Colloquialisms and translations question

It’s because Viki’s subs begin with English. The English subs are then used by translators in other languages to translate them. Subs are contained within segments and the segment is set-up by the English editing team for other languages to use.


This is exactly what came to mind when @annabanana128 explained what she meant. My Italian flatmate in Helsinki had brought one with her from home. I didn’t remember the name, though.


Hmm, interesting. I guess it would depend on the kind of text and how important it is for the reader/viewer to know the exact kind of pot. If it is important, for example if it’s a guide on how to make that particular coffee like what our professor gave us back then, I would probably go with “moka pot” and then add a translator’s note if I felt that the term in that particular context would cause confusion. However, if it was an off-hand comment a character in a novel or drama said and it was just important that they made coffee with no significance as to how and with what exactly, I’d probably just go with “coffee pot” or “coffee maker” just to make it easier for the reader/viewer to understand and to help with the flow of the text.


Yes! I love that too. I’ve learned so much about the source languages through little translator’s notes that they add on the subs here and, as a viewer, I really appreciate it. To be honest, I also really appreciate it a subber, because it really clarifies the meaning and makes it easier to translate. It’s a shame most other platforms don’t do it like that. I could be wrong about this, but I think a lot of them might not be allowed to do it. I always remember being taught in translation classes that a translator’s note is kind of a last resort sort of thing and it also might be due to a space issue, in terms of the company wanting the shortest possible subs so that viewers have enough time to read everything on the screen without pausing the video. Although, I have to say I personally would love it if stuff like that was explained more often. When I first started watching K-Drama and C-Drama, it took me an age to understand that sometimes the characters refer to each other with terms similar to “Sister” and “Brother”, because I kept hearing something different while the subs just had the name of the character. In English that’s obviously not a thing and the translator opted for just substituting it with the name of the characters. It wasn’t until I saw it written down somewhere that I finally understood and learned something too. I know in one particular drama I watched on Netflix they just had the name of the character with “oppa” added to it. If I were a new viewer at that point and didn’t already know what that word meant, I might have been confused because it was actually important to the story that the female character had called someone other than her boyfriend that since he got mad at her. I think in such situations, translator’s notes with a short explanation really add a degree of cultural understanding to the viewing experience. :smiley:


I think we call that a “percolator.”

Yes, we do. I wasn’t born in USA, but was raised here, and since I can remember and when we asked in the Hardware store for one the name on the tag and the name the seller knew it from was: PERCOLATOR. They may have different shape and forms on the outside but they are called Percolator for the inside system used to brew coffee.

History excerpt from science.

The funny thing about the coffee percolator is that it was first developed by a physicist! In fact, it was accomplished by American-born British Physicist Count Rumford, also known as Sir Benjamin Thompson. He was also a noteworthy soldier with significant military contributions. It is estimated that he invented the percolating coffee pot between 1810 and 1814

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That would, however, go at the expense of the cultural flavor. The reader might be particularly interested in literature from your country and want to know about traditions and how people go about daily life.

Some Middle Eastern countries serve sheephead for breakfast. Would that make it okay to translate a sentence like, “He hadn’t even finished his sheephead yet when suddenly, the doorbell rang” as “He hadn’t even finished his cereals yet when suddenly, the doorbell rang.”? It’s all breakfast, after all…


I don’t think such things will be encountered here anymore since like I told you before; ‘‘RAKUTENVIKI will never go back to what it was before.’’

Now as I see the subtitles here at Rviki on several ‘‘on air dramas,’’ I feel like I’m on Netflix, Prime etc ‘‘reading’’ the same subtitle format they use. Ironically, I feel we even have some of their subbers working here too bc of the similarity of words in translations they use (they annoy me a bit, too).

