Have you ever wondered how so many people are able to enjoy foreign movies or TV shows without speaking the language? Subtitles are the answer! However, creating subtitles isn’t just about translating words; it’s about understanding different cultures and making content relatable for diverse audiences.
In this blog post, we’ll take a simplified look at the world of subtitling and some essential translation techniques. What challenges do translators face and what techniques have they used to overcome them? Get ready to discover the magic of overcoming cultural barriers through subtitles!
Cultural Differences and the Need for Translation Techniques
When enjoying content from other countries, it’s essential to understand that every culture has a unique set of values, customs, and expressions. Subtitling services need to consider these differences to create an enjoyable experience for viewers from various backgrounds.
Translation techniques help subtitle creators adapt content to make it more relatable and accessible for their target audience. These techniques require knowledge of different cultures, as well as balancing loyalty to the original content with the need to make it enjoyable for the audience. Subtitlers are facilitators in connecting content with the viewer despite cultural differences and contrasting expectations. Translating subtitles is more than just translating individual words or sentences. It’s about preserving meaning despite differences in the original and target languages.
A Simplified Look at Some Translation Techniques
Let’s explore some simplified translation techniques that can help subtitle creators navigate the challenges of overcoming cultural barriers.
In some cases, subtitle creators translate words or phrases exactly as they are in the original language. This technique can work well for simple phrases or sentences where the meaning is clear, but it might not always be the best approach, as it can sometimes lead to awkward or confusing subtitles.
It’s so important for translators to be familiar with both the original and target language. It’s good to know when to translate literally or not. Because if you were to directly translate “baguette” as “stick” English audiences would be confused about why people are asking for branches at the dinner table!
Changing the Grammar
Occasionally, subtitle creators need to change the grammar of the original content to better suit the target language. This technique can be helpful when the original language’s structure doesn’t fit the target language’s norms or when trying to appeal to the target audience’s preferences. For example, the expression “Había una vez…” in Spanish can be translated as “There was a time…” but the more appropriate English equivalent is “Once upon a time…”. In theory, it means the same, but both are set phrases to be used in the context of starting a new story, and more commonly in the fairy tale genre. So adjusting the translation to the more appropriate use in the target language can clue audiences into the tone and intention of a fairy tale.
Changing the Perspective
When the original content’s expression might not resonate with the target audience, subtitle creators can change the perspective while keeping the meaning the same. This technique can make the content more accessible and engaging for viewers.
For example, an English subtitle for a Japanese expression that means “good luck” or “do your best” could be translated as “You’ve got this!” The meaning remains the same, but the expression is adapted to better connect with English-speaking viewers. It’s all about creating connection between the content and the viewer. By understanding the connotation of an expression and not just its meaning can help subtitlers create a stronger connection.
Finding Similar Expressions
Subtitle creators often need to find a similar expression in the target language that conveys the same impact or effect as the original content, even if the words are different. This technique is especially useful for idiomatic expressions or culturally-specific references that may not have a direct translation.
For example, a German phrase that literally translates to “That’s not my beer” might be translated into English as “It’s none of my business.” The literal meaning is different, but the intended message and impact are the same.
“Borrowed” words are words that are used so often between cultures that they are adopted in the target language. This is a natural kind of cultural diffusion that can make a translation job a little bit easier. For every borrowed word that viewers in the target language recognize, that is one fewer word that the translator needs to find a replacement for.
For example, when watching a French film with English subtitles, you might see the word “baguette” left untranslated, as most English speakers are familiar with this type of bread. “Baguette” in French also happens to be a borrowed word originally from the Italian “bacchetta” which directly translated means “stick.”
Subtitling services play a vital role in overcoming cultural barriers and making content accessible to diverse audiences. By using various translation techniques, subtitle creators can successfully navigate the complexities of different languages and cultures while ensuring an engaging and enjoyable viewing experience.
As our world becomes more interconnected, subtitling and translation services are more important than ever. The next time you watch a foreign film or TV show with subtitles, take a moment to appreciate the hard work and dedication that goes into making content enjoyable.
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