WotC doesn't care about them - there's plenty of D&D players in those two countries after all. Where do you draw the line and at what point does the money to fund this run out?

I absolutely agree with you that a global campaign that is English-only is far from ideal, but there just aren't enough resources to for any alternative.

I mean this all in the nicest possible way of course.


Joe

P.S. WotC want to own the LFR adventures, meaning they must buy them off authors at something approaching market value. Just in case people think offering to do the work for free is a solution.
Joe Fitzgerald | joerpga[at]yahoo[dot]com[dot]au LFR Global Administrator
The adventures when written (in english) need to be bought, but I don't know how that works for translation. It may not be needed as you are translating something that WotC already paid for (which means that you need their permission, not vice versa).
I think that if people wish to translate, and have the skills, they should contact their regional POC. He can then check what possibilities there are. You need a case first.
As to Northern Europe: I expect that the Scandinavian and the Dutch do not necessarily need translations as they generally get about fine with English. It likely will be an asset for German though. No idea on a need for other NE languages - I don't know the player spread there, or their (dis)comfort with english adventures.
The part which seemingly fires the killing bullet is, "WotC has to approve of everything."

The 3.x core books (at leats, the 3.0 ones) were translated to Turkish, with ... hilarious... results. This is not to say it can't be done. There are a few Turkish groups and forums who try to publish their own d20 material in Turkish (for free), and they do a good job of nativization. The folks at rpcraft.com is one of the better examples of this that I'm aware of.

Ultimately, though, WotC will at some point have to take the translators at their face value when they say 'I'm doing a great job!'.

Baris
OTOH, I've met a few volunteers who actually want to sit down and translate whole adventures. So in here, we can get the translation thing going, with some good organization, but it won't be a sanctioned process as it stands.

Baris
It appears WotC licenses translation rights out to companies, which means that it may not actually be that easy to get volunteers to translate, for free or otherwise...
The problem likely is not getting the vollunteers. The problem might be that making them in name of the RPGA, which is a branche of WotC, and spreading them through the RPGA can be illegal. It all depends on the contracts WotC/Hasbro has with the local translators, but for example, there are/were some pretty severe constraints on translating D&D stuff in German. Now I am not a lawyer, so I don't know how this relates to translating freely available RPGA adventures, just noting that there is much more to it than their appears to be on the surface.

Pieter Sleijpen
RPGA LFR Global Administrator
(and RPGA LG Circle Member in Europe)
I keep thinking about a response on a range of lines, but I think it boils down to this:

Having LFR modules available in local languages strikes me as an essential aspect of a global campaign. LFR is billed as 'more' global than LG, and LG had local-language modules, so LFR needs to have them. Prior to the start of the campaign, the administrators, Chris and Ian at HQ, and WotC legal need to make sure that this is possible. If it means renegotiating with Devir, Asmodee, etc then that needs to happen. If it means changing the way that rights are assigned by authors to the RPGA so that authors can also assign rights to local translators, then that needs to be explored.

What's worrying is that is seems that, ten weeks before the launch of the campaign, a regional and a global administrator do not appear to be able to reassure people that this is sorted and that we shouldn't worry. We don't need the detail, of course, but I am one to believe that (nearly) everything is legally possible if it is considered important enough, and unless WotC wants LFR to be entirely anglophone, this ought to be considered important enough to mobilise the will of the entire organisation to sort out.

Running D&D Adventurers League events in Sheffield, UK from August. Contact me for more details.

Thank you Pedr, this is what I want to hear. And thank you everyone else for your input.

This could bring a huge amount of players to the campaign, and more players are always more customers for Wizards.
LFR is billed as 'more' global than LG, and LG had local-language modules, so LFR needs to have them.

I don't disagree with you, pedr (and, as a native English speaker, it's probably way too easy for me to dismiss this issue). However, there's one important difference between LG and LFR.

In LG, there are / were some regions which were clearly not Anglophone (e.g., Ekbir and Tusmit are French-speaking, Adri/Innspa are German-speaking, etc.). Since you could only play those region's adventures in those countries, the regional modules, at least, could be "natively" written in their home languages (though, I confess, I don't know if this is how it was actually done), rather than having them start out in English, then get translated into the region's native language.

In LFR, with no restrictions on where you can play regional adventures, every LFR module is, fundamentally, a "Core" -- and thus, RPGA is requiring that all modules be available in English. This might give RPGA less initial incentive to get modules translated into languages beyond English.
"Of course [Richard] has a knife. He always has a knife. We all have knives. It's 1183, and we're barbarians!" - Eleanor of Aquitaine, "The Lion in Winter"
I feel like I need a virtual soapbox and megaphone here...:D

Attention people! I love talking "If I ruled the world" scenarios just as much as everyone else, but these theories or suggestions all miss two critical elements:

1) Money - doesn't grow on trees. People performing professional services use it to eat. The RPGA has a limited amount of it to go around. "Just get WotC to give them more" is not how business is done. Allegedly makes the world go round.

