What's up with horrible translations on Netflix?
Thread poster: Tan Nguyen

Tan Nguyen  Identity Verified
Vietnam
Local time: 17:52
Member (2019)
English to Vietnamese
+ ...
Oct 17, 2019

I have a long list of thousands of Netflix films/ episodes that have serious localization/ translation issues.

Here are two examples of laughable translations.

The first example is from the episode of Explained: Season 2: "Billionaires". She is a Forbes editor. But covering is translated with the meaning of hiding, resulting in a ridiculous translation.
image


The second example is from the episode of The Spy: The Immigrant. Train in this sentence is supposed to be a verb, however they courageously but carelessly, etc. translated it as a noun, means of transportation.
unnamed




[Edited at 2019-10-18 03:10 GMT]


Ulin Nuha
Arabic & More
Heather Hong
 

Slobodan Kozarčić  Identity Verified
Serbia
Local time: 11:52
Member (2016)
English to Serbian
+ ...
Me too Oct 17, 2019

Want more examples of bad (stupid) translations as seen on Fox and HBO TVs Serbia?

"Two and a Half Men" show, Fox and 02 TV:
- "That‘s a pretty standard boilerplate," translated as, "That‘s a pretty standard nameplate from a boiler."
- Charlie was disappointed in the movie he's just watched. His girfriend says: "You don't buy a central premise that a dog can play hockey?" Translated as "You don't buy a large lot so that a dog can play hockey th
... See more
Want more examples of bad (stupid) translations as seen on Fox and HBO TVs Serbia?

"Two and a Half Men" show, Fox and 02 TV:
- "That‘s a pretty standard boilerplate," translated as, "That‘s a pretty standard nameplate from a boiler."
- Charlie was disappointed in the movie he's just watched. His girfriend says: "You don't buy a central premise that a dog can play hockey?" Translated as "You don't buy a large lot so that a dog can play hockey there?" Charlie replies: "Not as a power forward," translated as "Well, that's not a condition."
- "Sophomore," trans. as "The final year";
- "In a tube top," transl. as "In mini skirt"
- "My carpal tunnel is acting up," translated as "My boss will carp at me again."
-"Turn tricks", translated as "Show tricks" (like a magician);
-"Knock-off Gucci bag", translated as "A fantastic bag".

"Las Vegas" show, Fox Crime TV:
- "Mitch, back up camera 43 ten seconds." Transl., "Mice, back up 43 seconds."
- "With a tape measure", translated as "With a camera";
- "Naked trumps fear", translated as "I fear of nudity";

The 3rd Rock from the Sun show, Prva plus TV:
- "Shotgun" (a man yells approaching the car), translated as "Party";
- "In the heart of meat packing district," trans. as "In a district for parking refrigerator trucks."
- "I worked the graveyard last night," trans. as "I worked in the cemetery."

I've sent a complaint to Prva plus TV Serbia crew, but they told me "it's an artistic license", although they later changed stupid translation into correct.
And all those examples are in my essay published four times in Serbian newspapers.
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Tan Nguyen
Kuochoe Nikoi-Kotei
Arabic & More
 

Jocelin Meunier  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 11:52
English to French
Not surprising Oct 17, 2019

Netflix has a history of having terrible subtitles and the reason is pretty much always: going for the cheapest subtitling agency. Subtitle translation is my main line of work and there is a constant, especially in entertainment content like TV shows and films, of clients going for the cheapest bid, regardless of quality.
A few years ago, Netflix was drowning in complaints regarding their subtitles and launch a vast campaign of recruitment in order to hire subtitlers instead of using agenc
... See more
Netflix has a history of having terrible subtitles and the reason is pretty much always: going for the cheapest subtitling agency. Subtitle translation is my main line of work and there is a constant, especially in entertainment content like TV shows and films, of clients going for the cheapest bid, regardless of quality.
A few years ago, Netflix was drowning in complaints regarding their subtitles and launch a vast campaign of recruitment in order to hire subtitlers instead of using agencies. The thing is, after a long period of radio silence, they decided that it would be "too costly" and got back to giving subtitling work to agencies. The agencies offering the best rates to translators barely receive any work now. Quality has a price and they are not ready to pay for it, it is that simple.
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Slobodan Kozarčić
María Paula Gorgone
Fernanda Sued
Jean Chao
IrinaN
Kuochoe Nikoi-Kotei
Arabic & More
 

Laurent Mercky
France
Local time: 11:52
Member (2019)
Chinese to French
+ ...
full of spelling errors Oct 17, 2019

full of spelling errors.
but not only Netflix.


Josephine Cassar
 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 18:52
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
. Oct 18, 2019

Netflix is indifferent about their translations, so they only get indifferent translations.

Laurent Mercky
Arabic & More
 

Simin Tan  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:52
Chinese to English
There is one major services provider for Asian titles... Oct 18, 2019

... with horribly low rates and insane turnaround times, which really explains a lot of the nonsense floating around with Asian titles.

The worst translations I've seen are from "current" shows that are released simultaneous to TV broadcast. When I find a particularly egregious episode, though, I send a quick message to Netflix on social media. They always respond politely and "with gratitude", but of course, whether they really act on such feedback is unknown. But doing so takes m
... See more
... with horribly low rates and insane turnaround times, which really explains a lot of the nonsense floating around with Asian titles.

