Pages in topic:   [1 2] >
The woman who translated the TV show Seinfeld into German and the problems she faced
Thread poster: LegalTransform

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:04
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jul 7, 2015

(I'm actually impressed that they allowed one person to do all the work rather than "splitting into multiple pieces"):

http://www.theverge.com/2015/6/24/8809723/jerry-seinfeld-tv-show-international-translation

"Translating a single sitcom episode can take longer than an entire action movie"

[Edited at 2015-07-07 22:58 GMT]


 

Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 12:04
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
Thanks for the article Jul 7, 2015

Just one question, as my German is very basic. Isn't Uschi the obvious German counterpart for Dolores, given the circumstances?

 

Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:04
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Far beyond literal translation? Wow! Jul 8, 2015

Mikhail Kropotov wrote:

Just one question, as my German is very basic. Isn't Uschi the obvious German counterpart for Dolores, given the circumstances?


Indeed, that's about the first thing that comes to anyone's mind.

The author of the article obviously has a very limited knowledge of what a translator actually does, and it's quite telling that he feels the need to point out - more than once, actually - that the translator of this particular programme had to go "far beyond literal translation", as if that were in any way unique.

I must say that I've never watched Seinfeld in English, but in German, I find it neither funny nor witty.



[Bearbeitet am 2015-07-08 08:00 GMT]


 

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:04
German to English
Uschi Jul 8, 2015

I would say that because "Uschi" is the first thing that comes to anyone's mind, it doesn't work that well: The joke doesn't make any sense and certainly isn't funny then, because Jerry would have to be a (complete) idiot to not think of it. Dolores/clitoris is fairly obscure both in terms of "Dolores" being a rare name for that generation and my generation and the rhyme not being immediately obvious. Maybe "Fabia" - although that might be too extreme, I could imagine only German doctors may know the word "Labia".

I am always shocked by intelligent Germans' dislike for "Seinfeld" (coupled with their liking of wretched garbage like "Friends") and I don't think it probably matters if the translations are good or bad. I also don't think it's about the Jewish characters or references (I think "The Nanny" is/was fairly popular here in Germany). The only genuinely funny German sitcom I have ever seen is "Doktor Psycho" (which was hilariously funny and was quickly cancelled). Something like "Danni Lowinski" was enjoyable in its better moments, but I think that the Germans just kind of like their humor very tame and harmless.

And the work was split up: The texts were translated into an intermediary form and then reworked at a later stage (only the woman in charge of it all and the voice actors remained the same). That seems like a great way to suck the humor out of anything and to fail to have a reliable means to reintroduce it.

I actually saw (a brief) part of an "Absolutely Fabulous" episode dubbed into German and it was amazing how unfunny it was. (I'd love to see what they do with "Black Adder".) And as far as the popularity of "The Simpsons" here goes, maybe they just like it for different reasons (there's as much "Friends" in "The Simpsons" as there is "Seinfeld" in it) or maybe it's purely the fact that advertising can work miracles.


 

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 12:04
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
It's just plain stupid to synchronize such shows Jul 8, 2015

Don't Germans still understand English or why do they need dubbing? I would never watch any comedy show that has not the original sound track, even if it were Chinese, which I sure don't understand a single word.

 

Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:04
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Dolores? I don't get it. Jul 8, 2015

How can DolOres be said to rhyme with clItoris? (stressed vowels capitalized). Or is clitoris pronounced clitOris in the USA? No wonder it's not popular in the UK, we need the jokes dubbed or subtitled too.

 

Jonathan Norris  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:04
Spanish to English
+ ...
Stereotypes Jul 8, 2015

It's funny how foreign fans claim to like the show simply because the characters remind them of Americans they know, I think that's a main attraction for Americans, too. Everyone in the show reminds you of someone you know, and the situations are so mundane yet uniquely comical, Seinfeld is without a doubt a primogenitor of the reality series before that phrase was coined.

To Jack: Clitoris does get mispronounced because it's one of those words most people read first before they ever hear it said properly, so you get into the habit of mispronouncing it. That's part of the joke.



[Edited at 2015-07-08 17:36 GMT]


 

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:04
German to English
not a mispronunciation Jul 9, 2015

You say tomato, I say tomato. You say clitoris, I say clitoris ...

Both pronunciations are listed in Merriam-Webster's and both variations (the one that sounds like Dolores and the one that doesn't) certainly sound like correct and widespread variations to my Midwestern American ears.

And, to be honest, this particular translation problem has got me somewhat fascinated: "Uschi" is somehow analogous to a (senselessly) literal translation. The letter of the original text (rhymes with a female sexual organ) has been preserved but its spirit (its humor) entirely lost. The translator has failed to understand why the joke is funny (to Americans) in English and also failed to note that the joke is (understandably) unfunny in German.


 

xxxvonflauschig
Germany
Local time: 11:04
English to German
+ ...
Unfortunately Jul 9, 2015

Heinrich Pesch wrote:

Don't Germans still understand English or why do they need dubbing? I would never watch any comedy show that has not the original sound track, even if it were Chinese, which I sure don't understand a single word.


