RAI subtitling error
Thread poster: Susanna Garcia

Susanna Garcia  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:55
Italian to English
+ ...
Mar 2, 2009

Anyone else notice on TG1 the other day in the subtitles for Amanda Knox's father (Perugia trial); he said in English he'd see his daughter on Tuesday, subtitles read mercoledi', Wednesday? Really sloppy. Probably trying to save money by using a raccomandato di ferro who once visited London with the school.

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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 09:55
English to Portuguese
+ ...
ONE error? That's nothing! Mar 2, 2009

Susanna,

Considering the prevalence of the low-cost-driven, tight-schedule subtitling companies, that's nothing. The problem with subtitling is that the original soundtrack remains there, so bilingual spectators can check the translator's work.

These companies pay so little that no "raccomandato di ferro" would bother to take such a job. It's usually some wannabe translator who'd do it it for free, just to get some practice, or actually someone who spent a couple of weeks in Orlando (FL, USA) and ever since calls him/herself a "translator". Sometimes it's an experienced, competent professional who was maneuvered into taking this job, and who knows that for so little pay no individual subtitle is worth a second thought... just get it done as quickly as possible, and move on to some more rewarding work.

A subtitling company in Brazil once offered me less than one-fifth of my regular rate, and told me: "Any time you are willing to take that, we'll give you as much work as you can take. Call us any time." Being unable to lower my quality to that level while increasing my speed to make it worthwhile, I declined. As they are apparently still in business, someone else must have taken it.

As I work mostly with corporate video, never for TV, sometimes I get a translation by a "raccomandato di ferro" to spot the subs and author the DVD. After a few such experiences, I made my rates for spotting amateur-translated subtitles high enough for people to seriously consider me (or any other competent professional) translating them.

Once I had a 90-min video, a presentation by a famous management guru, from a large company that everyone in the civilized world knows. It had been translated by some corporate big-shot's mistress, and I was specifically requested not to change one single comma there: just break the text into subs, spot them, and author a DVD. I learned that the girl had been very generously compensated for her strenuous effort, and documentation was provided to reassure auditors that she was the only one in the world that could have done such a wonderful job.

The major flaws were numerous blatant errors, such as "sixty million" being translated as "thirty thousand". Sometimes the presenter would talk fast for a while, and that part was not translated, so I had to let him talk without subs. There were other moments when the translation of what he said used so many unnecessarily long words, that several rather long subs only had time to blink on the screen.

Another similar case was the translation for subtitles by a manager who had a vested interest on the matter. So he added many things the speaker did not say, in order to include his arguments into someone else's presentation.

So translation for subtitling is a wild world, where translation rate-slashing drives poor quality. Of course, there is high-quality subtitling around, but that's not as common as we'd like it to be.


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PaolaF
Italy
Local time: 13:55
English to Italian
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Just to give you an idea... Mar 6, 2009

Hi,

I advise you to take a look at this article (in Italian):

http://www.e-schooloftranslation.org/2009/03/sottotitoli-traduzione-audiovisiva-fansubbing-qualita/



[Edited at 2009-03-07 10:50 GMT]


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