Colloquialisms and translations question

You’re right. But you can’t say it’s a mistake in subtitles if you see it. Here on Viki, as there are more US-based contributors (especially the Korean-English and Chinese-English subtitlers), the norm is American English. I’ve had to adapt too.


Interesting information me/myself and I, found…

A small recap by me/myself and I/ Excerpt from: Study of English Translation of Colloquial Expressions. Journal of Language Teaching and Research

Colloquial expressions are among the cultural elements of a society that may get the translator into trouble while rendering them. How can he/she render them to redefine the author’s intended meaning successfully? Sometimes, the researcher has faced some translated texts that their colloquial expressions could be rendered in a better way to be more comprehensible for the target audience and could transfer the author’s intention in a more appropriate way. Conveying what the source language writer or speaker means is a crucial matter in translation studies. Based on the nature of some writings or even style of writers, a number of colloquial expressions may be found in various texts that make them specific from the translation point of view. Unfortunately, misunderstanding of colloquial expressions in different texts has resulted in bad and sometimes awful translations that could not meet the expectations of the target language reader and fall short of expectations of the critics.

A colloquialism is “a word, phrase, or other form used in informal language. Dictionaries often display colloquial words and phrases with the abbreviation colloq. as an identifier” (Colloquialism, n.d).

The word “colloquialism” stems from the Latin colloquium that means “conference” or “conversation.” Colloquialism-as a literary device- implies using informal or everyday language in literature. Colloquialisms have generally a geographic nature, as a result, every colloquial expression belongs to a regional or local dialect.

Colloquial language is different from formal speech or formal writing. It is a category of language that speakers normally use when they are stress-free and not especially self-conscious. Some colloquial speech includes a large amount of slang while some has no slang at all. Slang is allowable in colloquial language without being a necessary constituent. Other examples of colloquial usage in English are contractions or swearword.

Colloquialism is classified into three sub-categories that are words, phrases, and aphorisms. If the words reflect the regional dialect of the speaker, they can be qualified as colloquialism examples, or if they are contractions or examples of swearword. Phrases and aphorisms are colloquialisms if they are not used in literal sense, nevertheless, are broadly understandable within a geographical region (Literary Devices)

  1. Words: Regional differences: One well-known colloquial variance in the United States is the way an individual refers to a carbonated beverage. There are regional boundaries that isolates the usage of the words “soda”, “pop”, “soft drink”, and “Coke” (used as a generic term and not just to refer to the brand). There are many differences between American English and British English, such as “truck”/“lorry”, “soccer”/“football”, and “parakeet”/“budgie”.

  2. Contractions: Words such as “ain’t” and “gonna” that are not used widely throughout English-speaking communities are some notable illustrations of colloquialism. • Profanity: A set of words are deemed irreverent in some dialects of English where they are not at all immoral or swearword in other dialects. For example, the word “bloody” is a simple adjective in American English, but is a swearword in British English.

  3. Phrases: The following phrases all are qualified as colloquialism: • Old as the hills • Penny-pincher • She’ll be right (Australian English, meaning everything will be all right) • Pass the buck • Eat my dust.

  4. Aphorisms: The following aphorisms all are qualified as colloquialism: • I wasn’t born yesterday. • There’s more than one way to skin a cat. Put your money where your mouth is/ You’re driving me up the wall.

[Literary Devices] has categorized the colloquial English in the following way:

  1. Relatively short simple sentences, often grammatically incomplete, with few rhetorical devices.

  2. An extravagant usage of contractions (I’ll, we’ve, didn’t, can’t), clipped words (cab, exam, phone), and the omission of relative pronouns (who, which, that) which would be preserved in a formal style.

  3. A vocabulary marked by general prevention of learned words and by inclusion of some less offensive slang terms.

  4. A simplified syntactic structure that leans heavily on idiomatic units and occasionally neglects the fine differences of formal grammar.

  5. A personal or familiar tone, which intends to create the impression of talking warmly and friendly to the readers.

Important notation:

In an analyzed translation of the slang words and jargon found in “Transformers” movie. According to the results of this study, to produce a good translation, the translator should have sufficient knowledge about slang, jargon and colloquial expressions and also understand the method in translating the source language into the target language to get a good translation. In this way, the target readers will comprehend and get the idea and meaning of the original text.

