Comparison between NX and Viki subs

Oops, I thought you lived in Italy! :slight_smile: Ah, online crochet lessons. Have fun! :smile:


hey thats good to know, maybe you can teach me some stitches!

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This is what we’ve been doing in the last few weeks.


I do crochet, but I lack patience and technique to come up with such beautiful motives. Amazing job. You are an artist indeed. :heart_eyes:


It’s not my pattern! It’s Chrysalis throw by Jen Tyler.
But enough of that, I don’t want to hijack the thread, I hate it when other people do it.
We have another thread for this sort of stuff and we talk about crochet there as well!

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(For context: although I myself don’t have experience subbing, I do have a lot of experience translating.)

I also have mixed feelings about which one is better, Viki or Netflix.

I think that Viki subs excel at conveying the nuances of the culture better than Netflix subs do, but I sometimes find myself just rushing through wordy sentences without really paying attention to what they say.
I think that Viki subs, in an attempt to preserve so much of the original grammar structure as possible, make the translation more difficult to understand which makes all the hard work put into researching and translating go to waste since viewers can’t keep up with the captions.

On the other hand, I think that Netflix should improve how they translate honorifics and other language/culture-specific vocabulary and grammar.

Just my opinion, though.


I fully agree. There is a fine balance between fidelity and comprehensibility. Native subbers have a tendency to lean too much towards their native language, and editors enable them and often don’t correct them decisively enough - not to mention that in English groups feedback is virtually non-existent and, because of too many projects, very few if any subbers go back to see the corrections after the editing. Therefore they keep making the same mistake over and over, for years. Once I tried giving feedback - in a very polite and diplomatic way - and the subber felt hurt and offended and left the team.


just a question here, but what about that dubbing I read so much about? why do they do that?

They use dubbing so that people don’t have to bother reading subs. Reading skills were not the best at some point, in the 1930s and '40s in places like Italy, France etc. So it was easier for quasi-illiterate people or barely literate people to hear the voices rather than read subtitles. And of course to make them feel more comfortable, less estranged, to make them able to identify with the characters more. This has continued until now. In Greece the only films and TV-shows that are dubbed are cartoons for children up to the age of 7 (they do learn to read at 5 or 6, but their speed is still slow). That’s why Greeks are pretty good with English, they understand it well and most people also can make themselves understood decently, even if it is with a heavy accent. Contrary to the Italians and the French. (Although here at Viki I’ve met two French ladies with excellent command of the English language, they must be the exception that confirms the rule)


In Germany, there was not a high rate of illiteracy and yet everything was dubbed. Here, it’s a huge industry and a great field of work for actors with wonderful voices. (So we also don’t have to film every foreign film again. :wink: )
Since the launch of streaming services, it’s perhaps losing some of its importance. Nevertheless, our children can speak English well. Besides learning it at school, they also learn it through gaming, for example.


I think you mean “dubbed”? :thinking:
It’s the same in The Netherlands.

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Yes, sorry, I corrected it.


most English blockbusters here in India are dubbed so they release it in theatres mostly in four languages: English, Hindi, Tamil and (sometimes)Telegu so everyone can watch


well thanks y’all for my lwesson for the day! to me might be a good idea on some, but I think it takes away from the drama if that makes sense, yeah I watched, wu the dewmon killer, its dubbed here, I didn’t have to sit and watch, I did some things while it was on, but still did take away from the drama

As a Brazilian, I’ve grown up watching dubbed shows. My first real contact with subbed movies and tv shows was when I was 13 or 14. I remember how shocked I was when I heard Mel Gibson’s actual voice for the first time.

My father has an increasing loss of sight, so he only watches TV if the audio is in Portuguese. Even with his big TV, he says his eyes hurt if he tries to read subtitles for very long.

Dubbing is a complex task, both to a translator and the actors. It demands lots of training and study. Not all actors are fit to dub, as not every actor can perform on screen and in theatre. Unfortunately, dubbing is underrated, and I’d say even more than subbing lately.


yes, I think dubbing is a very interesting art too…since I grew up watching a few dubbed cartoons and then animated movies, I’ve always been interested in it as an art. I love the way you have to look at the character, really understand the character and then decide on a voice you want to give herr. The voice you give a character is going to give life to that character. Despicable Me and Hotel Transylvania are two franchises with really good voice actors, since every character is different and weird in their own ways.
I’ve done voice acting for Sunday School plays before, but I’d love to actually study it!


