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  • Stefanos Karampalis

What is Scanlation?

When I attended the English to Greek comic translation program offered by meta|φραση translator training school, people asked me "So, now you can translate comics too?", and the answer was (and still is) "It depends on the subject of the comic book". A comic translation is not an easy task. In fact it's so hard, yet it could be so fun.


In this post I would like to talk about the meaning of scanlation, since it was often expensive to import manga directly from Japan, and reading the originals required language knowledge. That's where the term "Scanlation" came in place. The lack of translated manga outside of Japan led to the development of scanlations. Manga fans cooperated and shared translation efforts. Scanlation began as individual attempts by fans connected via telephone modems and postal mail in the past. Let's know more about what scanlation is and how it works.


What is Scanlation?

This is the process of scanning and translating comics from foreign languages into the translator (particularly Japanese manga and Korean manhwa). In one word, the translation process of a graphic novel is known as scanlation.


The term "scanlation" is a mix of the words scan and translation. However, it is mostly associated with Japanese comic books (manga). In the past, mainly fans used to translate these comics into their own language. Scanning is an amateurish undertaking that almost always occurs without the owner's express permission. Fortunately, today the world is different. According to scanlators, they scanlate to promote the series or author in their own language. Thus enabling the audience to access the contents more easily.


How does Scanlation works?

Scanlations were the only way for many fans to obtain comics or books that were not licensed for publication in their region. But translating anything without the permission of the author is always illegal activity. Some groups release scanlations of comics which are already available commercially, and those release comics which are unreleased outside of their country of origin. A lack of commercial release or apparent censorship may be blamed for illegal scalation. Most scanlators, however, continue to work but encourage people to buy the official version once it is released.


But nowadays, any person from anywhere can easily translate any book or comic with the help of modern technology and the internet. To translate any comics or graphic Nobel, you must first obtain it. A raw provider can easily get access to raw materials and pass them on to the rest of the group in decent quality. Then with the help of a graphic design, you can filter out the text and translate it.


The job Quality Checker appears only in certain scanlation groups. Editors (Cleaner and Typesetter) and Proofreaders should find and correct any mistakes or spelling mistakes. It can also be described as the role of an editor. Then the team can rebuild it once more with the new text.


Final Words

People in a country can easily access graphic novels or comics that are not available in their own language through scanlation. Historically, scanlation has been done as amateur work, often without asking the copyright holder's permission. But now, the scenario is quite different. Although it is mostly associated with Japanese manga, it has also been applied to other national traditions on a smaller scale.


As far as the English to Greek scanlation is concerned, I would be happy to take on a translation project like this since I am trained in English to Greek comics translation.

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