2) Brand - WotC own D&D. They have an obligation to control the quality of their brand. Use of unpaid labor, without comprehensive checking that the work is of an acceptable quality, results in said labor actually costing quite a large amount of money.

That's right folks, I hear there are lots of theories on how to solve, not just LFR's problems but the whole wide world too - they just lack, you know, a way to pay for it. Oops... :embarrass
Joe Fitzgerald | joerpga[at]yahoo[dot]com[dot]au LFR Global Administrator
These points are of course true. I hope I didn't come across as suggesting that this was easy. But the decision to make modules from all regions playable everywhere, together with the decision to increase the level of HQ/WotC scrutiny from the situation with LG does have repercussions, and this is one of them.

Perhaps this has been discussed and WotC's decision is to have all modules in English only. I could understand that decision as it's clearly the cheapest and (possibly more importantly) the simplest. But I remain convinced that it isn't the only decision, and the real danger is that over the course of the campaign what will actually happen is that the residents of multi-lingual regions will play less and less of a role, until the regions are associated with a real-world area in name only and what is actually happening is British, Irish, North American and Australian/New Zealander authors are writing for all of the regions, with modules being played almost entirely in those countries - with some play in the more anglophone areas of northern Europe and other places where English is widely spoken. I'm pretty sure that's not what WotC and the RPGA want to happen, and it strikes me that having at least some (preferably all!) modules available in local languages is a necessity.

I can't believe that this hasn't been discussed at reasonably senior levels inside WotC (OP being one of the four pillars of D&D, remember) and so it surprises me when administrators seem to either know something that isn't good news but can't tell us, or do not know anything about the plans, this close to the launch of the campaign.

Usually I'm not one to get involved with "the RPGA should do x" discussions as I've seen the madness which that way lies too many times on these boards. But we're very close to the start of the campaign - so close that event organisers across the world are hoping to know what kind of things are going to be available - and this is one aspect of the campaign about which almost nothing has been said. I do think that this is the issue which will determine whether LFR is more successful than LG and not finding some way to provide local-language modules would seem to almost entirely restrict the campaign to the English-speaking world.

Of course that doesn't concern me too much as I'm a native English speaker, and so having all modules written in English is great for me. But it seems a shame that active RPGA communities in France and Germany (for example) may find things considerably harder as a direct result of attempts to make the campaign 'more' global.

Running D&D Adventurers League events in Sheffield, UK from August. Contact me for more details.

1) Money - doesn't grow on trees. People performing professional services use it to eat. The RPGA has a limited amount of it to go around. "Just get WotC to give them more" is not how business is done. Allegedly makes the world go round.

Why this has to be expensive? All the translation job can be done by volunteers. Why do you think this will be too expensive?

2) Brand - WotC own D&D. They have an obligation to control the quality of their brand. Use of unpaid labor, without comprehensive checking that the work is of an acceptable quality, results in said labor actually costing quite a large amount of money.

Don't get me started. I know how WotC manages their brand with the Spanish localization. You don't want to know about it.
I doubt any of the modules will be translated into other languages. Also if they aren't translated I am sure that those posting on the boards from these other countries, who seem to speak or at least read and write english just fine, will do fan based translations.
I'm quite happy to translate Dragon Coast modules into Japanese for free, for fun.

Step one: Obtain LFR module.

Step two: Translate module into Japanese.

Step three: ????

Step four: ステップ四がないよ。 ステップ四。。。 ステップ死の同じですね?

Translation:
Show
"There is no step four. Step four... same as the step of death, right?"

Note: In Japanese "Shi" or "Yon" means four, but "Shi" also means death. That's why counting from one to, say, five, one counts: ichi, ni, san, shi, go. But when counting floors on a building, say, we count differently. Kai is used to count floors on a building. Example: ichi kai, ni kai, san kai, yon kai, go kai. Otherwise it can mean: "Floor one, floor two, floor three, death floor, floor five."
Why this has to be expensive? All the translation job can be done by volunteers. Why do you think this will be too expensive?

No, it cannot. Translating a complex set of rules and concepts, particularly one that is so heavily based in fantasy, is amazingly difficult to do accurately. Just look at the sheer variety and varied translations of Sun Tzu's Art of War - they've had hundreds of years to get it right and it is less than 100 pages long!

Putting the reputation of a multi, multi-million dollar product in the hands of non-professionals (as dedicated as they are) to translate is begging for problems.

This means that not only will WotC have to maintain R&D staff fluent in every language in which the game in translated, the legal department will also have to, because it is their responsibility to clear any language which could considered offensive.

As a random example, even with the best of intentions, a volunteer could easily translate the sentence;

Tieflings are descended from demonic bloodlines and often have physical features that divulge their heritage.

to

Tieflings are the children of Satan and work to spread his legacy.

The sentences really aren't that different when attempting to find appropriate words in another language and again, if you ran your own business, would you put it to chance? I know I wouldn't.

So, either you pay a large team of language specialists (expensive) or you print the product in English only. There's only one option there I'm afraid...


