Author Topic: Apocalypse World – Undergången kom (Swedish translation)  (Read 1220 times)

Jonatan

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Apocalypse World – Undergången kom (Swedish translation)
« on: January 07, 2017, 09:03:38 AM »
Apocalypse World
– Undergången kom –

Ingen minns hur eller varför. Det kanske aldrig var någon som visste. De allra äldsta överlevarna har barndomsminnen från när det hände: städer som brann, samhället i kaos och sedan kollaps, familjer som flydde i panik, de sällsamma nätterna när himlen brann som av blodröd midnattssol.

Nu är världen inte längre vad den var. Se dig omkring: tveklöst, bevisligen, inte vad den en gång var. Men också om du sluter ögonen, öppnar din hjärna: något är fel. Där, precis där du inte riktigt kan höra det, något som ylar, ofrånkomligt, fyllt av hat och terror. Från detta, världens psykiska malström, kan ingen av oss skydda sig.


What's this?
It's Apocalypse World translated into Swedish! Today, Skepnad Studios proudly unveil their biggest RPG project ever: the official Swedish translation of Apocalypse World 2nd Ed.

Who are you?
Skepnad Studios are a small but broad publisher, whose previous projects include system-agnostic supplements such as NPCs of the Wasteland and the recently Kickstarted loot cards UNITS.

The translation is done by me, Jonatan Kilhamn. I have been a big AW fan since the first edition came out back in 2010, and was first contacted with the intention of having me consult on how the game works. After working more with the text, I asked if I could do the whole translation!

When will it happen?
The text is translated in full, which means we now start working in earnest on the actual book, with all that entails. Our plan is to have it published sometime this spring, but it's unwise to make any promises at this stage.

Proof-reading
One of the first things we need to do now that the text is translated is to proof-read. Do you speak Swedish, and are interested in helping us out? We'd appreciate your help! Read more in this thread over at the Swedish RPG site www.rollspel.nu.


Are you hype for AW in Swedish? I'm hype!
Jonatan Kilhamn, at Skepnad Studios

Zwolfe124

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Re: Apocalypse World – Undergången kom (Swedish translation)
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2017, 03:17:24 AM »
Even though I don't know Swedish I am excited for this game to be more accessible. I hope it turns out great for you guys!

Paul T.

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Re: Apocalypse World – Undergången kom (Swedish translation)
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2017, 09:36:53 PM »
Likewise!

DWeird

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Re: Apocalypse World – Undergången kom (Swedish translation)
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2017, 09:21:07 AM »
AW is a very lively text, full of idioms and patterns of speech that don't hop over to other languages all that easily. Respect for stepping to the task!

What was the hardest thing to do, in your translation process?

Jonatan

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Re: Apocalypse World – Undergången kom (Swedish translation)
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2017, 07:52:12 PM »
I think the thing that makes me the most unsure of myself is the "spoken language", often ungrammatical, that shows up not as transcripts of dialogue, but in the general explanatory text. Stuff like "You're taking turns, but it's not like taking turns, right?" or "For most of the characters, the special sex moves apply when they have sex with another player's character, not with oh just anybody, but for a few of them, oh just anybody will do."

Because there's a whole spectrum between "ungrammatical in the exact same way as the original", "ungrammatical but that's how I'd actually say it" and "grammatically correct because it actually sounds better that way".


And of course, playbook names. I haven't found a way to translate the Battlebabe by using words for "battle" and "babe" (that aren't really bad puns), so my top contender right now is Tigrinnan – literally "the Tigress". I really like it, but I'm also very afraid that I'm messing up something subtle really bad.

On the whole it's been very fun and rewarding, though!

DWeird

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Re: Apocalypse World – Undergången kom (Swedish translation)
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2017, 04:15:37 AM »
Yeah, I bet the difficulty of the text increases the satisfaction in successfully translating it! Oh, and your answer actually got me another question - Swedish has grammatical gender, right? AW is pretty strong on the gender of the playbooks being an open question. How did you deal with that?