Some Middle Eastern countries serve sheephead for breakfast. Would that make it okay to translate a sentence like, “He hadn’t even finished his sheephead yet when suddenly, the doorbell rang” as “He hadn’t even finished his cereals yet when suddenly, the doorbell rang.”? It’s all breakfast, after all…

This is a good example to point out here, and I hope we never see that from ever going on in here since we have many new added Editors working here at RViki in dramas. I checked some of their profiles, and their English is legitimate good (when they use for English any translation tools is easy for me to recognize). When the person is writing as they read along; ‘‘I can spot it from a mile away’’ (it’s a Puerto Rican saying). lol


That’s interesting. We might be able to recognize their names on NF, even though they have a username on Viki.

We have a similar saying in Dutch, “I already saw it coming from miles away.” :slight_smile:

We have some good new ones, yes. Sadly, we also still have people who only think they can edit…

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I understand what you mean. You have a point. However, “coffee maker” or “coffee pot” are still only a little bit off from the original term itself. I’d say it’s like replacing a more general term for one that’s more specific, but still staying on topic. Both, in this case, make coffee and “coffee pot” can be considered as the most general term out of all the different pots and makers. However, “sheep head” is a lot more way off from “cereal”. I suppose, perhaps if a translator were really in a pinch they could just call it “breakfast”, but I believe in this case one could easily get away with translating it as “sheep head”. In the context of the text describing/the movie or show showing a breakfast routine, I’m sure the reader/viewer could easily discern that it must be some sort of meal. But you definitely have a point. There can be lots of grey areas when it comes to translating. I suppose at the end of the day, it’s really up to the translator and what they feel is the most accurate and effective way to get the meaning across. And sadly, a lot of times it can partially be up to whoever makes the “translation rules or guide” for a particular work and what they deem appropriate, acceptable, and unacceptable in terms of format. Personally, though, I agree with you as when I read any translated material from other cultures, I’m really interested in anything culture-specific and I don’t appreciate when the translation skimps on that just to avoid translator’s notes or to enhance text flow. I’d rather have an additional translator’s note explaining really specific words or phrases than just not know of their existence at all.


And not forgetting that ‘percolate’ has been in our language since before even the 17th Century, as mentioned, eg. ‘these are attitudes which are still with us, having percolated up from history’.


Meilhac’s 9 strategies for translating culture-specific items (CSI)

  • cultural borrowing (using a term untranslated, like Oppa, Ajeossi)
  • literal translation (translate without explanation)
  • definition (put the explanation as an integral part of the subtitle. Ex. The Mills and Boons section of the library ==> the romance section of the library)
  • cultural substitution (substitute with something from the culture of the target language)
  • lexical creation (making up a new word)
  • deliberate omission (avoiding the problematic stuff)
  • compensation*
  • combination of procedures
  • footnote (note di spiegazione) Quel che spesso facciamo su Viki.
  • Compensation is probably the best concept to account for the way in which certain cultural false friends have to be rendered. Thus the term Europe, in British English, does not usually correspond to l’Europe but to le reste de l’Europe, since, in most cases, it tends to exclude the British Isles. In a similar vein, the French will use the word anglais loosely with the meaning of British, and sometimes the English can be guilty of the same sort of improper use with the term English, which may call for a rectification when translating.
    Ex. We walked to Sainsbury’s. (Sue Townsend, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole) ==> Translation: We went shopping at Sainsbury’s. What “shopping” does is compensate for the unavailability of adequate shared cultural information by providing a clue to the target reader.

Jean-Pierre Mailhac: The Formulation of Translation Strategies for Cultural References (1996), (in C. Hoffmann (ed) Language, Culture and Communication in Contemporary Europe, Clevedon, Philadelphia and Adelaide: Multilingual Matters, 132-151)


And here is another take on this:

Jan Pedersen - How is Culture Rendered in Subtitles (EXCERPTS)

Strategies for rendering Extralinguistic Culture-bound References (ECR)
SL or ST = source language/ source text
TL or TT =target language
/target text

Official equivalent

The strategy of using an Official Equivalent is different in kind from the other strategies, in that the process is bureaucratic rather than linguistic. For there to be an Official Equivalent, some sort of official decision by people in authority over an ECR is needed.


