Baka-Tsuki Community Project Team Interview

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Welcome to the Baka-Tsuki Community Blog! Time for another interview!

Our guest this time will be Lygophile, a Chinese-English translator for BT~

Hello! Who are you & when did you join B-T?

I am lygophile (uncapitalized), and I made a forum account for B-T about five years ago in August 2009, back when Suzumiya Haruhi was still alive and one of the very few projects. I’m pretty sure I was around for maybe a year before then, albeit without an account.

Where does your username come from?

It’s actually a word, although pretty much unused for most purposes. ‘Lygo’ is a prefix that basically means ‘darkness’, and ‘phile’ is the standard suffix. I came up with this as my new online tag maybe six or eight years ago – I can’t remember anymore. It has a very ‘chuuni’ feel, which is a bit embarrassing now. But it sounds pretty decent, which is why I picked it in the first place.

Which project have you contributed to in the past & currently active on?

I actually made my forum account to send a pm asking to join as an editor for Chrome Shelled Regios (CSR). I worked with Blewin (the main translator at that time) and edited that for a couple of years until CSR started stalling in late-2010-ish. Then I sat around doing nothing until mid-2013. At that point, I decided to hop back on the CSR train, but as a Chinese translator this time. I churned out eight or nine volumes in half a year to finish up everything I could for CSR (There are two volumes left, but they’re not in Chinese yet). Near the end, I started thinking about another project to work on and eventually decided upon Tokyo Ravens, a decision that I’m currently very pleased with. I’ve completed nine volumes of Tokyo Ravens so far, and there are two left until it’s up to date. I haven’t thought about what to do after that.

Tell us a little about yourself, where are you from?

I was born and raised in the United States. I was first introduced to manga at around middle school, followed by anime, light novels, and visual novels (but that’s a different matter) in that order.

What motivated you to work on B-T?

During the summer of 2013, I went back to Chrome Shelled Regios and really wanted to figure out what happened later on. So I hunted around for a Chinese version of the novels (Chinese being the only other language I’m at all familiar with) and looked at them. I wasn’t expecting too much, since my Chinese was not very good. Surprisingly, I realized that I was more or less able to read, and so I started wondering whether I would be capable of translating. I tried my hand at some of the CSR short stories first and had a decent experience translating. Around then, Blewin announced that she would be unable to continue translating CSR due to life (fortunately, something that I have very little of). I decided to go ahead and continue working on the main storyline of CSR. I figured that I would use this as a way to improve my Chinese reading ability. It also helps that I have a lot of free time.

As a rather new translator compared to the average person interviewed, do you think being new around here is challenging? Did you manage to get the help you needed?

I don’t think being new was a problem at all. I’m really fortunate to have great editors and TL checkers like Xstar for CSR and Lens for Tokyo Ravens (among others, of course), and I’m extremely grateful to them.

Any advice you would like to give to new translators and new editors?

Translators, especially the mortal ones like me, definitely need perseverance. It takes quite a bit of effort to translate a volume or even a single chapter. English fluency is also as important as fluency in the language of the original text, I believe. Readability is actually something I think to be more important than precision.

Of course, English fluency is also a must for editors. I personally think that substituting more-appropriate words or phrases is totally acceptable for editors, and there are many cases where it’s desirable to reconstruct an entire sentence to better convey its meaning. One thing I definitely advise is to pay attention to sentence structure. Don’t be afraid of moving parts of a sentence around and adding or removing commas. This is one thing that helps to improve readability a lot if done correctly.

What are novels that you would like to recommend?

Chrome Shelled Regios and Tokyo Ravens, obviously. Oregairu is hilarious, amazing, and unique – unfortunately most of Volumes 2-6 are untranslated (I read them in Chinese). Index is incredible and has constructed one of the largest interconnected universes of characters I’ve ever encountered. I highly recommend all of the above.

Lastly, anything you want to say to your colleagues? To the readers?

Thanks for translating/editing/reading!

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