Third Editions, C'est Dommage

Third Editions is a French publishing house, known in France as a publisher of video game-related books exploring the story and history of games such as Metal Gear, Legend of Zelda, and others. A couple years ago, they decided to make the jump to the English-reading world via Kickstarter, funding translations of some of their more popular works. As a way to drum up interest, they offered a number of special editions of their printed copies, as well as e-book copies of the ordered books.

A friend recommended I check out the offer and I decided to fund at the $100-level, which netted me three hardcopies and another e-book in addition to the ones for the hardcopies I would receive. I ended up with their books on Zelda, Final Fantasy VII, and Dark Souls, along with a digital copy of their book on Metal Gear.

I decided to spend some time reading the digital copies before the physical copies were shipped. In the process, I discovered a number of print errors such as misspellings or missing spaces (e.g. - inthe end), as well as aspects of “Fringrish,” or literal translations from French into English. A more subtle, arguably editorial, and unclear issue are instances of vastly differing authorial voices in different sections of the book clearly written by different people. I think it’s clear the first two categories are clear problems with a published work and should be fixed, whereas one can debate the value of addressing the third category.

To that end, I started highlighting words, sections, and sentences I felt could stand to be addressed, knowing I could easily export the highlights from my Kindle and send them along to the original authors. While I initially was not impressed at the writing quality, I felt that part of the process of a Kickstarter would be greater access to the creators and an opportunity to affect change in something I paid for, even though I wouldn’t be the beneficiary.

Before I spent too much time doing this, however, I reached out via Kickstarter to Third Editions and asked if this kind of feedback would be helpful and in what form or subject area, as I know many people are sensitive to feedback on both their writing as well as foreign language skills. The response I receive was prompt and cordial:

“Yes do not hesitate to write them down and send them if you can to thirdeditionsenglish@gmail.com It’s too late for the printed ones, but we’ll note and improve the correction of the text on the next runs! Thanks a lot for the feedback!”

So, I did.

And received no response.

That, in itself, didn’t really irritate me much. Sure, my effort went to waste. I volunteered to spend my time doing so, and it was my time to volunteer. But two things started to bother me.

For one, the e-book editions haven’t been updated, even two years later. While the print versions may not benefit until the next printing, the digital versions would. Because it’s not published on a platform like Amazon’s but instead distributed directly to the people who ordered them, there is no publishing friction (review cost, update cost, etc).

For another, every instance of feedback I can find regarding these books has been universal praise, with the only negative feedback regarding shipping delays and damage. This leads me to one of two conclusions:

  1. The people who ordered their books ordered them as coffee table decorations as opposed to actually reading them. Unfortunate.
  2. The people reading these books just don’t care. Also unfortunate.

In any event, below you may find all of my annotations, some with commentary. Note that some encoding errors may come into play for certain unicode characters being copy-pasted a few times.

Zelda

Typos/Corrections

Location 267

With more focus on detail than in a fairy tale, a legend is often centered on a specific person, place or event; ail elements that we find in The Legend of Zelda.

“ail” should be “all”

Location 482

A good creation myth has to go back to time immemorial, when a stillpristine world was only waiting for the first spark to set its story in motion. tale of the how the land of Hyrule was created is no exception.

“stillpristine” should be “still-pristine” “The” is misplaced in the following sentence, should be “The tale of how the land” as opposed to “tale of the how the land”

Location 551

Although the plot of The Adventure of Link appeared to follow up on that of the first title in the series, the observant player will notice certain inconsistencies: the Princess Zelda who was presented in Zelda IIas having been asleep for centuries—although she was clearly awake in the first episode—was only one of many.

a space after Zelda II, as in “who was presented in Zelda IIas”

Location 2866

This little shooting game takes place in the world of Zelda: Twilight Princess, with Link in the starring rôle.

“rôle” has a circumflex over the o, should be “role”

Location 3012

In these three games, the player’s goal is to find as many dues as they can, hidden in the environment or in lines of dialogue, to help them put together an enormous puzzle: either the history of the world in which the game is set, or the main character’s past.

“find as many dues” should be “find as many clues”

Word choice/editorializing

Location 246

Note in this connection that the mandrake, a plant traditionally associated with magical rituals, is called Alraune in German; the Proto-Germanic roots of this word are said to signify secret of the elves.

This sentence stands out to me as somehow missing some context compared to the sentences that proceed it and follow it. Perhaps there was a longer discussion that was cut down and this was what remained? While it does expand on the legends of the elves, it seems somewhat out of place.

Location 1759

A most enjoyable new feature.

Picky and pedantic :p, but this is a sentence fragment. It would be better to start it with a comma and link it to the previous sentence.

Location 1920

Only in this second part is Link able to change into a wolf whenever he likes, teleport to different places on the map, and freely visit all the different regions in the kingdom of Hyrule—far vaster here than in earlier installments.

“vaster” might be better as “more vast”. While “vaster” is a valid English word, it sounds awkward in modern usage.

Location 2286

Recovering from his emotions, Link realizes that while he was unconscious, his bird has brought him back to the Knight Academy.

I’m not sure what is meant by “Recovering from his emotions,” and unfortunately I haven’t played Skyward Sword so I don’t have the context for this scene. Perhaps it should be “Waking from unconsciousness” or “Returning to consciousness?”

Location 2319

Unsurprisingly, one of those colleagues was the producer of Wii Sports Resort, Katsuya Eguchi—working as a kind of secret agent for Miyamoto, who was little inclined to see Aonuma give up the fight.

