After the spotlight on the Translation committee, it’s now time for our volunteer translators to shine.
Translators need to be highly inventive because many English fannish terms don’t have a handy equivalent in their language (and that’s not even counting the brand-new usages that were invented for the Archive of Our Own). Here are some examples of how OTW translators deal with this challenge:
Spanish: Inventing new words
When it comes to non-existing equivalents, the very adjective fannish is a case in point. Instead of rephrasing sentences, like the German team did, the Spanish team adopted a brand-new word coined in a section of Spanish fandom: fandomero. Neat! Here’s a usage example: Lo que creemos [Spanish].
German: Incorporating feedback
When it came to translating the unique concept of “orphaning”, the German team took the feedback on the English term into account. Some Archive users had expressed their unease with the negative connotation of the word “orphan”, and because of the flexibility of German verbs compared to English ones, we could pick a less negative compound verb. Instead of our initial favourite, the vivid verb “auswildern” (“release into the wilds”) we ultimately agreed on the more positive “freisetzen” (literally: “set free”).
[alt text: Colourful word art on white background: The word “orphan” sits amid a jumble of German words in different colours and sizes, of which “auswildern” and “freisetzen” are the most prominent.]
Finnish: Staying grammatical
Even for established fannish concepts, there’s frequently no existing translation.
While German and Spanish often solve this by borrowing English terms like “vidding” wholesale, Finnish grammar does not allow for this degree of integration. Because of the way Finnish words are inflected, our translators created the fresh composite “fanivideo” for “vidding”. (Here’s an example: Fanivideoprojektit [Finnish].)
These are just a few examples of the kind of linguistic creativity our translators need. If this sort of language nerdery appeals you, drop us a note! We would love to have you on our team. In our experience, it’s low-level, but relatively steady work. You don’t need to be a professional translator, either – a native grasp of the language is enough, and we use a beta system to help smooth things out.
Our Swedish, Danish, Finnish, and Japanese teams are recruiting in particular, but we’re looking for more translators or beta readers for all our teams. We’ll also gladly help you pioneer a language not mentioned!