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Ask me anything about subtitling
Thread poster: Max Deryagin

jbjb  Identity Verified
Estonia
Local time: 09:12
Member (2005)
Estonian to English
+ ...
netflix Sep 29, 2016

Netflix is in Russia already (they are in every country of the world) and a lot of the content has Russian subtitles (https://www.netflix.com/browse/subtitle/ru) but I don't think they are officially at 100% localisation yet, as with some other markets (most recently Poland, Turkey).

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whitelighter
United States
duration of Russian subtitles Nov 4, 2016

I'm new to subtitling and need advice as to subtitle duration for a rather lengthy American film which I'm writing Russian subtitles for. It seems a trade-off sometimes between ending the subtitle before the camera cuts away from the speaker, and displaying it long enough to be easily read. I'm guessing that since my subtitles are intended for viewers for whom Russian is their native language, they need less time to read the subtitle, thus the first option is usually best, yet even so - if I have a full 2-line subtitle and the speaker is only shown for 2 seconds, is it ok to carry the subtitle over into the next shot if no further dialogue is spoken? Or is it a judgement call, depending on what's being uttered and on the cinematography?

I hope this question makes sense.


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Max Deryagin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 11:12
Member (2013)
English to Russian
TOPIC STARTER
- Nov 4, 2016

whitelighter wrote:

I'm new to subtitling and need advice as to subtitle duration for a rather lengthy American film which I'm writing Russian subtitles for. It seems a trade-off sometimes between ending the subtitle before the camera cuts away from the speaker, and displaying it long enough to be easily read. I'm guessing that since my subtitles are intended for viewers for whom Russian is their native language, they need less time to read the subtitle, thus the first option is usually best, yet even so - if I have a full 2-line subtitle and the speaker is only shown for 2 seconds, is it ok to carry the subtitle over into the next shot if no further dialogue is spoken? Or is it a judgement call, depending on what's being uttered and on the cinematography?

I hope this question makes sense.


Hi whitelighter,

The question makes perfect sense.

If you're working with a company, you should follow their style guide, but no matter how well-written it is, there will be times when you have to go against it and make a judgement call. For example, many style guides introduce a minimum duration for your subtitles, usually around 1 second or 24 frames, but what if there are two camera cuts (called "shot changes" in the subtitling industry) surrounding an utterance that are only 17 frames apart? Well, you either cross the shot change or go under the minimum duration.

Now, because the viewer's reading comfort is paramount, in your situation you have two choices: try and somehow condense the translation to make it shorter and easier to read (even if it means throwing away some words or introducing an idiom) or cross the shot change. The type of the shot change also matters: if it introduces another setting geographically or chronologically, you usually don't want to cross it, even if no further dialogue is spoken; if it is in the same location, crossing it is not that big of a deal (but make sure your in- and out-times are at least ~7 frames away from it). Sometimes you can re-segment your subtitles so that they bypass the cut, but I'm not sure it's possible in your case. Either way, you have to do something because two seconds for a two-liner is not nearly enough.

Hope this helps.


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Nepali_English
Nepal
Local time: 11:57
English to Nepali
about sound variations in different languages Nov 4, 2016

Hello,

First, thank you for your offer to answer any questions about sub-titling.

I am doing a film subtitling project and I am facing a couple of issues with it.

1. The major one is while translating dialogues that are built on rhyming words. For example in one of the dialogues a character says: One son-in-law is like 'diamond' ('Hira' in Nepali), the other is like caterpillar ('jhusil kira' in Nepali). The dialogue makes sense in Nepali, because Hira and Kira rhymes. But when I translate it in English, it doesn't give the same sense.

In another example, the dialogue is: 'One daughter is like a queen (Rani), the other is like ash (KhaRani)'

I have tweaked the words slightly and translated them as:

For first example:
'One son-in-law is like 'diamond pillar', the other is like caterpillar.'

For second example:
'One daughter is like queen, the other is like mannequin (instead of ash, because the character was saying something worthless by saying 'ash')'

Does that work? Is that ethical ?

How do other fellow translators deal with such situations in sub-titling in other language pairs ?




2. The other issue is also related to sound of certain words. Certain words have two meanings in Nepali and the dialogue is formed around that notion. For example, one of the character's son's name is 'Iman'. The word 'Iman' also means 'integrity' in Nepali. So, when the character says: I have got integrity ('Iman' in Nepali), the other character replies saying: He has not just one, but two 'Imans' . I makes sense in Nepali.

But, when I translate it in English I can't say: He has got two 'integrities'. How do I deal with such situation?

In another example: a character's name is Safal, which means 'successful' in English, and the dialogue he uses is: My name is Safal (successful), so I haven't learnt to become 'A-Safal' (Unsuccessful).

Now, I can't translate it as 'My name is Successful, I haven't learnt to become unsuccessful.'
and if I translate as: 'My name is Safal, I haven't learnt to become unsuccessful', it doesn't make any sense.



