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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Stop Harrassing Subtitlists When They Translate Things Wrongly Because After 10 Different Shows Where People Mumble, Nobody Has Patience Anymore To Do Things Correctly.

"You look different."
"I feel different."

And then I realised it sounded like a scene from "The Incredibles". Then you kind of hope he will say he regretted what had happened, but of course that will never come. It's not a movie. Those things don't work in real life. Because in real life, nobody makes mistakes and say they're sorry. Things just happened and after a few years, it just dies away leaving only traces of whatever. A guy would try to remember because they forget easily. A girl would try to forget because they remember too much.

In real life, it stops there. It ends with him nodding his head and the awkward silence. And then you play with your cellphone hoping that someone would call so that the silence will be broken and you can answer the phone with a "Hello," wave him goodbye and walk away until you think he cannot see you anymore or the bus came.

Dude,  don't ever let that happened. EV-VER.

I have been busy with work. The bosses send me scripts like criminals send victims threats. The thing with subtitling is that sometimes scripts don't help. There are scripts that were sent from the production house (stuff like sitcoms & movies), and some are just scripts written later, things that are not scripted that you have to rewrite back (like reality shows such as "America's Next Top Model"), that may have errors in it that you need your ears to listen to the audio to correct it. This, my friend, is the point of stress - because now you have to do both job; translating and rewriting the scripts inside your head.

This entry is what I called - Stop Harrassing Subtitlists When They Translate Things Wrongly Because After 10 Different Shows Where People Mumble, Nobody Has Patience Anymore To Do Things Correctly.

Being a subtitlist, you are presented with different sort of issues. Firstly, scripts that have lots of errors. Sometimes the person in the audio visual is saying "You are making it hard for me to panic!", and they wrote "You are making me panic!". Which is of course are two different things but when the copier wrote differently and the actor speaks too fast, you will not be able to realise it. You would, if you are only translating one show. When you have 15 more in queue, everything sounds the way it is.

Second, sometimes videos are not calibrated, or calibrated wrongly that after you cue the subtitles and replay it, you realise that the subtitles came two seconds earlier or maybe 5 minutes earlier than the actual dialogues or 2 seconds or 5 minutes later. And that is when viewers at home going, "Fuckin stupid subtitlist don't know how to put subtitles properly!!!!" Most of the time, it's not our fault. It's the calibration.

Thirdly, don't be an ass and laugh at us when certain things are wrong. We have to be 5 steps ahead of you. While you watch shows that you want, we have to translate all types of shows even stuff we can't understand. For example, translating engineering stuff (reinforced concrete is konkrit bertetulang, I bet you not even real engineers knew that malay term) when you are not an engineering student or even like things that has the word 'engine' in it. Here are examples of stuff in what I mean thinking 5 steps ahead:

1. Britain's Next Top Model : Yeah, you say "That's english. Easy peasy, Miss Freckle Cheesy." Well, for you it's English and you think it's easy because you are reading what I have translated for you. To me, there are loads of different things. In just one show, there are Queen's English, Cockneys, Liverpoolian slangs, Welsh accent, Irish accents, British street slangs, Jamaican British, ethnic slangs. Not all of them resides in Oxford Dictionary or your very comfortable BM-BI Dictionary. And I have never been to England, son. First time di'it, 'was gobsmacked, yah?

2. Engineering/Architectural/Science/Legal Documentaries : Also includes shows like "House", "CSI", or any dramas with professional subject at hand. Things you have to translate includes words like reinforced concrete, metamphetamine, beyond reasonable doubt, triple-lobed footprints, polipodiophyta, spinplasmonics, abstract nonsense, canonical, binomial naminclature, etc.

3. Slangs : there are few of them.
i. Old people might use expressions like "Far out!" or "Oh my giddy aunt!" or words like "snazzy", "hoosegow", etc
ii. Things like organs and body parts have lots of, like you call breast as tits, tiddies, boobs, racks, tatas, nims, etc.
iii. Purple hills, sandwich, tea, idiots pill, indonesian bud, black buttons, Mary Ann, marimba, Peter Pan, chocolate chips. Yes. They are drugs slang.
iv. streets/hip hop slang like Wake and Bake, Benjis, Abes, "he's the parallel, the ace", and stuff that makes you go, "Speak english, idiots!"
v. army slangs like, 'the Nams' (Vietnam), 'jerries' (Germans), 'Victor' or 'Charlie' (Vietcongs).

