How Wargaming Translating Works

Please note that all the quotes in this post have been modified by me to make the identification of the source impossible. The meaning is kept.

Hello everyone,

recently, one of the official Wargaming translators wrote me an interesting mail about the way Wargaming translation works and where do the various stronk translatink cases come from. Needless to say, I was surprised and pleased, that someone decided to talk about it openly, but also a bit suspicious. He predicted my suspicions however and provided a proof that is impeccable (some of it I cannot publish, some of it you will see in the future posts).

Here is an excerpt of the quite long e-mail I recieved from this person. It’s rather interesting. For starters, most translators apparently work from home, with their capabilities being examined via a test, that comes directly from Minsk. Apparently, some of the notorious translation fails appear as such (quoting from the mail):

Perhaps I should clarify you a bit of these fails I’ve been seeing, it’s usually because the text files come directly from Minsk and it takes up to 7 translators and proofreaders to verify, the problem lies that not all translators agree on the kind of words to use and the result can be a PR nightmare to solve, which requires several proofreadings – in time, people slip up as you have seen in the portals, or sometimes the webmasters screw up.

Sometimes, according to the translator, things also get “interesting” when stuff that gets sent from Minsk has issues. A typical example would be the T2 Light Tank, which is a full name of the vehicle, so what in Russian sounds perfectly fine (“T2 Light Tank легкий танк второго уровня”) gets translated into something retarded (“T2 Light Tank light tank”) because the “T2 Light Tank” is a full name of the vehicle and the contracts the translators have binds them to use it in each case.

They also cannot change it, because, in his words (and this part is my favourite):

So you might ask, what are we doing about it? Well, this is the funny part, if we don’t follow that, our paycheck suffers, yeah, each time a “stronk translatink” its detected by the staff, WG EU takes a toll on the translator wallets (usually up to 10-20% of their paychecks), same applies for all servers – and even the actual staff takes the hit, thus you can see why some of the guys at EU office dont like you

Interesting, interesting…

Anyway, one really smart thing Wargaming did is separate the translations not by languages, but by regions, because for example Latin America Spanish is different than Spain Spanish (sort of like dialects). Apparently, most of the Spanish for World of Tanks comes from Argentina. For EU, it works as such (again, quoting the translator):

Let’s say there are 2 situations:

Developer in Minsk says, “hey, let’s make a premium tank, it’s a stronk tank and costs 40 macaroonis”, this idea is put on paper by the SOO guys and they send the text files in Russian to EU/NA/ASIA/ETC clusters (China handled differently and I don’t know hows that work at the moment)

From there, the text arrives to staff, who’s in charge of:

1) sending this file to be translated from Russian into a target language
2) collecting the translation from translator
3) assembling a translation bundle
4) sending it over to the staff to be approved
5) publishing

That’s the ideal way to do it, however – only rarely this happens as of now, the situation 2) is the most common:

1) a cluster (EU) comes up with an idea “lets make stronk bundle translatink, costs 500 camoolas and has 1% discount :DDD” and informs Minsk about it
1.5) Minsk agrees and lets the guys handle it as long as “X” amount of profit is met per bundle
2) the staff puts down the idea of the bundle to be translated on paper (this is where the problem starts)
3) the bundle is written, let’s say.. in French, and they send the text to French-to-English translators
4) once translated from French, the English translators now translate the same text from german, likewise, from German to Polish, and Polish to Spanish, using the same translated text over and over.
5) the result is that whatever mistake comes from a single translator, passes onto the next one
6) the problem cascades but since “it was handled to translators”, it must be right and approved, the worst comes when talking about ranks, medals and rewards
7) it gets published as stronk translatink, only later to be corrected
8) proofreaders (who are also the translators), have to do it over but this time from direct English as source, hopefully

but that’s not all:

In case the source comes as English, there are several translators, lets say, English to German and the tasks are being split, each translator uses a different way to express words and sentences, the result ends as “stronk tekst” again, only a really capable proofreader can make out the mess it ends with, when the target texts comes from 5 or more translators.

The translators do get paid (on word basis), but they also get free WG stuff (T-shirts) and alpha game access and also recieve chain WG e-mail conversations so that’s interesting too. The translator also notes that while both NA office and RU office are nice to work with and polite (“Minsk staff speaks English and it is very pleasant to work with them”), working with EU is a problem (“they make me cringe”). I will close this post with one more interesting sentence he wrote:

“Interestingly a guy on the EU staff was “scolded” for posting information on your blog and I think they are blocking you from certain purchases in store to prevent “spreading” (spreading what?)”