The worst translations I've seen are from "current" shows that are released simultaneous to TV broadcast. When I find a particularly egregious episode, though, I send a quick message to Netflix on social media. They always respond politely and "with gratitude", but of course, whether they really act on such feedback is unknown. But doing so takes me very little time, so why the heck not.

[Edited at 2019-10-18 08:17 GMT]
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Arabic & More
 

Tan Nguyen  Identity Verified
Vietnam
Local time: 17:52
Member (2019)
English to Vietnamese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
in Vietnamese language, it must have been other reasons, Oct 18, 2019

Simin Tan wrote:

... with horribly low rates and insane turnaround times, which really explains a lot of the nonsense floating around with Asian titles.


as far as I am aware of.


 

Tan Nguyen  Identity Verified
Vietnam
Local time: 17:52
Member (2019)
English to Vietnamese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
How Netflix responded Oct 18, 2019

Simin Tan wrote:

The worst translations I've seen are from "current" shows that are released simultaneous to TV broadcast. When I find a particularly egregious episode, though, I send a quick message to Netflix on social media. They always respond politely and "with gratitude", but of course, whether they really act on such feedback is unknown. But doing so takes me very little time, so why the heck not.

[Edited at 2019-10-18 08:17 GMT]


In July, I reported this episode of Stranger Things S3:4 The Sauna Test. I sent them this screenshot, saying that three were three big issues in two simple sentences.
Capture


After about three weeks, they came up with this version which still contained the wrong translation of lived in a bubble, making the translation of -Well, you do! incorrect too.
Capture1


I informed them again, by the end of July, and many times again in October, but this version is still "safe and sound", as of today.

And for your information, that specific episode still contains tons of other serious issues as of today.






[Edited at 2019-10-18 09:07 GMT]


Arabic & More
 

Tan Nguyen  Identity Verified
Vietnam
Local time: 17:52
Member (2019)
English to Vietnamese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
a reference Nov 4, 2019

Simin Tan wrote:

... with horribly low rates and insane turnaround times, which really explains a lot of the nonsense floating around with Asian titles.

[Edited at 2019-10-18 08:17 GMT]


https://npfp.netflixstudios.com/npfp-program-conditions-sla-global-rate-card-scope-of-work


 

Guofei_LIN  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 20:52
Chinese
This should be a wake-up call Nov 5, 2019

This should be a wake-up call if you still believe that you can provide quality translation, and clients (such as Netflix) needs quality translation, then you two can do business.

The truth is, even if Netflix is willing to pay higher rates, they will still get bad translation. So they might as well save some money and wait for the machine translation to catch up.


 

Tan Nguyen  Identity Verified
Vietnam
Local time: 17:52
Member (2019)
English to Vietnamese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
A bitter truth Nov 5, 2019

Guofei_LIN wrote:

This should be a wake-up call if you still believe that you can provide quality translation, and clients (such as Netflix) needs quality translation, then you two can do business.



I have been sending Netflix lots of emails reporting films/ series released on Nov 1. If anyone finds subtitle issues in such films/ series in your language, please let me know. We can do something together.
Capture

Guofei_LIN wrote:
The truth is, even if Netflix is willing to pay higher rates, they will still get bad translation. So they might as well save some money and wait for the machine translation to catch up.


As I said earlier, at this point, rate is not a reason for Vietnamese. For other languages, you may refer to the link that I posted in previous post in this thread.

I can tell you a bitter truth I have experienced first hand. Many Vietnamese translators/ linguists have glamorous profiles but their translations are terrible, destroying the name of the profession. Ironically (almost) no one speaks up. And more ironically when someone does speak up, there are few/no supporters but lots of attackers even with fake accounts.

One example of another horrible translation from "Fire in Paradise" released on Nov 1.
Capture1


 

Guofei_LIN  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 20:52
Chinese
Machine translation is the answer Nov 5, 2019

The way business works, this problem will never be solved as long as they continue to rely on human translators.

Suppose you were the guy at Netflix responsible for producing subtitles in dozens of languages and you know you have quality issues. What do you propose to do? What can you do?

Nothing.


 

Alexandra Hirsch (X)  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 11:52
English to German
+ ...
Machines to blame Nov 5, 2019

Probably all done by a machine (i.e. computer with pattern-matching skills and large database). Always looks good on the surface but turns out to be junk.

 

jbjb  Identity Verified
Estonia
Local time: 12:52
Estonian to English
+ ...
rate Nov 5, 2019

Note that the rate for Vietnamese (8.75 USD per minute) is for project management, translation and proofreading. Depending on the company, Vietnamese translators may still be paid around 1 dollar per minute, with the company keeping much of the money.
Subcontracting strings are also common (a big company accepts the 8.75 USD rate and looks for a local Vietnamese translation company to do the actual work, offering 3-4 USD per minute, meaning that after that company takes its own project man
... See more
Note that the rate for Vietnamese (8.75 USD per minute) is for project management, translation and proofreading. Depending on the company, Vietnamese translators may still be paid around 1 dollar per minute, with the company keeping much of the money.
Subcontracting strings are also common (a big company accepts the 8.75 USD rate and looks for a local Vietnamese translation company to do the actual work, offering 3-4 USD per minute, meaning that after that company takes its own project managing cut, they really only have a budget of 1.5-2 USD for translation+proofreading).
Still, Netflix also invests in quality control that should be able to weed out bad subcontractors. Each time they have to redeliver a file due to translation mistakes, they get a lower rating and also lower their chances of getting work from Netflix.
Keep up with this and it may change something for the better.
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Jean Chao
 


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