The Art of Subtitles

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swo17
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Re: The Art of Subtitles

#51 Post by swo17 » Wed Dec 30, 2015 12:48 pm

domino harvey wrote:Not to continue the recent Criterion pile-on, but I wish someone had bothered to even look at their subs for A Special Day, as there's an obvious homophone mixup in the first ten minutes...
To be fair, I have a good eye for these things, and I can't remember the last release I watched from any company that didn't have at least one minor subtitling error. (Somebody hire me!)

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MichaelB
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Re: The Art of Subtitles

#52 Post by MichaelB » Wed Dec 30, 2015 1:04 pm

One of the reasons I like to get hold of editable subtitle files at a fairly early stage of production is that it means that I can fix obvious mistakes prior to mastering, leaving the QC stage for typo-spotting. But even despite this two-pass process (and often more than one person doing a QC inspection), mistakes still slip through the net - although hopefully I haven't personally let through anything really embarrassing (famous last words...).

I daresay that a really conscientious inspector could freezeframe each subtitle just to give it a really thorough check - but you won't be at all surprised to hear that QC inspections are charged according to the length of the footage being examined, as opposed to how long the examination actually takes.

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zedz
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Re: The Art of Subtitles

#53 Post by zedz » Wed Dec 30, 2015 2:59 pm

domino harvey wrote:Not to continue the recent Criterion pile-on, but I wish someone had bothered to even look at their subs for A Special Day, as there's an obvious homophone mixup in the first ten minutes...
SpoilerShow
I'm very glad you checked your post for typos before hitting 'submit'.

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GaryC
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Re: The Art of Subtitles

#54 Post by GaryC » Wed Dec 30, 2015 7:08 pm

I do pay attention to subtitles when I'm reviewing and mark down discs when they're not there - something I'm particularly sensitive to as my mother is deaf.

Apologies if anyone involved in the release is on here, but one error I spotted is on the BFI's final Ghost Stories disc - in Number 13 the Black Shuck (a creature from East Anglian folklore) is rendered in the HOH subtitles as the "black shark".

If it ever gets a release, Une semaine de vacances will present a subtitling challenge. I saw it first on TV, then in a 16mm film society showing as part of my French A-level and a third time in 35mm at University. There's a scene near the start where the protagonist's boyfriend delivers what the subtitler renders as a series of smutty puns on film star names: Dack Rams Bo, and so on. I don't know what the original dialogue says (according to my French teacher at the 16mm showing, the original is nothing like the translation). The TV showing and 16mm print did have subtitles during this scene but the 35mm print didn't.

Oh, and the film is AWOL from disc for reasons we know about, but when I saw The Mother and the Whore when it was reissued in UK cinemas in 1997, the subtitles had "[untranslatable French pun]" every now and again.

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: The Art of Subtitles

#55 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Dec 30, 2015 11:54 pm

domino harvey wrote:Not to continue the recent Criterion pile-on
I didn't intend to "pile on" Criterion over the Tokyo Story subtitling -- after all, it simply stuck with the virtually canonical translation that went all the way back to the initial US presentation of the film.

Subbing has its problems, but dubbing takes away one's only chance to catch at least some of the problems....

Just ordered Markus Norne's "Cinema Babel: Translating Global Cinema" with some of my Amazon gift card cash.

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domino harvey
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Re: The Art of Subtitles

#56 Post by domino harvey » Thu Dec 31, 2015 12:10 am

Sorry for the confusion, Michael, my comment was in reference to all of the technical complaints of late, not your post

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: The Art of Subtitles

#57 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Dec 31, 2015 12:36 am

domino harvey wrote:Sorry for the confusion, Michael, my comment was in reference to all of the technical complaints of late, not your post
Wiping brow.... ;-)

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movielocke
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Re: The Art of Subtitles

#58 Post by movielocke » Thu Dec 31, 2015 12:42 pm

Interestingly, in the television realm it's often a different problem, if you subtitle with perfect accuracy someone who needs to be same language subtitled because their dialogue isn't 100% clear you will get kicked back by the network qc for having subtitles that are too long or are not on screen long enough to be readable. But if you compress the subtitle to be shorter and clearer you get kicked back by network qc for having subtitles that are not perfectly accurate to the spoken language. The solution is the network basically forces you to change the edit to match the compressed subtitle. Usually by cutting the audio to match the subtitle and inserting bad cutaways to cover the audio cuts. Hilariously, network qc never questions subtitles of translations, Spanish spoken and subtitled English for example, other than to ask for confirmation that none of the Spanish is bleep able language.