Jonatan

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Re: Apocalypse World – Undergången kom (Swedish translation)
« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2017, 08:26:54 PM »
I'm not sure what you mean by grammatical gender. If you're talking about the way e.g. German has der, das or die for all nouns, where der is masculine and die is feminine, i.e. implicitly giving all objects a gender, then Swedish doesn't have it. We have two grammatical genders, den and det, but neither is either masculine or feminine. So a table is just "it", we just have to types of "it" (and the way we divvy up nouns between them seems pretty arbitrary).

But I can tell you about pronouns!

We do have a lively discussion within Swedish RPG design, and Swedish language generally, about "he/she" and similar constructs; third person singular where gender doesn't matter, isn't known, or doesn't fit into the gender binary. In traditional Swedish written language, there's han (he) and hon (she), and if you want to remove gender you'll have to do (sometimes awkward) reformulations like "the person in question" or "the player" or whatever. But there is the gender-neutral pronoun "hen", first suggested in the 60's but gaining traction in the 2010's. However, there has been an online debate, much more polarizing than one would've hoped was necessary, with "hen" opponents calling it unnecessary or unnatural ("let's face it, every person is either male or female"). Obviously it's both a useful word (for contexts where gender really is unnecessary), a good word (allows non-binary people to assert their identity and have it respected), and a real word (people are using it, so it's a "real" word whatever you happen to think about it).

However, because of the venom spewed on "hen", a lot of people shy away from using it in formal contexts, and it's gained a sort of... visibility. It's like, it has the potential to be this very compact, utilitarian tool in RPG rule text, where you always talk about player A doing something to player B and then the game master does this other thing, and at no point does it have any relevance whatsoever who among them identify using he, she, or otherwise. But if you write a text like this, everyone's first reaction is going to be "wow, they are really using 'hen' a lot in this text" – even readers who themselves support the use of "hen"! It's become noteworthy, and stands out, and will probably have to be eased into written language for quite a while more before it feels natural to read. Which really is a shame. Why the fuck should it be so hard to consider a person divorced from their gender? (Spoiler: because of patriarchy and the gender binary.)

There are similar gender-neutral pronouns in English (e.g. Spivak) but they aren't, in my understanding as common or heavily pushed as "hen" in Swedish. In turn, you have the singular they (with a similar debate, of course). Sadly, it doesn't really work as well in Swedish as in English, probably only due to exposure – it still "sounds wrong" to too many people.

Now, the original AW has decided grammatical genders on most or all of the characters who show up in examples. I think all players and MCs in the examples, and the general "the player" and "the MC", use "she". We're considering different options on how to translate this. We really want to use "hen" – it's sad that this is the case, but using it in a printed book is a political action; one that all of us at Skepnad Studios support; and one that we also feel aligns with the spirit of the game itself. At the same time, we don't want it to get in the way of readability or text flow, so we don't want to overuse it. Bakers' choice to have irrelevant genders consistently be "she" deserves some sort of respect, but I'm also confident in saying that using "hen" won't clash with their intentions either.


After writing all of this, I realised your question might have been prompted by the Tigress, since it's gendered while "the Tiger" would read as ungendered. When it comes to animals, professions and probably a number of other categories of words I can't recall right now, yes, we usually have one male and one female version. Lärare and lärarinna mean teacher and teacheress respectively, for example. However, the evolution of Swedish for quite a long time has been to stop using the female form, and consider the male form universal. So "lärare", while originally/technically male, can be used about a female teacher no problem. For a few exceptions, like "sjuksköterska" (nurse), the female form has become the accepted gender-neutral one.

This means that if you want to construct a playbook name from a verb, like "driver", you would use the "technically male" variant, and no-one would bat an eye. For "förare" (driver), like many others, you could construct the feminine "förarinna" if you really wanted to, but it would just sound archaic or made-up. So other than the battlebabe, all playbook names are nouns or "verb-ers" that are essentially gender-neutral. With the battlebabe though, I really like the fact that the English name is gendered, and would like to preserve this property. And while "tiger" (same word in Swedish) would read as gender-neutral, "tigrinna" (tigress) does have different connotations. There are associations not just to the jungle but to amazons; not just to felines but to cat burglars, Catwoman. A tiger is dangerous, a tigress is dangerous and sexy. It's not perfect, and I'm still unsure on whether it's the best choice, but I do like it. It being gendered, though, is a deliberate choice, and not a limitation of Swedish (more than the fact that "babe" reads as feminine is a limitation of English).


