Elaine T. contributes this interesting set of translations of the opening paragraphs of Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation. I’m pulling that out of the comments and presenting the translations here so those of us who might be interested can compare them.
Translation 1: The Official translation from Seven Seas — this is the version I posted —
REJOICE, Wei Wuxian is dead!”
It hadn’t been a day since the Siege of the Burial Mound, and the news had already flown across the entire cultivation world as if it had sprouted wings. The speed was only comparable to how fast the flames of war had spread back then, if not faster.
Suddenly everyone, whether they were prominent clans or rogue cultivators, was discussing this operation of vanquishment that had been led by the four great clans and attended by hundreds of sects both big and small.
“Fantastic, fantastic indeed! Who was the hero who killed the Yiling Patriarch?”
“Who else could it be? Ain’t it his shidi, the little sect leader Jiang Cheng? The four major clans fronted the attack: the Jiang Clan of Yunmeng, the Jin Clan of Lanling, the Lan Clan of Gusu, and the Nie Clan of Qinghe. Crushing family for the greater good, they destroyed Wei Wuxian’s good ol’ lair, the Burial Mound.”
Translation 2: The highly regarded unfinished Taming Wangxian translation, only available on the Wayback Machine. This one is notable for being the sole translation that keeps the author’s placement of the protaganist’s name. She wanted it to be the first word(s) readers saw in the novel.
“Wei Wuxian is dead! How gratifying is that!”
The siege at the Burial Mounds had just come to an end. Yet, before the second day, news had already taken flight across the cultivation world, spreading faster than the flames of war.
Suddenly, everyone, be it the aristocratic families or the wandering cultivators, were in unison in discussing the siege operation carried out by the coalition led by the Four Great Clans, with participation from the various smaller clans.
“This is a moment of jubilation! Which worthy hero held the blade that slayed the Yiling Laozu?”
“Who else could it be but his junior, the Young Clan Leader of the Jiang Clan, Jiang Cheng. Led by the four Great Clans – the Jiang Clan of Yunmeng, Jin Clan of Lanling, Lan Clan of Gusu, Nie Clan of Qinghe – Wei Wuxian’s den, the Burial Mounds, was razed to the ground in the name of justice.”
Translation 3: The only complete fan translation, known as ‘Exiled Rebels’ as that was where it was posted.
“Great news! Wèi Wúxiàn has died!”
Less than a day has passed since the siege in the Burial Mounds, and the news spreads through the cultivation world as if it sprouted wings, surpassing even the speed of warfare.
For a while, from the most prominent clans to rogue cultivators, everyone is discussing the siege that was led by the Four Great Clans and followed by hundreds of smaller ones.
“The Yílíng Lǎozǔ has died? Who could have killed him?”
“Who other than his shidi, Jiāng Chéng, putting an end to his own relative for the greater good. Jiāng Chéng led the Four Clans of Yunmeng Jiāng, Lanling Jin, Gūsū Lán, and Qinghe Niè to destroy his den—the Burial Mounds.”
Translation 4: Lastly, the one being done by the person going by Fan Yiyi
“Everyone rejoice, Wei Wuxian is dead!”
Only a day after the end of the siege of the Burial Mounds, news of Wei Wuxian’s demise had already sprouted wings and flown to every corner of the cultivation world, sweeping the land faster than the flames of war.
For a period afterwards, everyone, from wandering cultivators to those of the mightiest and most prestigious of sects, discussed how the Four Great Clans commanded thousands into the siege.
“Rejoice, rejoice! Say, which hero dealt the finishing blow to the Yiling Laozu?”
“Who else could it be? His disciple-brother, Chief Jiang Cheng of the Yunmeng Jiang Sect! He and the head clans of the other three Great Sects, the Lanling Jin Sect, the Gusu Lan Sect, and the Qinghe Nie Sect, led the charge. Sect Chief Jiang killed his own disciple-brother and destroyed his lair for the good of us all. The Burial Mounds are gone!”
Personally, I favor Translation 2.
I like “Rejoice! Wei Wuxian is dead!” much better than “Wei Wuxian is dead! How gratifying is that!” I mean, A LOT better. But overall, I like Translation 2 the best.
Comparing line by line is especially interesting. I mean, look at this:
- “Fantastic, fantastic indeed! Who was the hero who killed the Yiling Patriarch?”
- “This is a moment of jubilation! Which worthy hero held the blade that slayed the Yiling Laozu?”
- “The Yílíng Lǎozǔ has died? Who could have killed him?”
- “Rejoice, rejoice! Say, which hero dealt the finishing blow to the Yiling Laozu?”
Only #3 makes no attempt to capture the tone of the line. I mean, I’m assuming the line in the original conveys jubilation and rejoicing, since three of the four attempt to capture that tone. The third just doesn’t bother. I’d be inclined to write off that version immediately for that reason.
Here’s another with a huge tonal difference:
- Who else could it be? Ain’t it his shidi, the little sect leader Jiang Cheng?
- Who else could it be but his junior, the Young Clan Leader of the Jiang Clan, Jiang Cheng.
- Who other than his shidi, Jiāng Chéng, putting an end to his own relative for the greater good.
- Who else could it be? His disciple-brother, Chief Jiang Cheng of the Yunmeng Jiang Sect!
I wonder if the original is supposed to be a lower-class person speaking? Only #1 makes any attempt to capture that kind of tone.
I actually plan to just read the books without analyzing everything to death, but in the back of my mind, I’ll be wondering about the accuracy of the tone as much as the accuracy of the words.
Thank you, Elaine, for contributing these translations!
5 thoughts on “Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation: Translating the opening paragraphs”
I read a YA book a few years back about havkers and djinns that was mostly fine, but had a couple paragraphs I really likesin it comparing translation to a quantum state collapse. The gist was, when you read something in its original language, as the native speaker of a different language, you can consider lots of potential nuances of meaning or different interpretations. When you pick just one way to translate it, though, you collapse it to just one of those options.
Translations can be truly fun.
I’m not at all impressed by “How gratifying is that!” If you really wanted to keep the name first, how difficult would it be to say “Wu Weixian is dead! Hurrah!” Or “Three cheers!”; something along those lines.
Or, for that matter, “Rejoice!”
Agreed on the ‘gratifying’ word choice. However I appreciate in general the attempt to vary the speech so as to indicate different registers – which means, social class, education, etc. without spelling anything extra out. And it does add to the effect of a crowd babbling, which I believe is what the aim was.