Below are some of the most common questions I receive. If you have a question that isn’t answered here, contact me on Twitter or one of these other ways.
FAQ Table of Contents
- Helping the Site – how to support my work, donation stuff, I’ll buy certain things from you, how to send things in the mail
- Articles & Books – suggesting article ideas, being a guest article/book author, suggesting book ideas, shipping costs
- Studying & Careers – learning Japanese (or any language really), how to get translation jobs, how to be a good translator, how I personally got into Japanese-to-English translation
- Interviews & Other Requests – interviews, conventions, asking for translation help, hiring me for professional translation work
Helping the Site
How can I help?
There are three main ways you can support me and my work:
- Buy my books – even if you’re not a fan of the specific series or topic, I guarantee you’ll learn a lot and still have a lot of fun. In fact, I write all my books with non-fans and non-experts squarely in mind.
Even if the books just aren’t your thing, though, maybe you know someone who might like them – friends, family members, classmates, etc. Or you could just buy some books and donate them to a school or a library. That way, you’ll be helping others and supporting the site at the same time.
- Share my articles with friends who’d enjoy them.
My problem is this: not many people wake up in the morning and think, “Woohoo! Today I’m gonna go read about video game translations!” But I also always hear, “Man, how did I never know about this site until now?!”
Basically, there’s a lot of people out there who’d enjoy my articles – they just don’t know that this site exists. So if you know of anyone like that, it helps them and me if you share my stuff with them!
Do you take donations?
I don’t take monetary donations, but if you have any spare game magazines, manuals, or other materials lying around, I do accept those. I’m especially looking for Japanese materials.
My budget is very small, but if you have anything cool or rare that you’d like to offer, let me know and I might be able to buy it off you. In general, I’m eager to get old Japanese games, magazines, books, and the like.
Can I send you stuff in the mail?
If for some reason you want to mail me something, you can send it here:Legends of Localization c/o Fangamer
5505 E Speedway Blvd
Tucson, AZ 85712
Articles & Books
Can you write an article about ______?
I do take requests for articles, but keep in mind that my request backlog is so big that I’ve hit a kind of “request paralysis” – I want to answer everyone’s questions but I don’t know where to start.
If you do want to send a question, there are three guidelines:
- Make your question as specific as possible – instead of asking something broad like “What’s different in Legend of Dude RPG’s English translation?”, ask something specific like “What was the mecha-dragon’s original Japanese text like in Legend of Dude RPG?”
- Provide as much info as possible – not just game details, but screenshots/videos too. I used to spend entire days hunting down specific scenes in games I’ve never played before, and it eventually burned me out. So now I ask that you provide Japanese and English screenshots (or video links) beforehand if possible.
- E-mail your questions to email@example.com, or if you think your question is short and simple enough, you can ask me on Twitter. If you send me your questions on any other platform, I probably won’t see it for a long time.
Do you do articles besides Japanese-to-English stuff?
My articles and books focus on Japanese-to-English because that’s my specialty, but I would love to branch out and post articles about other language pairs. I just don’t have the know-how to do it myself. See below if you can help!
Do you allow guest posts on this site?
If you’re a professional translator with lots of game knowledge (especially retro games), let me know if you have an idea for a guest post. In particular, I’d like to have articles that explore language pairs outside of Japanese-to-English.
I’m willing to pay, of course – I can’t stand that whole “you’ll get free exposure” thing that people try to pull on freelancers. Some general topics I’m interested in include:
- Examples of famous “All Your Base”-level translations in other languages
- Famous (or infamous) game translators in different countries
- What kind of interesting problems are common in English-to-Whatever game translations?
Stuff like that is what I’m hoping to learn more about, so let me know if you can help in that regard!
Can I get your books in digital form?
No, they’re currently physical books only. It’s a decision out of my hands but I’d like to have it happen someday.
Is there any way to get cheaper international shipping?
Fangamer sometimes has discounted international shipping sales, so that’s a good time to buy if shipping costs are normally too much. (Note that I don’t actually handle the book shipping myself, I just do the writing.)
The problem is that shipping companies have been dropping many of their services over the past few years, while raising the remaining prices like crazy (here’s some info). On top of that, Amazon has sort of convinced people that shipping is super-cheap despite the spiking costs. Fangamer is always figuring out ways to make shipping as cheap as possible, though – for example, shipping a 4.5 lb/2 kg book to Canada used to cost like $30-40 in 2016, but is down to about $17 in 2018.
Can you write a book about ______?
I’m always open to suggestions, but can’t guarantee anything. My books take me at least six months to a year to complete, and I already have the next few years of books roughly planned out already.
A few of my current books come with survey postcards, and I take those into heavy account when choosing upcoming book topics. So if you really want me to cover certain games, that’s one of the best ways to get heard. I might also do some polls on the site from time to time too, and I’ll probably take those into lesser account.
Can I work with you on a book?
I am open to having guest book authors write stuff under the Legends of Localization umbrella. After all, there are so many topics I don’t know about and there’s only one of me. I’ll probably never have enough time to become an expert on the Persona/Megami Tensei/Digital Devil Saga/Whatever-Else games in two languages and then write about them, for example. I’m worried I’ll give Tony a heart attack if I dump too many books on his plate though!