Well, that’s it. Yes, there was much more in the e-mail, but we can’t spoil everything just yet, can we now… :)

87 thoughts on “How Wargaming Translating Works

  1. Oh? Now this is juicy :)

    I smell a shitstorm incoming :D So we have 50% confirmation WG EU are pissed of about you and are trying to block your purchases? Hmm, I wonder what you left out :D :D And I wonder what WG RU would have to say about WG EU and yours relationship :P

  2. WGEU gets mad about pay cuts due to epic fail translation?

    How terrible.

    Working as intended.

  3. Even the translators hate those EU bastards. Those faggots in Paris office are pathetic. I bet they suck eachother dicks too when taking breaks. How WG hired those morons?

    • I think its time for WG RU to maybe think about cleaning out some of the shitty employees.

    • I’m glad those fuckheads are universally hated…what goes around comes around faggots…

  4. Why do they have anything against YOU?
    Everyone sees the translation mistakes, you are just the guy who makes them even more public. I mean, its not like the mistakes are hidden somewhere, they are right on the front side of the official portal!

      • Well, first the mistake must be spotted and second reported for anything to happen. If no one has reported it they might be able to backedit silently without their paycheck beeing affected. Once the fault has been posted here there is no way of sweeping it under the rug.

  5. lol , really funny stuff

    if i may guess now WG (Minsk) kick all NA translators for “leak” from EU office , like they kick all EU testers after massive leak from (RU) supertest – mostly published at russian webpages

  6. That is what I expected, real life of saying – “Lost in translation”.
    There will always be such cases when a person who has no idea, what is he translating will try to translate specific terms and stuff.
    If only they could change the final part with proofreading, that someone, who plays the game and understands inside terms would read it through for logical mistakes, there wouldn’t be new terms and nonexistant tanks mentioned in EU articles.

    • Proofreading by a player? PLEASE NO! I start to puke every time i hear a semi-english, yet tronslated sentence from a player. Just imagine this situation: “Wieso kannst du PEN die SUSPENTION den SIDESCRAPING TIE THIRTY FOUR HEAVY Panzerwagens mit dein BAT-SHIT MEDIUM Panzerwagen?” Very good translation isn’t it?

      • Jes, very gut Überlation
        I didn’t even understand what this text is about but I don’t think that I am supposed to do so…

      • I didn’t ment by a outside random player, but someone inside the company, who actually plays the game, aka knows, which tanks are there, what modules can you mount on them and what achievments can you get.

        • It’d make a great soap opera. Hell, I might even consider watching it myself!

      • You can’t penetrate the suspension while sidescraping a T34 with your your Bat-chat. Got it. ;)

        • I wanted to write “how can you pen a sidescraping t34 with your B-C?” but yeah… My german is rusty :D

  7. You know, I am more interested in the drama on FTR than WoT itself these days. Drama + interesting historical posts + GER >> World of Tomatoes.

  8. I said it before and people jumped at me, especially the translators
    stop with the localization bullshit! leave everything in a single international (gaming) language – English!
    no, spanish, no french, no german, no polish, no slovak, romanian and whatnot – one single fucking language, you do not want to learn english, you don’t play
    this already segregates communities because of the localization bullshit – cut the crap, stop this!

    I see a lot of people translating (wrongly) technical terms, like for example mouse – souris
    the mouse (computer peripheral) is not(!) a french invention, why is it called souris ?!

    imagine if in computer programming everyone would use localized code – it would be the loony bin

    • Why not put out every game not in english but in… LATIN? You know… the language with the “-us” endings… “you do not want to learn latin, you don’t play”
      Thus you won’t favor just one part of the community. You won’t favor any part. :D

      (BTW i’m hungarian and localisation is a must here where almost nobody can understand a simple sentence in english.)
      (BTW localisation = more money from the market)

      • latin?! since when?! name a single game that has been launched in latin .. you can’t, can you
        english is the recognized gaming language

        as for anyone who does not understand english, it’s not because they can’t, it’s because they can’t be bothered / don’t want to

        I’m a romanian, do you remember the XZ Spectrum / Commodore 64 days? how many of those games were localized? NONE! did people stopped playing them? NO!
        I learned english, later I learned programming starting with BASIC – not because it was easy, because I wanted to and it was hard

        • “do you remember the XZ Spectrum / Commodore 64 days?”
          Do you remember how many used “walls of texts as narrative” back then? (hint: 99% didn’t have any “words” as narrative or instruction [Pacman, Pong, etc])
          Oh and get this… Today almost 70% of games come out in JAPAN first (or only)… so this would mean that JAPANESE language must be the gaming language!

          And why must i learn english to play a single game and why must not learn an english-speaker another language to do the same? What makes him/her different?

          And if you didn’t get what i mean (i’m sure you don’t) because NOBODY speaks latin thus NO BIAS to any population.