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MichaelB
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Re: The Art of Subtitles

#59 Post by MichaelB » Thu Dec 31, 2015 12:55 pm

Yes, my subtitling software will also flag up instances where I breach certain broadcast requirements regarding things like length. Fortunately, I'm only subtitling for BD and DVD so I have a fair bit more leeway.

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TMDaines
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Re: The Art of Subtitles

#60 Post by TMDaines » Thu Dec 31, 2015 1:23 pm

The good thing is that even most of this sort of stuff is of second nature to fansubbers due to the quality of open source software like Subtitle Edit, which has so many quality controls built in.

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Manny Karp
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Re: The Art of Subtitles

#61 Post by Manny Karp » Sat Jan 02, 2016 6:35 am

How frequently - if ever - does a film have two subtitlers, one for the original language, and one for the intended audience? That seems ideal, but I imagine costs would be prohibitive.

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MichaelB
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Re: The Art of Subtitles

#62 Post by MichaelB » Sat Jan 02, 2016 4:28 pm

Manny Karp wrote:How frequently - if ever - does a film have two subtitlers, one for the original language, and one for the intended audience? That seems ideal, but I imagine costs would be prohibitive.
Something along those lines happens with my projects, especially if the supplied subtitles are in American English subtitles and I'm working on a UK-exclusive release.

For instance, the subtitles that the Czech National Film Archive sent us for Closely Observed Trains were a very good and thorough translation, but they included numerous references to railroads and soccer - the latter looking particularly absurd when you consider that the spoken Czech word is "fotbal". The Firemen's Ball also underwent extensive rewriting, in this case because I suspect the original subtitler wasn't a native English speaker.

It's a lot trickier with joint UK/US releases, though - on La Grande Bouffe, my priority was to try to keep the English neutral, while still catching the colloquial flavour of the original French as far as I could.

In a completely ideal world, the person doing the QC will provide a third pair of eyes - on La Grande Bouffe I was lucky that the QC inspector also spoke fluent French, and she offered numerous excellent suggestions that I was happy to take on board.
Last edited by MichaelB on Sat Jan 02, 2016 4:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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TMDaines
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The Art of Subtitles

#63 Post by TMDaines » Sat Jan 02, 2016 4:29 pm

Manny Karp wrote:How frequently - if ever - does a film have two subtitlers, one for the original language, and one for the intended audience? That seems ideal, but I imagine costs would be prohibitive.
Generally speaking that's not how translation works. You translate out of your secondary/foreign languages into your native languages. There are some famous literary translator partnerships who work in this manner, but it's not exactly necessary or preferred. A good translator would know when to seek a second opinion or defer to a native speaker.

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NLK71
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Re: 217 Tokyo Story

#64 Post by NLK71 » Wed Jan 06, 2016 6:18 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:On the translation of possibly the most famous (and analyzed) line of dialogue in an Ozu film.

Kyoko: "Isn't life disappointing?"
Noriko: "Yes, it is".

Unfortunately, the translation is pretty off the mark in terms of tone.

Kyoko: "Iyaa nee. Yononaka tte."
Noriko: "Sou. Iyanakoto bakkari".

Kyoko: "This world is really awful isn't it?"
Noriko: "Indeed. Just one awful thing after another."

(translated with the aid of some young friends from Showa Boston and a fellow member of the KineJapan mailing list)

A lot less transcendent equanimity than the official mistranslation. In fact, this confirmed my impression that this whole conversation surely had more than a slight tinge of comedy.

Interesting post, but I wouldn't be so quick to write off the "classic" translation. The original Japanese ("Iyaa nee. Yononaka tte.") doesn't contain a verb or copula, just two nouns and two particles, which leaves it open to interpretation. From looking at some online Japanese-English dictionaries (see link below) it appears the phrase "Yononaka ga Iya ni Naru" means something like "to weary of life" which I guess could be rephrased as "to become disillusioned with life" or "to be disappointed in life". Obviously she's talking about life in general rather than her own in particular, so the translator has rendered it as "Isn't life disappointing?". I'm not sure how justified the translator is in assuming that "ni Naru" is the missing verbal element (I'm no expert in Japanese) but it does at least seem plausible to me.

I agree that the second line is a bit unsatisfactory, indeed the BFI Blu-ray subs render it as "Yes, nothing but disappointment", which seems distinctly preferable to the standard translation. And having watched that scene again I think you're right that neither character is being wholly serious.

See: 世の中がいやになる
http://ejje.weblio.jp/content/%E4%B8%96 ... E%E4%B8%AD


Regards,
Nicolas

Orlac
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Re: The Art of Subtitles

#65 Post by Orlac » Fri Mar 18, 2016 8:00 am

The worst subtitle I've seen from a respectable company is on the BFI's BD of Equinox Flower. Unless there really is such a thing as "rape blossoms."

