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Subtitles versus what is being said
Thread poster: Swaiyam

Swaiyam  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:33
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Jan 12

Hallo, please forgive me if this question's already been answered. I have looked through the forum and http://www.lamensdorf.com.br/subtitling.htm but can't seem to find the answer to my question.


I've been given a short subtitling project to be proofread. I have the transcription of the video and the translation. In some places the phrases in the translation have been reversed so that the translation reads better according to the translator. But this means that the translated subtitles don't match what is being said:





Frame 1
Voice (German): Unter der Autoimmunerkrankung leidet nicht nur die Haut
Subtitle: Not just the skin but also the psyche

Frame 2
Voice (German): sondern vor allem auch die Psyche.
Subtitle: suffers under this autoimmune disease




My question: does the translated subtitle have to match what is being said?









[Edited at 2018-01-12 21:03 GMT]

[Edited at 2018-01-12 21:07 GMT]

[Edited at 2018-01-12 21:10 GMT]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 18:33
English to Portuguese
+ ...
It's in my article you mentioned Jan 12

The strength in translating for subtitles lies on conciseness. The translator must preserve - as much as possible - the gist of what is said in the original script, while seeking for the most trimmed-down text, so spectators will have more time left to watch the action onscreen after having read each subtitle.

For example:
Original in Portuguese (spoken): É minha profundamente arraigada opinião que...
Full translation: It is my deeply rooted opinion that...
Ideal subtitle (written): I really think that...


Merely compare the lengths above. I mean, subtitles, the shorter, the better.

In spite of my (Polish) surname, I don't speak any German (nor Polish).

This is Google's translation of the original audio above:
Es ist meine tief verwurzelte Meinung, dass ...

... to which (I guess that) a good subtitle in EN would be:
I really think that...


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Swaiyam  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:33
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Jan 12

..

[Edited at 2018-01-12 21:17 GMT]


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Swaiyam  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:33
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you for replying Jan 12

I've edited my post - is it clearer now?

I basically wanted to know if translated subtitles are supposed to reflect what is being spoken


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Joakim Braun  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 23:33
German to Swedish
+ ...
Two cents Jan 12

If you're subtitling for an audience which is likely to have a fair understanding of the source language, the translation is less obtrusive if it follows the approximate structure of the source language, even if there's a more idiomatic phrasing available in the target language.

This would be the case if subtitling from English to some European language, or from Danish to Swedish.

The point is to not distract the viewer.

(Also in your example there are universal, Latin-based phrases such as "autoimmun" and "Psyche" which trigger cognition with most Western viewers. If those words occur in some form in the translation, but in reversed order, that's also distracting.)

[Bearbeitet am 2018-01-12 22:42 GMT]


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Juan Jacob  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 16:33
French to Spanish
+ ...
Well... Jan 13

Swaiyam wrote:
I basically wanted to know if translated subtitles are supposed to reflect what is being spoken


...yes, of course! What else?
They are not "supposed" to, they have to.
And that's a vital issue in subtitling art: you can't (always) write everything is said because of lack of time reading. So, you have to resume, maintaining the central meaning.
No "You know?", no onomatopeia, no repetitions, no redundancies, etc.
Good luck.

[Editado a las 2018-01-13 05:03 GMT]


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Jan Truper
Germany
Local time: 23:33
Member (2016)
English to German
+ ...
match the audio as much as possible Jan 13

Swaiyam wrote:


Frame 1
Voice (German): Unter der Autoimmunerkrankung leidet nicht nur die Haut
Subtitle: Not just the skin but also the psyche

Frame 2
Voice (German): sondern vor allem auch die Psyche.
Subtitle: suffers under this autoimmune disease


My question: does the translated subtitle have to match what is being said?



The translated subtitle should match the audio as much as possible.
Due to different sentence structuring in different languages, this is not always feasible. But in your example, you could do something like this:

This autoimmune disease impairs not only the skin,
but especially the psyche.

[Edited at 2018-01-13 08:21 GMT]


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Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 16:33
German to English
+ ...
looking at it Jan 13

......