I guess such situations also arise in other language pairs. I would be most grateful, if you could share some insights. Thank you.


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Max Deryagin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 11:12
Member (2013)
English to Russian
TOPIC STARTER
- Nov 4, 2016

Hi Nepali_English,

The first two examples fall into the category of rhyming audio-bound wordplays, and I think you dealt with them pretty well. The second question is much more difficult, but it is important to keep in mind that no matter how well you render a film, there will be always something lost in translation, especially if the source and target languages and cultures are so vastly different.

So, what do we have here?

He has not just one, but two 'Imans'.


A wordplay. It is tempting to try and find a perfect solution, but remember that the only word the English-speaking audience will understand is "Imans" (if the plural "Imans" sounds anything similar to the singular "Iman" in Nepali). This means you have the creative room here, the only two requirements being the inclusion of the name and the transfer of the general idea. So your case is basically a regular wordplay translation problem with one additional requirement (plus the time and space limitations of subtitling), and there's plenty of academic literature on that. Like, for example, good old Delabastita: http://www.academia.edu/4406989/Wordplay_as_a_translation_problem_a_linguistic_perspective (go straight to Section 4 if you're short on time)

Now, I don't translate into English because I'm not bilingual, but here's a (rather poor) solution that'll work if everything else fails:

He's Iman but not a sly man.


Hopefully the viewers will pick the rhyme. Although I'm not sure if Iman is pronounced "eye-man" or "ee-man" (or something else).

My name is Safal (successful), so I haven't learnt to become 'A-Safal' (Unsuccessful).


Again, I imagine the Nepali "Safal" and "A-Safal" sound pretty similar to the English ear, so the same approach as in the previous case still holds. Here's another (rather poor) solution:

My name is Safal, and Safals are always successful.


[Edited at 2016-11-04 20:50 GMT]


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jbjb  Identity Verified
Estonia
Local time: 09:12
Member (2005)
Estonian to English
+ ...
another Nov 4, 2016

And another way to translate the impossible to translate word plays in subtitles (unlike in fiction where you probably would have a direct translation and a footnote explaining the double entendre) is to turn the subtitle into a footnote (allowing the viewers to understand the double meaning, even though they cannot enjoy the word play).

So "My name is Safal (successful), so I haven't learnt to become 'A-Safal' (Unsuccessful)."
can be turned into
"(My name) Safal means successful,
so I haven't learned to become a failure."

Or if the success isn't particularly important there, you can do the same as with the first examples
and make it a play on Safal - safe (probably the closest English adjective, ("I am Safal and I won't take it safe at all") or Safal - fall ("My name is Safal and I won't fall" or whatever).

It all depends on whether the important thing in the original dialogue is the word play or the word "successful"/"unsuccessful".


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whitelighter
United States
about sound variations in different languages Nov 5, 2016

Odd, I'm having a similar issue as Nepali_English.

In one scene, a character tells the story of a mother who'd just given birth in the delivery room and is delirious on painkillers, claiming that God had told her to name her child "Naslo King." A nurse points to a sign on the wall that says "No Smoking".

"No Smoking" in Russian is "Neh Kooreet". Instead of finding a Russian phrase that roughly rhymed with that, I spelled out Na - slo - king in the first part of the story, but at the end, translated "No Smoking" into "Neh Kooreet", even though that doesn't rhyme, hoping people'd still get the jist of it.

Any thoughts on this?

[Edited at 2016-11-05 07:50 GMT]

[Edited at 2016-11-05 07:50 GMT]


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Max Deryagin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 11:12
Member (2013)
English to Russian
TOPIC STARTER
- Nov 5, 2016

whitelighter wrote:

Odd, I'm having a similar issue as Nepali_English.

In one scene, a character tells the story of a mother who'd just given birth in the delivery room and is delirious on painkillers, claiming that God had told her to name her child "Naslo King." A nurse points to a sign on the wall that says "No Smoking".

"No Smoking" in Russian is "Neh Kooreet". Instead of finding a Russian phrase that roughly rhymed with that, I spelled out Na - slo - king in the first part of the story, but at the end, translated "No Smoking" into "Neh Kooreet", even though that doesn't rhyme, hoping people'd still get the jist of it.

Any thoughts on this?


No, I don't think people will get the gist of it.

There's a number of ways to translate "No Smoking" into Russian, "Не курить" being one of them. If the name "Naslo King" is not used anywhere else in the film or if it's not central to it, you can play with the name itself rather than the sign translation. I would go with "Некури́н" or something similar, adding the stress mark if the encoding allows, to preserve and highlight the matching pronunciation for the viewer's convenience.


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EL_isa
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:12
English to Italian
+ ...
Subtitling Guidelines into Italian Nov 9, 2016

Max Deryagin wrote:

Hello fellow ProZians,

In this topic I (and hopefully my colleagues that frequent this subforum) will try to answer all your questions about subtitling that you always wanted to ask but thought it didn't warrant a whole new topic.

Ask away!


