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Subtitling silent movies
Thread poster: Heinrich Pesch

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:13
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Jan 16, 2008

Well, yesterday I say two silent movies. They were new copies from the early production of German actor and Director Ernst Lubitsch, who became later a famous Hollywood celebrity.
You know, silent movies have text frames between the scenes, where the dialogue is written, mostly witty one-liners.
So the subtitler did not have to guess, what was spoken on scene, but the text was there. He/She "only" had to create a fitting expression in the target language.

But that clearly showed the problem with subtitling. The subtitler did an excellent job most of the time, showing excellent mastership of the target language. But he definitely got wrong the meaning of some of the texts. He should have the assistance of a native German translator in order to avoid these misinterpretations.

Probably these movies will circulate for years and be shown on television any time soon. So much effort spent on the technical side, when restoring these old movies, but the subtitling was done too hastily.

I take the opportunity to recommend these old German silent movies by Ernst Lubitsch. They were quite unknown to me, but proved to be extremely funny and carefully produced. Don't miss them out!


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ivo abdman
Local time: 13:13
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Agree Jan 16, 2008

Always involve the native for both source and target languages for perfect job. But there are no perfect man, we could only minimazing the error, e.g. back translation test, and build the standard test after editing.

The tranlastion will never complete with sustained argue. Every one has different perception about right or wrong.

My 2 cent

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