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Cheap subtitling: an expensive mistake?

Posted by Annemieke, August 12 2013

Subtitles should enable a foreign audience to enjoy and understand a film spoken in a different language whilst maintaining the integrity of the script. Of course, the translator might need to take some freedom when translating colloquial phrases, but the subtitler should stick to the intentions of the film maker without trying to add or change meaning.

The translator who subtitled the film Pacific Rim recently was widely considered to have strayed too far from the original script. In addition, the Chinese subtitles were criticised for the quality of their translation with suggestions that they were inaccurate and unprofessional. For example, the translation of the phrase "Elbow Rocket" (a fighting technique associated with the Jaizu of Pacific Rim) into "Pegasus Meteor fist" (a technique belonging to Saint Seiya, a completely different manga) caused considerable annoyance.

Situations such as these seem to occur when the importance of accurate, aesthetically pleasing subtitles is underestimated. This may mean subtitling is not factored into the time and cost budget, resulting in a rushed subtitling process and a set of subtitles of low quality which do not do the original film or the audience justice.

To avoid mistakes such as these, it is important to plan the subtitling cost and timescales into your project from the start as well as making sure the finished titles are proofread by a professional editor. If you would like to discuss your project or find out what we can do for you, please contact us on info@media-lingo.com.


  Posted by Annemieke, August 12 2013
  Film and Television, Languages, Proofreading, Subtitling, Translation