Getting What You Pay For

One of the many areas in which we hope to find quality translated science fiction and fantasy is manga. The field is certainly hugely popular, so there is plenty of work to choose from. But if translator Matt Thorn is to be believed, much of it is not very good.

There’s no diplomatic way to say this, so I’ll be blunt. The vast majority of my kouhai, my juniors in the field of manga translation, have no sense of rhythm, so sense of meter, so sense of what makes a line worth reading, and no sense of how to write a line worth reading.

Manga and Anime expert, Jonathan Clements, agrees with him, and says that much of the problem is because of the derisory rates of pay being offered.

But some modern entrants into the manga translation field are expected to accept fees that are only at 30% of 1995 rates. Are we surprised that even the good ones are over-worked, harassed and otherwise distracted?

Is this sort of problem common elsewhere? One of the things we hope to do with out awards is raise the profile of good quality translators so that they can obtain better pay for their work.