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Fan translation (or user-generated translation) refers to the unofficial translation of various forms of written or multimedia products made by fans (Fan labor), often into a language in which an official translated version is not yet available. Generally, fans do not have formal training as translators but they volunteer to participate in translation projects based on interest in a specific audiovisual genre, TV series, movie, etc.
Notable areas of fan translation include:
- Fansubbing – The subtitling of movies, television programs, video games and other audiovisual media by a network of fans. For many languages, the most popular fan subtitling is of Hollywood movies and American TV dramas, while fansubs into English are largely of East Asian entertainment, particularly anime and tokusatsu.
- Fan translation (video gaming) – this practice grew with the rise of video game console emulation in the late 1990s and still mainly focuses on older classic games. These translations are typically distributed as unofficial patches that modify the binary files of the original game into new binaries.
- Scanlation – The translation of comics, especially manga, by a fan network. Fans scan the comics, turning them into computer images and translate the text in the images. The resulting translations are then generally distributed only in electronic format. An alternative method of distributing fan-translated sequential art is to distribute only the translated text, requiring readers to purchase a copy of the work in the original language.
- Fandubbing – The dubbing of movies, television programs, video games and other audiovisual products by a network of fans. The translated audio could offer a translation of the original soundtrack or be completely replaced by a new version, normally with humorous purposes, such as a parody.
- Fan translation of written fiction, particularly short stories but sometimes including full novels.
Fan translation of audiovisual material, particularly fansubbing of anime, dates back to the 1980s. O'Hagan (2009) argues that fansubbing emerged as a form of protest over "the official often over-edited versions of anime typically aired in dubbed form on television networks outside Japan" and that fans sought more authentic translated versions in a shorter time frame.
Early fansubbing and fandubbing efforts involved manipulation of VHS tapes, which was time-consuming and expensive. The first reported fansub produced in the United States was Lupin III, produced in the mid-1980s, which required an average of 100 hours per episode to subtitle.
- O'Hagan, Minako (2009). "Evolution of User-Generated Translation: Fansubs, Translation Hacking and Crowdsourcing". The Journal of Internationalization and Localization 1: 94–121. doi:10.1075/jial.1.04hag.
- Pérez-González, Luis (2014). Audiovisual Translation: Theories Methods and Issues. London: Routledge. p. 308. ISBN 978-0-415-53027-9.
- O'Hagan, Minako (2008). "Fan Translation Networks: An Accidental Translator Training Environment?". In Kearns, John. Translator and Interpreter Training: Issues, Methods and Debates. Continuum International. pp. 158–183.
- "Self-Organized Citizen Translations of Harry Potter 7", 26 July 2007 (English translation of original Chinese article from yWeekend)
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