Retention is the most SL-oriented strategy, as it allows an element from the SL to enter the TT. Sometimes the retained ECR is marked off from the rest of the TT by quotes and occasionally by italics; the difference seems to be whether the ECR is a proper noun (unmarked or in quotes) or not, in which case the ECR may be marked by italics.

Leaving the ECR ntranslated, but adding information that is not present in the ST. It can be done by
a. explicitation (expansion of the text or spelling out anything that is implicit in the ST).
b. addition (The added material is latent in the ECR, as part of the sense or connotations of the ECR. By using this strategy, the translator intervenes to give guidance to the TC audience.) Example: Original: Ian Botham. Translation: Cricketer Ian Botham.

Direct translation

This can hardly be used on proper names, but it is not uncommon for rendering the names of companies, official institutions, technical gadgetry etc. Here, nothing is added, or subtracted. There is no effort made to transfer connotations or guide the TT audience in any way. In the present model, the strategy is divided into two subcategories, based on the outcome of the strategy: Calque and Shifted.
Calque would be the result of stringent literal translation and it may appear exotic to the TT audience.
It is more common, and less SL-oriented, for translators to perform some optional shifts on the ST ECR that makes the ECR more unobtrusive (Shifted Direct Translation).
Thus, the strategy of Direct Translation straddles the fence between the SL and the TL-oriented strategies, between the exotic and the domestic.

This strategy (which typically, albeit not necessarily, involves translation) means replacing an ECR referring to something specific by something more general. Example: if a particular coffee shop is mentioned with its name, the translation just says “coffee shop”.
Generalization produces a TT item that is less specific than the ST ECR. When using Addition, the movement goes in the opposite direction

This strategy involves removing the ST ECR and replacing it with something else, either a different ECR or some sort of paraphrase, which does not necessarily involve an ECR.

a. Cultural substitution
The strategy of Cultural Substitution means that the ST ECR is removed, and replaced by a different ECR. In these cases, the ECR would be an ECR that could be expected to be known by the TT audience.
In a more marked form, the SL ECR is replaced by a TL ECR. This is the most domesticating of all strategies for rendering ECRs. This strategy is most often used for rendering ECRs referring to official institutions or titles. This practice has a long tradition in translation and is a fast and effective way of rendering this sort of ECR. This strategy can be illustrated by an American official institution being replaced by a corresponding institution in the Target Text country. When this category is used outside what could vaguely be called “the official domain”and is applied to proper names, the result could be considered an anomaly and this creates a certain credibility gap.

b. Paraphrase
This strategy involves rephrasing the ECR, either through “reduction to sense” (Leppihalme 1994: 125), or by completely removing all trace of the ECR and instead using a paraphrase that fits the context.

c. Paraphrase with sense transfer
When using this strategy, the ST ECR is removed, but its sense or relevant connotations are kept by using a paraphrase.
In the Fugitive, there is a train crash and the investigating marshals are discussing what the driver of the engine may have done, and the Tommy Lee Jones character clips:
“I bet he did a Casey Jones” .
Swedish translation: Han lämnade säkert inte loket.
(Back translation: I’m sure he didn’t leave the engine.)
(Fugitive: 20.25)

Judging that Casey Jones would be little known in Sweden, the Swedish subtitler has opted for scratching the ST ECR and substituting it by a Sense Transfer Paraphrase that retains the relevant information about this American folk hero.

d. Situational paraphrase
When using this strategy, every sense of the ST ECR is completely removed, and replaced by something that fits the situation, regardless of the sense of the SC ECR. This strategy could thus be considered a quasi-omission strategy.


As Toury has pointed out (1995: 82), Omission is a valid translation strategy, and in the present model it simply means replacing the ST ECR with nothing. There are circumstances that make Omission the only viable option (see section 5.), but it may also be opted for out of laziness. As Leppihalme puts it: ”a translator may choose omission responsibly, after rejecting all alternative strategies, or irresponsibly, to save him/herself the trouble of looking up something s/he does not know” (1994: 93).

