As many of you already know, the publication of the final seven books of the Dray Prescot series has been held up for a number of years. This was because some of the original English manuscripts were lost. Fortunately, all but one of the missing manuscripts were found by Ken Bulmer’s family, but Book 46, Demons of Antares, continued to elude discovery. We waited and waited, and finally had to concede that it was missing for all time.
We had two options: jump to Book 47 and miss out Demons of Antares altogether, or translate Book 46 back into English from the German translation.
We chose the second option. It has taken eleven months (so far) but it is now almost finished.
The cost of professional translation would have been prohibitive, and unless the professional translator was knowledgeable of and comfortable in the style of Dray Prescot, it would have gained us very little over using Google Translate. There would still have been a lot of work to do to make the book read like a Dray Prescot novel.
So after testing a number of software translation packages and online services, I chose Google Translator Toolkit (GTT). It uses the same translation engine as Google Translate, but has some extra big guns to improve the results. It is also collaborative (and free).
With the help of a small army of volunteers, mainly from the Kregen Yahoo Group, but also two or three people who had never read the Dray Prescot books, we set to work a chapter at a time.
To try to show what we were up against, if you put the following English sentence (from chapter 1 of Transit to Scorpio) into Google Translate:
“Although I have had many names and been called many things by the men and beasts of two worlds, I was born plain Dray Prescot.”
You get this German translation:
“Ich habe zwar viele Namen hatte und schon viele Dinge von den Menschen und Tiere aus zwei Welten genannt, als ich geboren wurde Dray Prescot Ebene.”
If you then use Google Translate to translate that German sentence back into English, you get this:
“Although I have had many names and called a lot of things from the people and animals of both worlds when I was born Dray Prescot level.”
Now imagine you had never seen the original English version of this text. What on Earth (or Kregen) would you make of it?
Ninety percent of the sentences were like this. They required a lot of fiddling, a lot of choosing one of many possible translations for each word in a sentence, a lot of searching of the previous books (and the following two books) to check style and usage and spelling and consistency.
The work is ongoing, but it won’t be too much longer. The big positive to bear in mind is that the rest of the series will soon be published.