I hope I'm making sense, despite using all these Swedish examples that probably look like, heh, Greek to some of you.

DWeird

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Re: Apocalypse World – Undergången kom (Swedish translation)
« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2017, 05:18:57 AM »
Thanks for going into such depth about your process and concerns. People only really notice when it goes wrong, but preserving meaning over languages is such a fragile art. I've had flops with otherwise great games because the emotive content and ritual aspect of a game doesn't translate easily over languages, beyond even just the mere fact of having to translate at the table at all. One of the reasons why I play most of my games with native English speakers online or such.

It's actually easier with games that don't rely on the shorthand of emotive language and connotations as much, and are more like technical manuals. Like, translating D&D's "strength" isn't really an issue, that can go several "good enough" ways. "Hard", though? Translating that into Lithuanian literally gives me a word that has more connotations of AW's "cool" than anything else. But then what do you do with all the moves that work off the physical metaphor of the word, like "Ice cold" and such.

It's difficult!

So again, a lot of respect for the work that you are doing.

Paul T.

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Re: Apocalypse World – Undergången kom (Swedish translation)
« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2017, 04:59:27 PM »
A really great discussion, very interesting to read.

I'd like to point out that there is some precedent for "gender neutral" pronouns used in gaming, and that's "Shock: Social Science Fiction". The text uses "gender neutral" (i.e. "made-up") pronouns throughout, and makes quite a point of it.

It works particularly well because of the game's subject matter, however. We're talking about *the future*, after all.

Perhaps you could take a similar angle with your text, and say a little bit upfront about how the apocalypse has ruined or obscured the gender binary. The text of Apocalypse World is already somewhat "in character"; adding gender-neutral pronouns as a "character feature", a part of the "voice of the apocalypse" could perhaps help you get away with that more easily or smoothly. (And opponents of gender-neutral pronouns would even be free to read your text as a condemnation of that, if they so chose - they could think to themselves that this is yet another "evil" of the apocalypse, and the way it takes form in a society which has "lost civilization".)

I don't know if that's helpful, but perhaps it will spark some new thoughts for someone.

Jerry Skold

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Re: Apocalypse World – Undergången kom (Swedish translation)
« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2017, 07:48:05 AM »
It is so cool to see this project continue! I´ve been thinking about it now and then since you mentioned it was going to happen, and it is a serious undertaking to tackle the grammatical style of the original game and try to make it work in Swedish. Kudos.

Jimmy

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Re: Apocalypse World – Undergången kom (Swedish translation)
« Reply #10 on: March 21, 2017, 12:17:51 AM »
It is so cool to see this project continue! I´ve been thinking about it now and then since you mentioned it was going to happen, and it is a serious undertaking to tackle the grammatical style of the original game and try to make it work in Swedish. Kudos.

Jerry: I still have a spot reserved for you! Say hi here: jimmy (at) ringkvist (small filled circle) se - and I´ll suggest sumthin' cool.

Skepnad STUDIOS

Arvid

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Re: Apocalypse World – Undergången kom (Swedish translation)
« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2017, 09:02:25 AM »
I'm not sure what you mean by grammatical gender. If you're talking about the way e.g. German has der, das or die for all nouns, where der is masculine and die is feminine, i.e. implicitly giving all objects a gender, then Swedish doesn't have it. We have two grammatical genders, den and det, but neither is either masculine or feminine. So a table is just "it", we just have to types of "it" (and the way we divvy up nouns between them seems pretty arbitrary).

Didn't "Den" and "det" used to be masculine and feminine back in the olden days?

Jonatan

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Re: Apocalypse World – Undergången kom (Swedish translation)
« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2017, 08:48:43 AM »
I don't think so; rather, non-person nouns used to have the feminine and masculine "hon" or "han". See https://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utrum