Are inaccurate foreign subtitle translations typical on DVDs?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Thik Nongyow, Aug 15, 2002.

  1. Thik Nongyow

    Thik Nongyow Stunt Coordinator

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    In the last several weeks, when I read the Spanish subtitles in "Shrek," I noticed that some dialog are untranslated or translated nowhere close to the English original. For people whose can understand Spanish, this is unacceptable in which they are not getting an accurate and faithful translation of the original film. There are millions of Spanish speakers who watch Hollywood movies and it would not do them justice by giving them a substandard translation of the original English dialog.

    Are sloppy foreign translations typical of Hollywood movie DVDs, or "Shrek" is a rare case? What about other DVDs with inaccurate foreign subtitle translations?
     
  2. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    I'm guessing it's typical that many translations will take an equivalent joke to replace one that doesn't make sense with direct translation
    You'll find that Japanese films, particuarly anime are some of the few that DO feature mostly accurate translations, mostly because of all the whining and bitching that happens when the least little thing is wrong [​IMG]
    I'm guessing the Hispanic population doesn't do enough bitching
     
  3. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

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    slightly OT, last night while watching Voyager, it showed an episode where the away team had crashed and their universal translators were busted. hence, when an alien spoke to them, it was incomprehensible, although generally the intention seemed clear (e.g. wave a gun in a direction = move thataway)

    I noticed that the Chinese subtitles actually translated this alien dialogue into what seemed to be appropriate phrases (e.g. as suggested above), while indicating in brackets that it was spoken in an alien language.

    just an observation. anyone else see this happen, e.g. Quebecois TV viewers seeing French subs "translating" stuff that hadn't actually been?
     
  4. Ken Seeber

    Ken Seeber Supporting Actor

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    A lot of times when translating dialogue, either for dubbing or subtitling, changes are made to more closely fit either the lip movements (in the case of dubbing) or the time available for reading before a particular camera shot changes (in the case of subtitling).
     
  5. Chris M

    Chris M Second Unit

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    I just watched Amelie last night and had a tough time figuring out what "Page St." meant as the guy flipped through his book. I then remembered a thread saying that it was SUPPOSED to say "Page 57". Doh!

    I think there was another one on Amelie too, but the rest looked normal.

    Chris.
     
  6. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    It isn't just DVDs. Many foreign films are subbed for international release with "general" translations, getting the point across without a direct literal translation. I've seen many foreign films on DVD where the subs are burned into the image, and none of them match what is being said by the actors, not that I can understand the original language, but due to their brevity.
     
  7. Thik Nongyow

    Thik Nongyow Stunt Coordinator

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  8. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    Thik, I meant when translated to English [​IMG]
     
  9. Lyle_JP

    Lyle_JP Screenwriter

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    The worst example of bad English subs on a foreign film has to be the MGM disc of La Femme Nikita. Instead of offering a true translation track (found on all earlier video releases through Trimark), MGM only offers a hearing impared track based on the English dub!

    As mentioned earlier in the thread, dubs are more about getting the jist of the scene through dialog written to match mouth movements, rather than accurately translating.

    -Lyle J.P.
     
  10. Aaron Reynolds

    Aaron Reynolds Screenwriter

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    Re-watching Jesus de Montréal last week (the old Orion full frame LD -- but at least it's subtitled), my rudimentary french was picking up differences between the subs and the actual dialogue, but it was all about flavour. I mean, the subs were technically accurate, but missed some meanings, some jokes, some...flavour.
    I forget who said, about women swearing, that "she knows the words, but not the music" (Billy Wilder?), but that's exactly how I felt about these subtitles.
    Of course, my french is not strong enough to properly appreciate the film without them. [​IMG]
    I imagine that the problem is the same in every translation.
     

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