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Lemmy Caution
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Blossoming Rape ...

#66 Post by Lemmy Caution » Fri Mar 18, 2016 8:19 am

Image

The above flowering plants are indeed called rape, but now are mainly referred to as rapeseed plants. The seeds are the reason it is grown commercially, as they contain a lot of oil used traditionally for machinery lubricant. And it's distinctly odd to have a plant called rape, though that's it's name. Canola is a derivative plant bred so that it doesn't have the bitter taste of rapeseed oil. Actually I just got back from a trek to the main plant market crosstown and almost bought rape plants, but went with a whole bunch of other stuff, including large magenta dahlias, small orange trees, and other plants I don't know the name of in English.

A whole field of rape plants is a pretty amazing sight when the flowers are in bloom. A sea of bright yellow.
Last edited by Lemmy Caution on Fri Mar 18, 2016 8:34 am, edited 2 times in total.

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MichaelB
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Re: The Art of Subtitles

#67 Post by MichaelB » Fri Mar 18, 2016 8:28 am

Orlac wrote:The worst subtitle I've seen from a respectable company is on the BFI's BD of Equinox Flower. Unless there really is such a thing as "rape blossoms."
You didn't think to Google first?

Technically, you owe the BFI an apology, but I suspect they'll be too busy busting a gut laughing to care.

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domino harvey
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Re: The Art of Subtitles

#68 Post by domino harvey » Fri Mar 18, 2016 8:31 am

Google reveals the etymology is from "rapum," Latin for turnip

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manicsounds
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Re: The Art of Subtitles

#69 Post by manicsounds » Fri Mar 18, 2016 8:34 am

Here's one for Orlac for another laugh:

A picture of a Japanese Tit

Image

Anyway, as of bad subtitles....

Image

The "Lupin the Third Castle of Cagliostro" Blu-ray has an option to watch the movie with the original 1980 subtitles which had name error, spelling, timing errors, and an ugly large font, but the Blu-ray intentionally keeps it for historical purposes. Good thing it is optional and there are standard translation subtitles available too. Very interesting to compare and contrast.

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MichaelB
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Re: The Art of Subtitles

#70 Post by MichaelB » Fri Mar 18, 2016 8:36 am

Yes, if I ever oversee a classic Hong Kong release I'd be very tempted indeed to offer the original subtitles alongside a more accurate translation - not least because they'd most likely be the ones that really hardcore fans would have first encountered.

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Lemmy Caution
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Re: The Art of Subtitles

#71 Post by Lemmy Caution » Fri Mar 18, 2016 8:59 am

Getting way off topic, but I had a leftover red turnip sitting on the counter for weeks. So finally I planted it to see what it would do. And in a few days a few long stalks shot up. It proceeded to grow three feet tall in a week or so and then flowered with these pretty delicate little white flowers. I enjoyed this turnip more than the ones I ate earlier.

Orlac
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Re: The Art of Subtitles

#72 Post by Orlac » Fri Mar 18, 2016 1:50 pm

I happily admit to having egg on my face!

So the worse subtitle I've seen must be on the Shaw Brothers movie Trail of the Broken Blade, where a dying character urges his beloved and her other beau to "Go...eat something."

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Re: The Art of Subtitles

#73 Post by Raymond Marble » Fri Mar 18, 2016 2:02 pm

MichaelB wrote:
Orlac wrote:The worst subtitle I've seen from a respectable company is on the BFI's BD of Equinox Flower. Unless there really is such a thing as "rape blossoms."
You didn't think to Google first?
Well, in fairness, it's probably unwise to be googling something like "rape blossoms," what with blossoms also having a double meaning these days...

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MichaelB
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Re: The Art of Subtitles

#74 Post by MichaelB » Fri Mar 18, 2016 2:08 pm

Yes, I can see the downside of Googling in haste. A few weeks ago, there was a news story about a woman who complained that the way an item of clothing had been stitched together made it appear to contain the phrase "animal anal".

A few days later, someone gave me an excuse to link to the story on Facebook, but I couldn't remember where I read it or the name of the woman involved - but fortunately, I remembered the contentious phrase, and naïvely thought that Google was my friend, and...

...well, I'm glad it wasn't an image search.

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: The Art of Subtitles

#75 Post by Michael Kerpan » Fri Mar 18, 2016 4:05 pm

"Rape" is the plant whose seeds give us canola oil...

It is a very popular spring flower in Japan, which blooms around the same time that cherry blossoms are flourishing.

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