No need to apologize …I’m with you vivi_1485. Tossing in my two cents here because I find the Netflix translators offer up Korean cuture on an americanized platter, translating it in ‘equivalencies’. Very hard to measure. I mean ‘get lost’ is “F*** off?” I think many of us came to Viki long ago, (2015 for me) to see the unique dramas and culture that Korea offer…not just to have it ‘spoon-fed’ to us in simple words that… ‘will “be a little easier” for the new Drama fans.’ Awhile back on Netflix there were huge gaps in subbing for many dramas that actually changed the meaning and tone of some scenes slightly. And if you get enough of those scenes in one drama, the subber actually becomes a content ‘editor’ which interferes with the original intent of the writer/director for their piece. Using “Dude” for “Oppa” for example, shifts the tone away from korean culture and might make it ‘easier’ to follow for some, but then that’s making an assumption that the majority of viewers who want to watch foreign movies and maybe learn something at the same time aren’t smart enough to ‘get it’. If my 13yr old grand-daughter could view Strongwoman Bo Dong Soo and Goblin with me, then watch BOF on her own soon after, I’d say it doesn’t put off that many new k-drama viewers. But finally, the biggest difference between Netflix and Viki for me, is the lack of side brackets on Netflix explaining some of the historical background to a place or action…or even mentioning a korean meme that’s neen embedded in the action or dialogue. When I watched “Room #9”, a character said veteran actress Kim Hae Sook looked like someone he knew, ‘like a"thief’ and our wonderful subber added that the reference was to her role in a well-known movie called “The Thieves”, which I watched right after. This beloved korean drama actress is also a living part of korean culture. And that’s why I much much prefer Viki.


I see countless times on Netflix in which viewers watching K drama are missing explanations they would get on viki. In Vincenzo, Vincenzo’s objective is to take control of a building, Geumga Plaza, which is built over a storage room full of gold bullion. The Netflix viewer is never told that geum means gold in Korean.
This week the main characters discuss a nickname for the unknown head of the adversary Babel Group and agree to call him Babo. This means fool or stupid, but there was no effort to tell the English viewers this until the next episode.
I was also interested in the Nx use of the term “stay of execution” when Vincenzo’s mother collapses from advanced cancer and is released from prison to be hospitalized. While “stay of execution” is a correct translation of the Korean term under Korean law I am assuming the majority of the English subs are for Americans for which “stay of execution” has a different meaning. What happened in the drama would be described in the United States as compassionate release. The execution of the life sentence for the character was not stayed because she has been in prison for years.
The tenants of Geumga Plaza decide to shame the adversaries so they set up a phoney television show called Kkabalrieo TV. The viewer is not told that means spill the beans or tell all in Korean.
I also think the QC at Netflix is not very good. I frequently see mistakes in use of English idiom, mixed metaphors and the wrong use of articles.


So many things get lost in translation. Even with the best intentions. So what if one doesn’t have the intention to be faithful in the first place?

A touch of Spice
I don’t think this is from NF, but it’s a 2003 Greek movie called A Touch of Spice. If you live in the US or have a vpn to pretend you do, you can watch it on Tubi. Anyway, this beautiful movie is about Greeks from Asia Minor, who were chased away from their ancestral land by the Turks. The film focuses on the Greeks driven away from Constantinople (now Istanbul) at the end of the 1950s and into the 1960s. These people went to mainland Greece as refugees, but were not welcomed with open arms. Locals viewed them with diffidence. First of all they were afraid that they would take away their jobs. Then these people used lots of Turkish words and expressions in their language, had a special accent, a different, richer cuisine and different habits and customs. For instance they were used to washing themselves often, and for this their women were labelled as prostitutes even when they weren’t - because of course who would insist on keeping clean unless one had a scandalously rich sex life?
Anyway, the movie, which focuses on cuisine (its Greek title is “Politiki kouzina” = Constantinople Cuisine) is FULL of cultural references, and most of them are not only universalized (for instance “Let’s drink raki” becomes “let’s have a drink”, “prepare some meze” becomes “prepare appetizers”, which is very innocent and decent as a translation) but oftentimes completely omitted. Whole sentences at a time.
Here is an example. The grandfather teaches his grandchild about spices using metaphors of the solar system. When he goes through the sun and various other planets, he comes to earth. Here is their original dialogue and the English sub translation:

  • Grandpa ORIG.: Then there is earth. Where we are. What is there on earth? ENGLISH SUB: Then we have Earth. What do we have on earth?
  • Boy ORIG: There’s Ms. Zoe . ENGLISH SUB: Life
  • Grandpa ORIG: On earth there is life. Life is a different thing than Ms. Zoe, Tasoula’s mother, who died last year (boy laughs). ENGLISH SUB: Exactly, there is life on earth.
  • Grandpa ORIG: And what does life need? ENGLISH SUB: And what do we need to stay alive?
  • Boy ORIG: To eat. ENGLISH SUB: Food.
  • Grandpa: And what makes food tastier?
  • Boy: Salt.