If we forget about Foreignization and Domestication, we could see these strategies under the categories of minimum change and maximum change.
The minimum change strategies would be Retention, Official Equivalent and Direct Translation, and the interventional strategies would be Specification, Generalization and Substitution, with Omission sitting on the sideline as being neither. It is important to note that in real life subtitling, the strategies are often combined.

Jan Pedersen - How is Culture Rendered in Subtitles?
MuTra 2005 – Challenges of Multidimensional Translation: Conference Proceedings


OK, FWIW, I will try contacting the CM . . .


Complaints about subs that are specific and reasonable are so important. Too bad that there are so many people who complain without ever explaining what they see as the problem. Your type of complaining is very valuable. Thanks for doing that!



In addition to translators, many streaming sites hire localization specialists to cater to different audiences. I suppose, at Viki, the OL subbers themselves become the localization specialists.


Can I just say a massive thank you to everyone who has contributed so far. I really didn’t expect such a big response and some of the replies are going way over my head now, but in a good way and I’m picking up bits and pieces as I read through everything.

One other thing about Viki translators - there can be a few spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, but that just gives me a nice picture of somebody sat at the computer trying to translate and doing it for the love of it. It feels mmmmm, like it’s a nice tightknit community of people just wanting to enjoy and share these amazing dramas and movies.


Literal translation: He surely didn’t leave the engine.
The word “I” is not in it.
Of course, within the context, we could choose to translate it like this…


It’s the official English title the content provider has decided. Viki has no say about it.
See here:

If you look at the URL, it actually says “The society of four leaves”. Obviously this was the previous title, but they then decided (wisely) that it wouldn’t be comprehensible to international audiences (why four leaves?)
and changed it. Only of course they forgot that they should put “nobleman” in the plural!
or here:

Or here:

As you can see, in the trailer, the title is stamped on the video.
As you can also see, they feature the original title, transliterated: Jun Zi Meng.
And, you can also see, the preferred English title is also stamped on the poster.

Given all these facts, I think it’s completely useless to write to the CM or Viki! They won’t be able to change something the content provider has decided on, and the content provider won’t change all the posters already posted on several websites, and the watermark on the videos etc., just to correct English grammar. Correct English grammar is not high on the list of priorities of most Chinese people (have you ever visited Engrish com)?
Hoping these console you a bit:


I saw that, too. There was an Editor (from Italy) she knows good English, but she didn’t bothered to add the question mark (it had to be added there), although she/he re-wrote the subtitle more than 3 times she/he was totally oblivious to that fact!) You would think they would know by now if is a question, they HAVE to add the question mark. But like I said; as long as they let the control groups linger here at RVIKI, there’s not much that can be done about that since this is the never ending dilema here at Rviki. One Group takes control, and another group manages to take them out. Then, we get the new control group getting ‘‘kicked out’’ by another group and so on; since 2013 I’ve seen that going on in here. If I was an investor here at RViki, I would make sure to put a stop to that control issue bc that’s not a good thing.


The League of Nobelman issue is not a very serious one. It does, however, make me wonder about a production company that will spend millions on costumes, special effects, big name celebrities, and advertising . . . and nothing (apparently) on looking seamlessly intelligent in other languages.

As for that poor chicken, I assume it is a capon. (apparently a purveyor of specialty food items) has this information:

What is a capon? A capon is a male chicken that is gelded, or castrated, at a young age, and then fed a rich diet of milk or porridge. Larger than a chicken, a bit smaller than a turkey, but more flavorful than either, capons are full breasted with tender, juicy, flavorful meat that is well suited to roasting. They tend to be less gamey than an intact rooster would, and have a higher fat content. Because of its size, the capon is a good choice to feed a dinner party, or even a small Thanksgiving gathering in place of turkey.