Dear Max and All,

Many Thanks for your offer to help. Here a question for you.
I'd like to know if there are some official/reliable guidelines for subtitling into Italian from another language (mainly English, but the Source Language should not really matter). I am not talking about SDH subtitling.

I have browsed a lot on the Internet, posed the same question to the website of professional organisations (e.g. AITI and Proz.com too, in Italian), but did not get any reply....
Wondering if such guidelines vary according to the TV channel or cinema companies with whom the subtitling company work....
I know that in Italy subtitling for TV is not very popular as everything is dubbed, but for DVD films things are different....

Thanks for your help.
Elisa


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Max Deryagin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 11:12
Member (2013)
English to Russian
TOPIC STARTER
- Nov 9, 2016

Hi Elisa,

I don't think you'll be able to find such guidelines on the web for free. The best I can offer is Netflix Italian TTSG: https://backlothelp.netflix.com/hc/en-us/articles/215349898-Italian-Timed-Text-Style-Guide

That said, I'm pretty sure most guidelines that apply to the other European languages also apply to Italian, which means you can get Jorge's book and learn the ropes that way: https://www.waterstones.com/book/audiovisual-translation/jorge-diaz-cintas/jorge-dias-cintas/9781900650953


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Ravindran Arunachalam
India
Local time: 11:42
English to Tamil
+ ...
I wish to know the suitable software Nov 19, 2016

I am going to write a test for subtitling in ttml format
I wish to know which is best for supporting Unicode font. for Indian languages


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Max Deryagin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 11:12
Member (2013)
English to Russian
TOPIC STARTER
- Nov 19, 2016

Ravindran Arunachalam wrote:

I am going to write a test for subtitling in ttml format
I wish to know which is best for supporting Unicode font. for Indian languages


Hi Ravindran,

You can create subtitles in any subtitling tool supporting Unicode (pretty much any modern tool in existence, e.g. Subtitle Edit, Subtitle Workshop XE etc.) and then convert your subtitles to TTML using an online converter such as this one, for example: http://subtitleconverter.net/welcome.jsp


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Joao Abreu
Local time: 07:12
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Where to find freelance subtitling work. Nov 20, 2016

Hi,
Thanks for all the information!
Are there any sites where can I find freelance subtitling/translation (EN-PT) work?


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Max Deryagin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 11:12
Member (2013)
English to Russian
TOPIC STARTER
- Nov 21, 2016

Joao Abreu wrote:

Hi,
Thanks for all the information!
Are there any sites where can I find freelance subtitling/translation (EN-PT) work?


Hi Joao,

Your question has already been answered in the thread. Please read through it.


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Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:12
English to German
+ ...
Posing another question Nov 21, 2016

Ana Carla Guimarães wrote:

Hi,
I have a question about subtitling rates in the USA. Does anyone know how much translators get paid in US dollars? I mean, a junior translator rate to a senior one.
Thanks
Ana Carla


Hello Ana,

The question about subtitling rates is asked often and has been asked often in the forums, and many times people point to the fact that there isn't much money to be made in this field, be it for junior or senior translators. It is unfortunate that people will accept certain opinions or experiences that colleagues had when these colleagues simply seem to accept very low compensation for their hard work, for work, in the case of subtitling, that often involves much more time than translating itself.

I suggest to pose a different question. No matter what type of language service you provide, how much is it that you need to make to pursue this a a professional, rewarding career, keeping in mind that typically, we are not always busy, that we are not always bombarded by customers/clients, at least not by good clients but that we should always try to work with good customers if at all, because working a lot for a short period of time and for very little money isn't going to get you anywhere.

In other words, can you imagine working on a subtitling project that pays very little but is relatively large, takes up lots of your time, and might not be followed right away by payment or another job, and that within a few months, relying simply on cheap jobs, will be a very unrewarding time and experience.

Many also suggest that some jobs pay more and some jobs pay not as much, but to them I would suggest that one needs to apply a professional rate/price every time, even if it is less than what one should really expect, but which is still relatively fair and helps grow your career, not destroy it.


So, how much should you charge then, no matter where you live? Get all the info you need to be able to calculate how much time and knowledge you will have to invest, what type of software you are going to use/have to use etc. and calculate a rate/price that is in line with the income you need to earn based on the number of "decent" projects you can expect over the next few months. If you cannot foresee any of this, then still charge a decent rate (use a theoretical projection of your work) but be open to other sources of income. Getting exploited and work like crazy is no way to pursue this as a career. You will run into all kinds of problems. It s always best to wait for a decent job that allows you the required time to provide quality work. Only that way can you increase your professional portfolio and secure good projects in the future.

And just because someone says this is what you can expect to be paid followed by a ridiculous rate is the worst advice one get give.

Just my thoughts.


I am curious about your experience since the time you posed this question and received answers in this thread back in 2015.

Here's are a few other thoughts I had on a similar question:
http://www.proz.com/forum/subtitling/308947-subtitling_rates.html#2606030


[Edited at 2016-11-21 19:02 GMT]


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