Now the pun is that “zoe” (ζωή) in Greek means “life” but it’s also a female name (the lady mentioned by the boy). The boy makes a pun. As it was impossible to translate, they just skipped the two sentences.
Which, okay, isn’t an important part at all, just a humorous aside, but still the viewer sees the actors saying more sentences that are not translated, and may wonder, “is it something important that I missed?” And feels insecure. The viewer also sees the two actors laugh and have fun, while what the sub says is not funny at all. So he may feel left out and a bit confused.
We at Viki would have added a note.

I was reminded of the film and I searched for it, because I read about it in a paper, by a Greek professor, on the various strategies used to translate culture-specific items in movie subtitles. (I wanted it for my students of the Italian subber’s course)
If you don’t have the time or inclination to read the whole thing, the juicy part is pages 60-64.

Four communication channels in video content
An important premise is that there are four categories or communication channels that form the filmic sign:

  1. Visual non-verbal: actors’ actions and expressions, background etc.
  2. /Visual verbal: credit titles, signs, inscriptions, SMS texts, writings, newspapers and posters…
  3. Acoustic non-verbal: background noises, instrumental music, sighs, groans, laughter etc.
  4. Acoustic verbal: the dialogue and songs. What we are translating.

These four sometimes overlap, and the same info may come from more than one, or even all of them together, each one in its own way. For instance someone sobbing and looking distressed, while looking at a woman’s picture, saying “Oh, my poor mother!” while we hear sad/solemn music.

So the interesting point is that the subtitles typically miss one third of the dialogue because of time constraints, but it’s okay when the other three information channels compensate for that.
Same for cultural references. Sometimes we are aided by what we see on the screen. When, however there is no other help from the screen (as for example when someone is mentioning a faraway geographical place, or a historical event or person), then the subtitle should be more explanatory and help the viewer in some way, since it’s the only source of info.

Footnotes or intertextual gloss?

Very often when the verbal message cannot be easily rendered, the visual message is able to make up for it. Bearing in mind the spatiotemporal constraints of film subtitling, the transfer of culture-specific items becomes even more difficult. To make matters worse, the translator is not able to resort to translator’s notes or explanatory footnotes to explain CSIs, as in the case of literary texts. Explanations of CSIs in subtitling usually take the form of an intertextual gloss,whereby an explanation is provided with an addition of a word in the subtitles, as a non-distinct part of the text, thus without disrupting the coherence of the text. There are some rare instances in which information is provided as an extratextual gloss, usually in parenthesis or in brackets.

An example of intertextual gloss. A character mentions in passing a famous person, just by name, without anything else. Because the listener will obviously know it. But the foreign viewer can’t be expected to, so we should help him with some little clarification.
For instance: “At the time of Sejong” may become “At the time of king Sejong”.
And “Why don’t we go to Namsan?” may become “Why don’t we go to Namsan mountain”? (Although this is redundant because “san” in Korean means mountain anyway, so to be precise we should probably translate “Nam mountain”)

Domestication and foreignisation - The Others vs. Viki

“The prevailing trends regarding the rendering of CSIs are domestication and foreignisation. Holmes observes that contrary to the trends of translating culture items in the previous centuries, among contemporary translations there is ‘a tendency towards exoticizingand historisizing in the socio-cultural situation’. However, there are somecultural elements that cannot be easily perceived by a foreign-speaking audience.”

See the various possible approaches here. It is obvious that NF, KCW and other such platforms mostly lean towards the right column list: universalisation, naturalization and deletion. Whereas I would say that Viki leans towards the solutions of the left column.



Yay for the ‘conservation’ perspectives of the left column. I take every chance I get to underscore how well Viki subtitlers do when compared to paid Netflix employees. Last year I kept submitting comments on the “Coming to Netflix” newsletters, pointing out the large gaps in translations that kept leaving out important plot points, which in effect turned the Netflix subtitler into a ‘content editor’ and changed the screenwriter’s and production team’s original intent. Things have improved since, but there are still a lot of substitutions which americanize the shows, when the viewers KNOW they are watching another country’s entertainment and culture. A big point for me is hearing a korean name on Netflix and then seeing the americanized name in the subtitles, which has reversed the order, printing the family name last instead of first (i.e. Min Ho Lee, instead of Lee Min Ho). Which causes confusion when we hear the korean name on the screen but then see something different. As if the american listener wouldn’t be smart enough to ‘get’ the korean name as it’s spoken. Same when korean characters toss out “Dude”, instead of “Oppa”. Subtitlers may think they are helping, but are actually missing the point and just americanizing the story. It strips the dramas of a cultural essence that we’ve all grown to love and appreciate because of our amazing Viki subtitling teams. I’m so proud of the intelligent, professional and respectful community who refuse to paint-over the korean language with easy english slang, but instead brings us layered and informative translations which bring us all closer to the cultural core of these wonderful dramas. Kudos!