Studying & Careers
How can I start learning Japanese?
It’s tough to answer this because everyone’s situation is different. Here are some articles I’ve written that might help, though:
- Learning Japanese & Becoming a Translator – this contains a lot of info, some of which isn’t just for learning Japanese, but it should have some useful info
- The Road to Becoming a Professional Japanese->English Translator (Part 1) – don’t let the title fool you; this is almost entirely about learning Japanese. I wrote this 10+ years ago and meant to make a Part 2, but never did
- Informative / Educational Articles – you can find many more of my articles about the Japanese language, culture, translation industry, and more here
There are so many resources available today that I never even dreamed of when I started studying the language. Try a bunch of different sites, old textbooks, YouTube channels, community forums, and anything else you can think of.
And, of course, the three biggest things I’d recommend are to study Japanese in school if you can, study in Japan after you’ve hit the intermediate level of proficiency, and try translating something large like a novel. Not everyone can pull all three of these things off, but just try your absolute hardest before convincing yourself it’s impossible.
How did you learn Japanese?
You can read more about my own story in the links above. The short story is that I started studying on a whim when I was about 15. The first year was just self-study using a textbook meant for 2nd year college courses and a tiny phrasebook.
After that I took college courses during my high school summer breaks. I stopped studying for a few years, and then decided to pick it back up by studying in Japan. After that, I just tried to read, watch, listen, etc. as much as I could and started translating small things. Eventually I translated a novel in my spare time between college classes. Beyond that, it just became a matter of absorbing and learning just like you continue to learn new English words all the time even though you already know English pretty well.
Anyway, check out the articles above and this old Gamasutra interview for more details.
How can I get good at translating?
First, you have to get good at understanding the source language and get good at writing in the target language. Practice all the time by translating all kinds of different things: pamphlets, comics, web pages, magazine articles, books, videos, game text, podcasts, washing machine instructions… Think of it as being like Rocky doing his training montages, except you’re hunched over a desk instead of frolicking on the beach.
It’s also extremely helpful to pay attention to how other people have translated things. Doing side-by-side comparisons can teach you so many tricks and how to avoid certain traps.
Also, always keep this graph about experience and confidence in mind as you progress – watch out for being overconfident when you start out.
How much money do translators make?
It depends on the field you’re in, what language pair you’re dealing with, what country you live in, and so on. Japanese-to-English entertainment translation doesn’t make a whole lot of money compared to other fields, so if you’re genuinely considering getting into entertainment translation, keep that in mind. Even with my skills and background I usually fell significantly under the median income.
Also, most translators don’t work in-house – they’re usually freelancers or contractors. This means you’ll usually have to continually hunt for work or work with agencies. Still, if you have some serious skills and are a real go-getter, you can probably make some good money.
Keep in mind that freelancers/contractors have all kinds of additional worries to consider: if you live in America, for example, you have to make estimated tax payments four times a year, you have to pay for your own health insurance, etc. entirely on your own, you’ll have to pay some extra self-employment taxes, and such. When you add all these things up, being a translator can be really stressful – and we haven’t even started talking about translation work itself!
Basically, read this article and this article if you’re curious about the business side of being a translator.
How can I get a job in the translation industry?
There’s no easy answer, but for now I’ve written an article about my own experiences here.
I’m ___ years old. Is it too late for me to learn a new language or get into translating?
No! It’s not too late! Some prolific translators I’ve worked with only started studying in their 30s and 40s. And I know plenty of translators who are even older and still active. Picking up language skills later in life is entirely possible.
Interviews and Other Requests
Can I interview you for an article/a school project?
Sure! I do interviews all the time for everything from big publications to tiny class projects. Note that I almost always prefer to do interviews via e-mail – I’m a bit shy, plus it helps me fit them into my schedule and give more thoughtful responses.
Can you be on my podcast/be a guest at my convention?
Sometimes I do podcasts, but it’s not really my thing usually. I’ve done some convention panels in the past, but after some poor experiences I generally shy away from them.
Will you translate _____ for me?
If you have something that’s like a paragraph long or less, let me know and I can take a look at it for you (for free of course).
Can I hire you?
I do take on small translation jobs from time to time, so if you’re looking for something small translated into English, I can possibly help. If not, I can try to introduce you to someone who can.
More recently, I’ve started to offer services as a translation consultant – basically, I do what I do on this site: compare a Japanese-to-English translation with its source text and then fix things/write up a report about anything of note. Even though my focus is on Legends of Localization these days, I still do this sort of consultation work almost every day.
I offer the opposite service too: English-to-Japanese translation checks. For example, if you’re an English-speaking game developer and recently had your game’s text translated into Japanese, you’re basically flying blind – chances are you have no way of assuring that the translation is accurate and problem-free. But that’s the exact recipe for “All Your Base Are Belong To Us”! So if you’re worried about taking off all zig, I can help.
If you’re interested, my contact info is here.