          • “And why must i learn english to play a single game and why must not learn an english-speaker another language to do the same? What makes him/her different?”
            Because English is more common than other native languages. Simple as that. It’s more important than polish, french, spanish or others.

            • You know spanish is the most common language by nation-count?
              And chinese is the most “speaked” one?

                • Spanish is also used on every continent.
                  But since we traveled to “statistically confirmed theory” territory then let’s agree on things shall we?
                  1., Most spoken languages (altogether) are Indo-Europian ones. Switching from one to another is relatively easy.
                  2., “Gaming” needs a widely used language to be able to “knock down the nationality walls”.
                  3., “Gamers” tend to learn a language in order to enjoy playing X games.
                  4., Grammarnazis are evil.
                  So… Latin is an Indo-Europian language. Almost no “gamers” know it thus everybody would have to learn it (and they would do it because otherwise they wouldn’t be able to play games) thus everybody would use ONE language and because everybody would LEARN it thus no grammarnazis would be there!

                  I have no more questions. The witness is yours.

          • “And why must i learn english to play a single game”

            oh, I’m sorry .. did you mean EVERY fucking internationally released GAME?! yes they were quite a few games released only in Japan because, get this, they were designed for Japanese market, not international market – funny, isn’t it

            you do not have to learn english, it’s your (everyone’s) choice; if that choice means you won’t play X game …

            • “yes they were quite a few games released only in Japan because, get this, they were designed for Japanese market,”
              Like… hmmm… Metal Gear, Zelda, Pokemon, DDR, Guitar Hero, and the list can go on… they were designed to japanese market ONLY yet they were released worldwide.

              “you do not have to learn english, it’s your (everyone’s) choice; if that choice means you won’t play X game …”

              You don’t have to learn latin, if that choice means you won’t play X games.

                • Tabula, Tali, Tesserae, Latrunculi.
                  Just to name a few.
                  BTW “no mention of PC games released in latin?” question is worthless since no programmer wanted to release a game purely in latin. Maybe because they don’t speak it or because they don’t want to experiment with the idea.

                  And to be honest: Why shouldn’t we release games that are not “conventional” ones?
                  And why are you against my idea? Did the romans hurt you?

      • I’m affraid that Skariken is right. In Poland English is teached in almost all schools. Results? Most of the younger players don’t speak English, tbh, don’t speak properly in polish too. So if they want to make a money here localization is a must.

    • It might be somewhat controversial, but I agree. WoT already has problems with tomatoes who don’t work as a team. And how can they when more than half don’t understand English? In an online community from so many different countries there needs to be some common ground, that is to speak English.

      • English is the most spoken language on the whole globe, not Spainish, despite the number of Countries speaking Spainish. Part of the reason for this, is that English is taught in China as a second language, and the popluation of China is so large. So zMeul is correct and Skarakien is mistaken. Cf;

        To the hypothetical question posed by zMeul “name a single game that has been launched in latin”
        I give you the humourous answer, namely – the Colosseum (the Flavien Amphitheatre, Rome)

      • Why not russian as a common ground? The game’s publishers speak it and the majority of players speak it so it’s logical to be the only language supported.

          • So why localize to EU (a.k.a. translate it into english) in the first place? And majority of players are in RU also.

              • Then why are you against localization for the dutch/czech/french/german/etc version?

                • I am only against it if it disrupts the English localization? If WG wouldn’t be so incompetent and the translations would work as they’re supposed to, I’d have nothing against it.

                • Wait Otto… so you say that you are not against the localization to other languages as long they get the english one “right&tight”? :S
                  What if they do a neat french translation (heck WG EU is located there!) with a pisspoor english one?

        • If the game had to be played in Russian only, then the republicans in the USA would point to it as evidence of Obama’s master plan to indoctrinate the youth of America.

          Seriously though, translating the game into other languages is something we do to make it a friendlier experience for the user. However, it’s true that trying to coordinate 15 random players using multiple languages is an impossible task; heck, it’s hard even on the NA server which is 99% English (oddly enough, the second most common language I see is Tagalog). The standard Help, Loading, Attack and Defend the Base buttons help, but it would be nice if there were a more comprehensive way to convey complex info.

      • and because they dont know or speak english, they suck at the game?
        how many battles have you played where instructions were written in the chat?
        1-2%, maybe?
        the majority of players use the chat to offend, to say hello or simply to rage against oter players.
        What is the the problem here?
        Nobody uses the chat to communicate with each other about tactics.


        • Exactly, that’s just one problem with the game. Everybody speaking English would not solve that, but at least everybody would understand what someone is saying, even if just 1-2% would actually listen.