4. Everything that is in the beautiful thing called language : portmanteaus, abbreviations, acronyms, backronyms, anacronym, jargons, wits, puns (shows like "How I Met Your Mother"), meta-humour (especially shows like "30 Rock" that is filled with them)   

5. As I also translate Indonesian language, there are also stuff like portmanteaus, abreviations and stuff as they have a lot of that. Knowing things like kepsek, jaim, and also understanding how they spell because they use the Dutch/Spanish ways of spelling. It's not ABCDE, it's A BE CE DE. Trivia: What does this spell? WE AH RE U NE GE. (answer: WARUNG)

6. Stuff that you just have to, well... wing it. It includes dialogues such as;
a) "What are you fatal-attraction-ing me for?" or,
b) "Yes, you just have been Maria Ozawa-ed by that guy." or,
c) "Oh my God, she just Carrie-ed me."
*puzzled? Here's the explanation:
a) refers to a scene where the heroine's friend was stalking the heroine and kept copying her
b)  refers to perverse humour about censored sex, as most Japanese pornos mosaic-ed their intercourse scenes (haih, things I do to make people understand english....) and seems like Maria Ozawa is internationally famous for the porn business of Japan.
c) refers to a scene where some girls nearly pour dirty water on to the heroine from above, like a scene in the movie "Carrie", where Sissy Spacek as the titular character got washed by pig's blood in that famous scene in the 70s movie.

7. Stuff that you don't even know how to wing em but you still have to, including scripts that have censored words in each and every few lines but you still have to dodge and translate because it is a part of an important climax to a movie.
Please xxcuse my vulgarity for a while, but I am trying to make a point. It is dialogues such as this that makes you go "Man... give me a break..." ;
"You son of a whore! Do you fucking think, that I will fucking let you fucking leave with that fucking cunt? You damn fucking right. I will let you go, but before that, I will fucking shoot your cock and let the fucking bitch fucking suck it!"
Let's play dodge and dub. Dodge the cussing above and try to make it into a sentence filled with emotion and yet presentable to audience.
(answer: "Lelaki tak guna! Kau fikir aku akan biar kau pergi dengan perempuan jalang tu? Kau memang betul. Aku akan benarkan, tapi sebelum tu aku akan musnahkan kau dan dia!")

Yes, it is sooooo EASY being a translator/subtitlist. Please think again before you say anything. I am not saying your job is easy. But don't say mine is.


Miss Fufue said...

hahaha. buat saye teringat spongebob malay version.

iheartsubtitles said...

Very interesting post. I never ever assumed subtitling was easy. Its a complex skill and I for one appreciate it when the subtitles are there. It is such a shame your boss' do not give you the time that is clearly needed - especially when it comes to unscripted shows such as the one you describe.

shai said...

thanks ihs! I love ur blog! never knew there's a group of translators/subtitlists out there.

hEMoHemO87 said...

still, your job sounds interesting..
i love subs..
i even watch english movie with english it weird??
nah..not really..
it's like a-day-without-a-sun to watch movies w/out subs..(hyperbola!)

anyway,keep doing what u love doing.don't give a shit what other people think..

Shai Kamarudin said...

tula, sbnrnya easier tgk filem with subtitles, u dun really need it. bukannya tak paham without it, but it makes it easier for you. tak payah nak tumpukan perhatian btool2 apa yg omputih tu sebut. enhancer. the magic word. :P

Anonymous said...

As for me, all I know is that I know nothing.

Mie said...

totally agree with u sis!!! found ur blog when googling 'astro subtitlist'.. im doing subtitle translation for hindi movies.. but i do think im underpaid.. can we contact thru email.. im realli trying to find a better offer here.. haish.. ya, u're right about the boss.. they send us work like crazy.. contact me pls
really appreciate ur insight..

Lepixie said...

Hi Shai, I want to be a subtitlist too! It would be reaaally cool of you if you would tell me how I could apply for the job. So...mind giving me some tips? :))