Frame 1
Voice (German): Unter der Autoimmunerkrankung leidet nicht nur die Haut
Subtitle: Not just the skin but also the psyche

Frame 2
Voice (German): sondern vor allem auch die Psyche.
Subtitle: suffers under this autoimmune disease



[Edited at 2018-01-12 21:03 GMT]

[Edited at 2018-01-12 21:07 GMT]

[Edited at 2018-01-12 21:10 GMT]


Supposing that you had words like this: "In this forest you will find beautiful plants // and exotic animals" - frame 1 showing plants, and frame 2 showing animals. In that case, if the voice talked about animals while the viewer is seeing plants, then it wouldn't work. But your sentence has a broad general idea.

That said, the translation itself sounds a bit iffy: In English, do things "suffer under" a disease? It might benefit from rewording.


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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:33
French to English
Subtitling Jan 14

I've not done a great deal of subtitling, but I have done some. Also, like all of us, we have seen films where subtitling does not match very well.

Yes, of course it has to match what is being said, but concessions have to be made. It has to match in two very important ways:
- the meaning
- and what is actually happening on screen.

If a concession is to be made to make it more natural in the subtitled version, then so be it. However, if that means switching what is being said between two different frames, it can become problematic. The body language and facial expressions may be out of synch with what is being said and it may not make sense. If the social communication aspects are not in line with what is being said, the meaning might even be contradictory. So in fact, you cannot always switch stuff round. If you have the images and the time codes then you can check this for goodness of fit. If you do't have access to that, then you might like to point it out to the client.


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:33
English to Spanish
+ ...
Same language subtitling and voiceover Jan 14

I'm a big fan of Sir Attenborough's documentaries on the BBC (I get them on Netflix now). Even though I watch them in English (one of my languages), I turn on the English subtitles. Half of the time, the narration does not match the subtitles fully, and that's okay. The gist is preserved. Subtitles are meant to be shorter (concise) for reasons of visibility and legibility, since the medium (moving images) has priority over text.

Speaking of subtitles, the best programs and documentaries try to identify a spoken foreign language as accurately as possible. For example, [Speaking Chinese] or [Speaking Bahasa] are informative labels, whereas [Speaking foreign language] is not.


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Swaiyam  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:33
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Well, Jan 15

Juan Jacob wrote:


...yes, of course! What else?
#

Well you see, I had my doubts about the translation. I wanted to find the definition of a good subtitle before going ahead and changing the subtitles.

[Edited at 2018-01-15 01:20 GMT]

[Edited at 2018-01-15 01:21 GMT]


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Swaiyam  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:33
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
True Jan 15

Maxi Schwarz wrote:



That said, the translation itself sounds a bit iffy: In English, do things "suffer under" a disease? It might benefit from rewording.


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Swaiyam  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:33
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Jan 15


Yes, of course it has to match what is being said, but concessions have to be made. It has to match in two very important ways:
- the meaning
- and what is actually happening on screen.

The body language and facial expressions may be out of synch with what is being said and it may not make sense.


Thank you so much for putting it down so concisely. I knew that I wanted the subtitle to match what was being said on screen but I couldn't figure out why.

[Edited at 2018-01-15 01:19 GMT]


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Swaiyam  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:33
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
character limit Jan 15

According to this source, http://www.permondo.eu/volunteers/introduction-to-subtitling/,

"The space which we have in our translation is limited to 2 lines of subtitles which are usually placed and generally centred at the bottom of the screen. Each line cannot contain more than 35 characters (i.e. any letter, symbol or space). The subtitle (formed by 2 lines) can have up to 70 characters."

Is this the generally accepted norm?


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MK2010  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:33
Member (2017)
French to English
+ ...
Usually... Jan 15

...between 36 and 42 characters per line, depending on the company.

Swaiyam wrote:
Each line cannot contain more than 35 characters (i.e. any letter, symbol or space). The subtitle (formed by 2 lines) can have up to 70 characters."

Is this the generally accepted norm?


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Subtitles versus what is being said

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