          • I can only say “Siema” to you then… and you will know what i want to do. :)

          • I might be from NA server so I don’t know the problem, but wouldn’t forcing English onto non-English speakers (aforementioned Hungarians for instance) cause a net loss because people give up and stop playing the game – or just continue on, regardless of what language the interface is in?

            That, and it might hinder the ability to advertise the game in non-English speaking countries. From a business standpoint, making a game in “English only” without translating the interface and putting in subtitles if needed costs you the sales of people who prefer to game in their own language. If you’re not willing to bend for them, for instance, why on earth should they bend for you?

  9. In spanish there are two versions, one on the EU server which is “Spanish from Spain”. in the NA server the Spanish is from Argentina.
    I really couldn´t believe when in the NA server I listened the voices and it was clearly a Spanish guy talking “in argentinean”
    If I recall they modified that the last time I played on the NA server, and now sounds like a true Argentinean.

  10. Gentlemen, keep in mind that this article is not about client translations (at least not about the ‘unofficial’ translations). They work differently.

  11. I’ve worked on translation projects for a few years (English, German, Dutch) as both the guy translating as well as the one checking other people’s translations. This system as described above sounds impossible to work with, inefficient and bad for everyone involved. The only real way to do it is from source language to target language, not with several languages in between (yeah, I’m really telling something new here… :P). There need to be checks, sure, because everyone can make mistakes, but you can do it with 2 translators per language. One serving as the translator, the other as the translation checker, the roles can switch randomly, they don’t even have to know each other’s identity. It’s efficient, low cost due to few people involved and helps reduce mistakes to a minimum.

    • I agree with you.

      that’s the way the “other” translators work (the localization ones)

      they all translate from english

  12. Sad thing is, even WoT Chinese version has numerous “stronk translatink”. The best we can do is to use 3rd party locale or modify the .mo files on our own.

  13. “Designed by committee” = Fucked up by everyone…

    Terrible way to translate text, there should be 1 translator, then 1 proofer, and the proofer talks directly to the original text writer to clarify any grey areas and make sure the “tone” is right.

  14. Wow that sounds like the game “telephone” that I use to play as a kid in school. All the kids would sit in a circle and the teacher would whisper a message the first kids ear, who would in turn whisper it to the second kid in line and so on until the last kid calls out what he heard and it would be a convoluted bastardization of the original message.
    But really WG, why u no translate to English/German/French, double/triple check that translation, then give it to every other translator. I’m sure it’s no easy task to find a Spanish/Russian translator, but English/German/French translators are becoming a dime a dozen and any language where you can’t find and English translator is probably part of some small tribe that lack internet anyway.

  15. and thats why is worthless reading the eu portal in other language than english.

    • Generally you are correct, but I remember at least two instances in the past where initially it was the Polish version of the event description that was correct, not the English one.

  16. Lol, that made my day. In normal world there is only one master and you make all copies from it – not copy from copy from copy… WG logic.

    BTW, SS start hunting ingame mistranslations, there are some and never fixed. Example: in Polish Coated Optics is translated as “covered” – yea, because you see further if you cover your optics… Is it the same in Czech?

    • Well, coated can be covered as in “I put a coat of paint in the wall” => “I covered the wall with paint”

      • Don’t try to make them look good. Retranslating this error back to English is enough for anyone with two brain cells to understand what’s wrong.
        Translations aren’t so straight, one word directly into another in all cases, otherwise everyone would have already used google translate since ages…

    • My favourite in Polish version always was “Reaper” translated as “Ripper” (well, I guess we’re lucky it wasn’t “Raper”).

  17. WG, imo, should only support three languages:
    1. Russian
    2. Chinese
    3. English

    Google translator does a good job these days. Otherwise you end up having the mess we have in EU where every single speech and doc has to be translated to 30 different languages, which is a pain, expensive and a source of pain.

    And ftr, I am Spanish.

    • It doesn’t. Google translate is good when translating TO English, NOT FROM English. And even then only for technical purposes, not official presentation on site…

    I’m from Serbia nd there are many mistakes on my language and I reported them all to the cDa(moderator from Serbia), one he wasn’t in game and I reported it to BigBadVuk(also moderator from Serbia), and I told him what was the problem.

    He responded by “What do you care”
    Then I told him
    I care because you don’t do your job as you should and you get paid for something Google translate do for you.
    Of course I got chat-banned on 3 days and I reported it to WG support, they told me problem will be solved thank you, there are still many mistakes(which I am going to collect just to reduce his wage). Later, maybe one veak from that incident third moderator from serbia(Petrizzi) told me that players maybe don’t know how they get there but WG HQ know, then we(other players and I) all agreed that WG HQ must be blind for doing that.

  19. So the conclusion of the mail is: WG is not capable to manage more or less complex business use cases – what a suprise :)