For “little inclined” I might suggest “not inclined” or “little-inclined.”

Final Fantasy VII

Typos/Corrections

Location 731

He tells Zack that to hait his body’s degradation, he needs the young man’s cells.

“hait” should be “halt”

Location 1251

While the Weapon has been vanquished, there is no time to thwart its final counter-attack: it crashes into the tower where Rufus has taken refuge.

The colon should be a semicolon.

Location 1252

As Cloud and his friends are preparing to head to the North Crater to confront Sephiroth, Reeve sends them a message through Cait Sith’s intermediary: apparently, Hojo has hacked into the computer that controls Midgar’s cannon and is about to give Sephiroth all the Mako energy he needs, even though the overheated cannon will destroy the city.

The colon should be a semicolon.

Location 1415

With the Turk’s help, Cloud manages to defeat Loz and Yazoo, but Kadaj escapes and takes refuge in the Sector 5 church where Aerith used to spend most of her time.

“With the Turk’s help” should be “With the Turks’ help”

Location 1416

A spring suddenly shoots up out of the ground—this is an intervention by both the Planet and Aerith: her spirit has arrived to oppose Jenova and attend to Cloud.

The colon should be a semicolon.

Location 1871

The combat, while turn-based, was extremely dynamic: the camera angles juggled various shots; the magic was portrayed using superb special effects; and the heroes’ limit breaks literally dazzled players by their excessiveness.

It seems the semicolons should be commas in this case, as the final version of this sentence doesn’t seem to have commas within any of the items. (Ed: this one is interesting, I didn’t know this kind of grouping until I read this sentence: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semicolon#Usage)

Word choice/editorializing

Location 183

It was placed under the control of the Turks, a secret militia charged with investigating confidential matters. This militia currently conducts a variety of illegal maneuvers (murders, kidnappings, etc.) and follows orders, handed down directly by the president, without question.

Two points here: militia and illegal maneuvers. Militia isn’t quite the correct term here, though, having not played Dirge or Before Crisis, this may have been the translator’s choice when some of those games were localized. Militia has a strong component of untrained, civilian members that organize in some sort of emergency, which doesn’t describe the Turks well (at least, the FF7 version). A more appropriate term would be “clandestine group,” “secret agency,” or “group of shadowy enforcers” (to be more poetic). Also, in place of “illegal maneuvers” I would suggest something like “clandestine operations.”

EDIT: upon further reflection, I think “paramilitary” is really the better choice to replace “militia.”

Location 974

Barret decides to tell his friends about the events that caused the people of Corel to hate him: Shinra’s arrival, four years earlier; the reactor’s construction; his friend Dayne’s opposition; the notorious explosion; Shinra accusing the people of Corel of harboring a rebel faction, hostile to the company; the troops that were sent; the soldiers who fired at Barret and Dayne; Barret’s severed hand; and his friend’s fall into the ravine.

While I am aware of the technique involving using semicolons to separate what is usually separated by commas when the items themselves contain commas, I would suggest this sentence be broken up into smaller sentences somehow and avoid the repeated use of semicolons in a list like this. It’s rather unusual and awkward in my experience. Regardless it would be an over-long and heavy sentence even if it were rendered with commas.

Location 1039

This hero faced them alone, fighting off hordes upon hordes of enemies. The battle was fierce, and the poisoned arrows thrown by the Gi managed to defeat this courageous fighter who was, literally, petrified.

“poisoned arrows thrown” should be “poisoned arrows fired” (well, technically, loosed, but that’s a somewhat obsolete distinction in modern English, even though “fired” is historically tied to matchlocks/flintlocks and modern guns, not to bows and arrows) I would suggest changing the end of this sentence from “who was, literally, petrified” to “who was turned to stone.” Another suggestion would be to rework the sentence to link the “poisoned” arrows more closely to the petrification so the causal link is formed, as it currently seems the two are unrelated. Part of the problem is the original translation of FF7. They are called “poisoned” arrows when really they should be “charmed” or “enchanted,” as petrification is usually associated with spells or charms (in most fiction that I’m familiar with, anyway), whereas “poisons” are usually biological agents that cause sickness of some kind or death.

Location 1102

Realizing that Barret’s protégée will be in danger if he refuses, Cloud agrees to let Cait Sith continue with them on their adventures.

“protégée” could be “adopted daughter” or, more classically, “ward.” “protégée” in english is more equivalent to “favored student” or “trainee”

Location 1247

The eight Midgar reactors are therefore to be used as fuel for the cannon.

Nitpicky, but with the destruction of the reactor at the start of the game there should only be seven usable reactors as fuel.

Location 1249

The shot fired by Shinra hits its mark and transpierces the Weapon before smashing into the energy barrier protecting the North Crater and Sephiroth.

“transpierces” might be better rendered as “impales” or “goes through”.

Location 1389

After a brief period of optimism associated with beginning anew, despair has begun to redescend on the population of the newly constructed city, which already faced difficulties due to the abandonment of Mako energy.

“despair has begun to redescend” could be better rendered as “despair once again descends.” While valid, “redescend” is not in common use in my experience.

Location 1863

For the father of Final Fantasy, incorporating the seventh art was a logical evolution.

This one is tricky. Regarding “the seventh art”, brief internet research suggests Hegel’s classifications are not particularly well-known in the United States (much as we rarely refer about the news media as The Fourth Estate), but may be better known in Britain and France. I would suggest perhaps a short preamble introducing the various Arts and identifying the seventh art as cinema explicitly. Otherwise, it was not particularly clear to me what “the seventh art” was referring to.