Germans dub everything. The worst part of it is, they have only a specific set of people who dub. So one evening you look a film with Vin Diesel with a specific voice and then you go to cinema and the same voice speaks for the prince from Cinderella.


 

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:04
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Who dubs Arnold? Jul 9, 2015

vonflauschig wrote:

Germans dub everything. The worst part of it is, they have only a specific set of people who dub. So one evening you look a film with Vin Diesel with a specific voice and then you go to cinema and the same voice speaks for the prince from Cinderella.


 

Thomas Pfann  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:04
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
Arnold Jul 9, 2015

Jeff Whittaker wrote:
Who dubs Arnold?


The same guy who also dubs John Travolta, Sylvester Stallone, Dan Aykroyd and John Cleese!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Danneberg


 

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:04
German to English
blinking while watching German movies Jul 9, 2015

It is a very important skill to be able to never to blink for any longer than usual or avert your eyes for any significant amount of time while watching any good dubbed films or series in German.

On the positive side, the strange associations can make bad things somewhat better (when you suddenly mentally have John Cleese delivering Arnie's "I let him go" [however they translated that one] from whatever '80s action movie that was).

It's right up there with being able to use passive and impersonal constructions to comfortably carry on a 20-minute conversation while entirely avoiding second-person pronouns in order to avoid committing yourself to an informal or formal form of address (I still haven't mastered that one).


 

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:04
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
But it seems like every German and every Dane and every Swede.... Jul 9, 2015

speak and understand English, so why the need for dubbing? Or is this just for the older generation? It must be difficult to work as a translator in countries where everyone speaks English so well and probably thinks they can do your job.

Michael Wetzel wrote:

It is a very important skill to be able to never to blink for any longer than usual or avert your eyes for any significant amount of time while watching any good dubbed films or series in German.

On the positive side, the strange associations can make bad things somewhat better (when you suddenly mentally have John Cleese delivering Arnie's "I let him go" [however they translated that one] from whatever '80s action movie that was).

It's right up there with being able to use passive and impersonal constructions to comfortably carry on a 20-minute conversation while entirely avoiding second-person pronouns in order to avoid committing yourself to an informal or formal form of address (I still haven't mastered that one).


[Edited at 2015-07-09 14:48 GMT]


 

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:04
German to English
absolute myth Jul 9, 2015

It is an absolute myth that Germany belongs on a list with the Scandinavian countries and Holland (and maybe younger generarations in some Eastern European countries) in terms of widespread substantial knowledge of English.

A lot of Germans have a very good passive and/or active knowledge of English. That can extend to all walks of life, but obviously the more education and the more urban the environment, the higher the rates of good English.
However, the vast majority of Germans (we're talking all 80,000,000+ Germans here) have nothing approaching the level needed to hold an enjoyable conversation or to genuinely enjoy a film or series in English (particularly a comedy). I wouldn't even say that half of all university graduates (aged, say, 25-40) have that kind of English skills.


 

Thomas Pfann  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:04
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
The art of dubbing Jul 9, 2015

Jeff Whittaker wrote:
[But it seems like every German and every Dane and every Swede] speak and understand English, so why the need for dubbing? Or is this just for the older generation? It must be difficult to work as a translator in countries where everyone speaks English so well.


At least for Germans this couldn't be further from the truth. Most Germans you know probably have a translator/linguist background but ordinary Germans speak German, not English.

Also, I don't think it matters whether people are able to follow a story in another language or not when deciding whether movies should get dubbed or not. In some countries they tend to dub foreign films, in others they tend to subtitle and in others still they might do voice-overs. It's merely a question of what people are used to.

I, for one, (sorry, Tom) have absolutely nothing against films dubbed in German. It's usually done brilliantly well. Most people want to be able to relax and enjoy the film without having to concentrate on reading the subtitles or having to switch to a foreign language (and still only getting half of what's being said).

I once had the great pleasure of watching voice actors at work in the studio. Not dubbing a film, but an animated computer game which might be a bit easier – but the idea is the same. It was amazing to see how they did it and what results they achieved. It seemed so effortless: they just read the German text, watched the original scene, spoke the German text over it – knowing exactly how to tweak the German or where to breathe a little longer than usual in order to achieve the perfect lip-sync.

[Edited at 2015-07-09 20:03 GMT]


 
Pages in topic:   [1 2] >


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

The woman who translated the TV show Seinfeld into German and the problems she faced

Advanced search







Wordfast Pro
Translation Memory Software for Any Platform

Exclusive discount for ProZ.com users! Save over 13% when purchasing Wordfast Pro through ProZ.com. Wordfast is the world's #1 provider of platform-independent Translation Memory software. Consistently ranked the most user-friendly and highest value

More info »
memoQ translator pro
Kilgray's memoQ is the world's fastest developing integrated localization & translation environment rendering you more productive and efficient.

With our advanced file filters, unlimited language and advanced file support, memoQ translator pro has been designed for translators and reviewers who work on their own, with other translators or in team-based translation projects.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search