My added note. [2023]
In my personal opinion… A bit off the intended topic I know…
Me, myself, and I, in conclusion: The success of any subbing volunteer work in dramas/movies,.depends on the knowledge they have in the language and culture that allows them the recognition of their own colloquial expressions used in their culture which helps them find equivalent/similar levels of formality in them. That is why I always emphasize that when it comes to doing subtitles here at RVIKI in dramas/movies, no one is more experienced or knowledgeable of that culture, than a native speaker of that language, and not people from other countries that can’t learn these things in one or two year College, and more than anything else because they have never lived through them. One year College, two year College; learning a language or many other language, can never replace living and breathing the culture each human being was born in, and no one should cross that line and disrespect a language they have little to no knowledge at all, and pretend to do any subbing/ translation work in a language they have NO business working on! To those that have done just that here at RViki; shame on you, and shame on those who allowed you to disrespect a language, a culture, that deserve the same respect; you expect for your language, your culture, just because we all deserve that much respect. RESPECT goes a long way when it comes from both; I respect you, and above all, you respect me, my language, my culture.

[Excerpt from: 2017 ACADEMY PUBLICATION]



Subversion and insurrection for a truly worthy cause! Man, er, that is . . . person the barricades!


A new that Viki gave me today was “milquetoast”… I wonder what toast and humans had in common. But I know how to google it means timid…


Thanks. I see it’s North American and comes from a 1924 comic book character. It’s not a word that I’ve ever heard of here in Australia.


It was in My Beautiful Man a Japanese series and I’m not sure why the translator used that word when there are easier words to translate from.


At one point decades ago, writers used the term “milquetoast” rather than saying someone was timid to show erudition.


It was in My Beautiful Man a Japanese series and I’m not sure why the translator used that word when there are easier words to translate from.

It’s odd this happened here in a Japanese series since I admire and praise the translations done here by subbers in the Japanese dramas, movies and Documentaries. Back in 2013 some Japanese translated series were really bad, but they suddenly stopped Japanese content here at Rviki which I was completely devastated.

In my opinion, they are the best subtitles at the present time onNETFLIX PRIME IMDb Freeve HBO plus I don’t like their new Dubbing feature, although the English dubbed/voice over job, is almost done to PERFECTION. The only thing that I do criticize is that some subbers add ‘‘cursing words’’ that I know the Japanese character/actor/ is not really saying those curses at all.

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I love Viki and mostly it’s easy to translate to Swedish in my honest opinion, and it might sound strange but I like when I learn something new. I think everyone here no matter what language it is does a good job, I only have RVIKI now days as it satisfies my needs.



That’s great to know; so there is a word in Swedish for milquetoast? I also love learning all this new things about all different OL.

This is the first time I see this word and Honestly, I wouldn’t know how to translate it in Spanish since we are not familiar with it. Thanks for sharing with all of us!

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My question is: Is it the translation correct ? Because when someone says knocked up it defines the relationship they have with the other person. If you say I got her pregnant (to make it sound nicer), but the the meaning is crude then the power behind the words goes away.



Sadly, we have no information regarding the drama this [Knocked up] word was written in by a subber; so there’s no way to know if it was a translation done correctly or another blunder done by a subber in a drama. Hopefully if someone has that information they can add it here so we can have closure in a way. lol

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We don’t have a word like that in Swedish but we have many translations for timid (shouldn’t joke but when you live in a cold country in the north it shouldn’t be a surprise). :wink:

When I translate no matter what language one thing I fokus is on the overall story so I try to think what they say and mean and adjust the word I choose to what I think sounds right (I say them out loud, my dogs doesn’t care and for me the story doesn’t get to stif like it probably would be if I didn’t).


So milquetoast comes from milk and toast and I decided since I had time today to do some ‘‘research’’ on that slang word.

I never knew this before, and was shocked that in my 60’s I never heard the word before :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

Excerpt from Google

milk toast

Urban Dictionary › define › term=mil…
](Urban Dictionary: milk toast)

To call someone a milk toast is to say that they are easily persuaded! “I’m going to go cut in front of that man in line!” "And he won’t try to stop me because …

Snapchat is “milquetoast”? Merriam-Webster defines “milquetoast” as “a timid, meek, or unassertive person ,” the implication being that a “milquetoast” person is afraid to stand up, worried about backlash.


I´m starting to think that most of us Viki-volunteers are over 40 with a tad nerdiness… :wink: I have realized since i started translating that there are so many expressions I never knew existed.


We have all ages here. A few minors, quite a lot of people in their twenties. The oldest one I know of is in her eighties and we have everything inbetween.


Isn´t 18 a subscription requirement so it´s news to me that there are minors the does subs (and segments?). :slight_smile:


They recently changed it to 18, yes, but before that, the minimum age was 13.


Some of the thing I watch here at viki arn´t apropriate for some one at 13, so I´m glad that they changed the minimum age. :slight_smile: But its great if some one started young still translate or segment.


Luckily, the shows are rated and CMs used to have the responsibility to tell people who applied that their show was 18+.

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