Joe
Joe Fitzgerald | joerpga[at]yahoo[dot]com[dot]au LFR Global Administrator
Almighty Joe,

I have humbly placed the sample sentence through Babelfish to see what it had to say about Tieflings. (Babelfish used: http://babelfish.yahoo.com/)

Observe:

Original quote: "Tieflings are descended from demonic bloodlines and often have physical features that divulge their heritage."

English -> Japanese -> English: "There is a physical feature which it gets off from the demoniac lineage in Tieflings, leaks inheritance frequently."

English -> Simplified Chinese -> English: "Tieflings the drop devil's blood relationship and has frequently divulges their inheritance physical characteristic."

English -> Spanish -> English: "Tieflings is descended from bloodlines demonic and often has characteristic physical that discloses their inheritance." Note: This one actually translated pretty well, I think...

English -> German -> English: "Tieflings off the demo NIC Bloodlines and frequently physical characteristics are descended to have, which spread their inheritance."

English -> French -> German -> English -> Japanese -> English: "There is a physical device frequently expands the rising and heritage of the lineage of dämonischen to Tieflings."

Hilarious. :D I honestly reckon it'd be funny to run a no-risk-no-reward slot of an LFR module which has been passed through a whole heap of babelfish translations, then played word for word. I'd pay to play/run that.

Afterthought: If online play is allowed I might make a character who only speaks in English -> French -> German -> English babelfishes... awesome!
A single translation is actually not that bad at least not in Dutch, although they translate descended as decreased.

English > Dutch > English: "Tieflings have decreased of diabolic bloodlines and have frequently physical properties which reveal their inheritance."

In any event, don't get me wrong, I personally would love translations to be available. I just wanted to warn eager vollunteers that there might cold showers along the way, especially since WotC has a much tighter control over LFR than LG.

One thing any vollunteer translater should do at the very least: wait for the official D&D translation and use those game terms. They might sound ugly (and belief me, I know, I still have a Dutch translation of the red boxed set somewhere and in the computer game Baldur's Gate clerics and paladins can become undead instead of turning them), but at least you stay consistent and the gamers know what you are talking about.
(idle suggestion)

Perhaps translating modules would conflict with the commercial translation contracts less if the game terms (stat blocks, mainly) were left untranslated - then it's just 'fluff', description, dialogue etc which is being translated, and the translation companies probably don't/can't have an exclusive right to put out stories which interact with D&D mechanics.

Running D&D Adventurers League events in Sheffield, UK from August. Contact me for more details.

Perhaps, but it would only solve the problem for people who actually know the English gaming terms and I have a feeling that that might not be the true target audience of a translation. After all, if you are truly familiar with the English terms, you have at least a couple of DMs who are fluent enough in English to use the English books and they can translate adventures on the fly.

Besides, what are gaming terms and what not? Where do you draw the line? It is really not that easy when you think about it...
No, that's true. Like I said, not simple (I seem to recall starting a thread on this ages ago, pointing out that it wasn't likely to be simple!)

But a partial solution could be to say "you can't translate stat-blocks, but feel free to translate the module text." Admittedly this only helps people who've learned to play in English, but it does help them as in some respects it's going to be the story that is hardest to translate (I wonder, did anyone in Adri play 'The Medigian Job'? I am friends with the author, but he did choose some vocabulary which sent me to a dictionary to check what it meant ... I imagine most non-native speakers wouldn't know that the verb 'to beard' can mean 'to defy, to confront'.)

Running D&D Adventurers League events in Sheffield, UK from August. Contact me for more details.

WotC cannot condone a translation where they have no ability to check over and verify that it meets their standards for official product.

Which means any "officially sponsored" translation will need at least one WotC employee fluent in that language to check it over. This is even if the translation itself was done by a volunteer for free.

That said, I would not be surprised if "unofficial" translation started floating around in regions where English is not ideal for running games.


-karma

LFR Characters: Lady Tiana Elinden Kobori Silverwane - Drow Control Wizard | Kro'tak Warscream - Orc Bard | Fulcrum of Gond - Warforged Laser Cleric

AL Character: Talia Ko'bori Silverwane - Tiefling Tome Fiend Warlock

WotC cannot condone a translation where they have no ability to check over and verify that it meets their standards for official product.

Which means any "officially sponsored" translation will need at least one WotC employee fluent in that language to check it over. This is even if the translation itself was done by a volunteer for free.

-karma

You sir, are a genius. Common sense is spreading like a plague on these boards! :P


Joe
Joe Fitzgerald | joerpga[at]yahoo[dot]com[dot]au LFR Global Administrator
Re: KarmaInferno's post just above:

Not only fluent, but also someone who follows both the current colloquialisms and the literary language. One who spends some time and effort to familiarize himself/herself with the culture of that language. To be good at this job, this person needs to have better-than-decent intellectual qualities related to this language and its opus.

I don't think many people would qualify for this. Even for a commonly spoken language as, say, German, WotC might have trouble finding the right personwho is also a WotC employee.

Thus, that can't be the practical method to check any translation. Therefore, by these standards, no translation ever gets done in WotC.

There must be another way to do this.

Baris
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