Colloquialisms and translations question

I agree with you, and that’s why in Korean films, for instance, we translate with full liberty, because they are much more free in speech than TV-shows, which typically are watched by the whole family in Korea.
On the other hand, there is a “but” in all this. Written profanities have a greater impact and shock value than spoken.
First of all a subtitle stays longer than a single spoken word. But it’s not only that. Putting it in writing gives it a more “official standing”, a more definite existence, so to speak. I don’t know how to explain it better but I hope you understand what I mean.
That’s why we always try to write something that is one step below in offensiveness than what is said. Not censored completely and replaced by a “child-safe” equivalent, but if there is a possibility, a choice -and there are many instances where there isn’t-, just one step down than the original.

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Well, I may not be proficient enough in Chinese/Korean language, but one thing I do know, and that is that some vulgar/cursing/slang words translated from Original Korean/Chinese to English language in some dramas/movies are just made up by the subbers. I’m 100% sure the Original language (Korean/Chinese) has no such words in their vocabulary. Like I always feel when they translate a word in Korean as son of a bitch is so wrong since gae is dog and jasig is child and sig is ceremony. Where do they get the word son of a bitch from? Of course, since I’m no expert I can’t say I’m right and they are wrong, but I just feel they simply ‘‘invented’’ that word and kept using it in the subtitles, and it makes me feel so annoyed to see it so often now in dramas/movie. Why would a police officer in a drama say so much son of a bitch to another police officer? To a criminal Okay, but so many times to another police officer? I just can’t see that scene without getting annoyed.

If someone out there knows how they break from Korean 개자식 gaejasig into son of a bitch/ and some even write mother fucker; I would appreciate the explanation so much and thank you in advance.

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Korean: child of a dog
English: son of a female dog

It’s quite close to each other if you ask me.

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I agree, but on Viki, there is still the problem of an international public. Viewers might watch with English subtitles if their own language is not available and other languages usually translate from English. Not all colloquialisms are known all over the world and some might even have different meanings in different regions. So the main reason we use neutral terms is to avoid confusion or even mistranslations in other languages.

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@mirjam_465
It’s quite close to each other if you ask me.

What about motherfucker? How is that one close to child of a dog? I see that one more now in subtitles, than son of a bitch.

That one is further from the literal translation. It still holds the same feeling so it could be used, but there is no reason to do so since we have the other option.

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mirjam_465
, but there is no reason to do so since we have the other option.

@mirjam_465 you always give me the answer I want to hear, and I sincerely thank you so much.

‘‘there is no reason to do so.’’

We do have other options of words so those two (2) won’t keep falling into a demeaning vulgar expression; since if you don’t know that, son of a bitch is really insulting towards women in general. We deserve respect.

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Close and not close. Because in English bitch is not only a female dog, but also a woman of loose morals. So “son of a bitch” is equivalent of “your mother is a whore”.
Of course “dog” in Asian countries and also in Arab countries is not a much-loved animal, so “son of a dog” is really an insult.
Son of a gun might be an appropriate English alternative.
There are lots of idioms in Korea featuring dogs, and you can see there is no love for an animal that got raised as food until a few years ago and still is in some places. The concept of a dog as a pet is gaining popularity, but it’s a more recent trend.

But - as I already pointed out a month ago - there’s a whole thread here about profanities, with answers from veteran Korean-English contributors, so whoever needs more info, can find it there.

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I know that. I was just pointing out the similarities.

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True, but the use of the word in that sense originated directly from its definition of a female dog, specifically a female dog in heat, so the comparison still stands.

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I agree with how written profanity can sometimes have an extra shock value and the approach of just dropping it a slight note is great, a quite sensible idea.

My feeling is more that we have a culture clash between a very profanity averse usonian and posibly canadian population vs certain important cultural contexts in which profanity is used in other countries. Even just comparing an Australian, Irish, and british show compared to Angloamerican ones is quite a shock for some, and that is something that has to be managed in the understanding that the anglophone population is larger outside north america, for example the Phillipines, India, several african countries, Australia, NZ, and the vast majority less averse to profanity.

For example I’d say that koreans tend to haul out the heavy machinery as a complement to violating rules of honorifics when all of a sudden you decide not to accept the hierarchy because you have lost your patience. And it is an important contrast in a context where people bow, halfbow, are very polite and formal, using titles and honorifics according to the rank in age, social standing and wealth. There’s a quite consistent pattern where the underdog, be that the worker, the woman, etc loses their shit, raises the tone, drops the honorifics and wraps up with trumpeting several resounding linguistic flurries :wink: .

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I was reminded of Gordon Ramsey, who peppers every single sentence with f***. And you scratch your head and think "why on earth does one need to do that? Is it that some people don’t have a rich enough vocabulary to express the extent of their (negative) feelings?
And I remember that in the American version of his show it was very toned-down - or was it beeped? I don’t remember, it’s been a long time.

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Interesting confusion, or was it conflict, on a Polish drama I saw in the other place. You know, it has an n and an x in the title.

Anyway, it was a very good thriller where the lead detective had two important details to her character. One that she was lesbian, the other that she had a gypsy grandmother, both of which arose in the storyline.

Now, she ends up falling out with a colleague, and when she tries to make up with him, he verbally abuses her saying [subtitles] ‘get lost … gypsy!’, but on the soundtrack we definitely heard the word ‘lesbo’, whereas gypsy would have been ‘se-guy-ski’.

I’m scratching my head wondering what sensibility the subtitler was was sensitive, especially as there had already been remarks by other characters cussing her for sexuality. Curious.

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Unfortunately, many translators make this mistake.

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In this context (Viki) it’s even worse, because translators of other languages are left scratching their heads when they want to find an equivalent in their own language of a US colloquialism which 1) they may not know at all and 2) may have been used incorrectly to begin with.

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In addition to this, when I was heavily involved in English editing, I formed the opinion that there were also people involved in translating from the original language into English who were completely unaware that they were using an idiom, colloquialism or even slang (in some instances). While this is understandable as even many native English speakers are unaware of the idioms they use regularly, when English editing, I think it’s important to have a more heightened awareness of language.

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Keep in mind that most Ko-En or Chi-En translators are immigrants or children of immigrants, who learned English mostly from living in the country, sometimes also going at an American school (with whatever cultural baggage that might give), other times coming to the US after having done their schooling in Korea (or China). Very often their parents and other family don’t even speak good English, and they don’t speak English at home - or if they do, it would be better if they didn’t.
But then the translation editor should be someone who speaks the two languages reasonably well, so that he can decipher everything for the English editor to be able to do his/her job. That’s why the T.E. is such a crucial figure. Unfortunately it’s a disappearing species around here. And the Viki higher-ups do nothing to lure them to stay.

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When I was working on a show yeasterday I had the words “don’t try to fudge it” so I had to look it up "When fudge is a verb, it means to avoid straightforwardly answering a question or addressing a subject : “Just answer my question and don’t fudge the issue!” Fudge is an American word from college slang meaning “a made-up story.”
I still find it facinating that there are so many phrase that I have to look up when I write subtitles.

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