Off topic: Howlers in translating subtitles cost movie bosses dear
Thread poster: Anil Gidwani

Anil Gidwani  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 17:04
German to English
+ ...
Mar 20, 2007

The translation of high grossing Hollywood movies is being allotted to inexperienced translators in a bid to lower costs, but this is ending up costing movies bosses dear in terms of lost revenue.

Some examples:

Film: My Super Ex-Girlfriend
Line: We have a zero-tolerance policy for sexual harrassment
Translated as: We hold the highest standards for sexual harassment

Film: Seabiscuit
Line: It was a ball to shoot
Translated as: It was like filming a dance scene

Film: Unknown
Line: Jim is a Vietnam vet
Translated as: Jim is veterinarian from Vietnam

About time people start realizing that bad translations are ...

far more expensive than good translations!


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 06:34
English to French
+ ...
This is not our fight Mar 20, 2007

The problem is that translators have been complaining about such issues for so long that nobody listens anymore. Although this problem can make a difference in our pockets at the end of the day (often a difference in our schedules also, when we have to spend too much time correcting these bad translations), those who have authority in this matter are the end clients.

People who watch the movies should complain to the movie companies. When those companies realize the problem, they will switch to service providers whose work may cost them more money, but will deliver a quality product. In the end, it is the end user who will make a difference. All we translators can do about it is to raise awareness with the general public.

To me, the biggest problem in this is not the money but rather how this situation discredits our profession. So-called translators deliver bad work - and how can I prove after that to a movie company that my work will be better? I am only a translator, which to them means I am just another person who will mangle their movie scripts. That is what I have trouble with...


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Percy Balemans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 12:34
English to Dutch
+ ...
Filmmakers seem to realise Mar 20, 2007

According to this article, filmmakers are beginning to realise how important good subtitles are. So there is still hope...

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lexical  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:34
Portuguese to English
Let's not forget to praise... Mar 20, 2007

... the subtitlers who get it right.

A couple of years ago I saw "Billy Elliott" (the film about the miner's son from the north of England who wanted to be a ballet dancer) with Spanish subtitles. The County Durham accent is difficult to understand at the best of times, even for other English listeners, but I was deeply impressed that the subtitler understood and was able to accurately render the typical local expression "Ha'way lads" (Come on) into colloquial Spanish (¡Date prisa!). There aren't many people outside the NE of England who understand what it means, so hats off to that subtitler!


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sarahjeanne
Brazil
Local time: 09:34
Portuguese to English
+ ...
along those lines Mar 20, 2007

Once my friend sent me a link to a movie theater in Bahia that was showing "Miami Vai-se" - which is the phonetic spelling of Miami Vice in Portuguese, but which means that Miami goes, or something to that effect.

I don't know if you can always blame the translator either; as in the instance above a lot of people can tamper with the original translation before the end product ends up in the cinema.

Anyways, no matter how bad the movie subtitling is I guarantee that, in Brazil at least, the subtitles on TV are always worse.


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Anil Gidwani  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 17:04
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Money is important Mar 21, 2007

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:


To me, the biggest problem in this is not the money but rather how this situation discredits our profession.


The bottom line in providing translations, excluding possibly literary translations, is money, is it not? Whether it is helping companies make more money through global collaboration, helping government increase foreign investments in their respective countries, helping medical organizations reduce costs by piggybacking on medical knowledge available in another language, we're out there to help make money and reduce costs.

Doesn't that qualify us to be as well paid as an....

...investment banker?


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absciarretta  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 11:34
Member (2008)
English to Norwegian
+ ...
One of my favorites... Mar 21, 2007

Original: Did he leave an address?
Translated: Did he leave in a dress?

But most of the time the subtitling is spot on here.


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 06:34
English to French
+ ...
Reply to Anil Mar 22, 2007

You are not entirely wrong, but what difference does it make to charge a good, healthy rate when nobody is willing to give you work? As long as clients recognize that I am competent, I will always have the power to negotiate my contracts. But after negative experiences with so-called translators/subtitlers, as posted somwhere on ProZ, filmmakers end up not trusting anyone who says they translate - and they do the work themselves instead. How does that contribute to my financial well-being?

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Atacama
Australia
Local time: 19:34
English
+ ...
Another favourite Mar 23, 2007

A guy is in a telephone booth and another impatiently asks, "How long are you gonna be in here?"
Subtitle Translation: Quiero una cerveza (I want a beer)


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