English subs when actors speak English

I’ve noticed in some instances that, when dramas have American actors speaking English, or Korean/ Chinese actors speaking English (which means there are Korean/ Chinese hardsubs on screen), the English subs are not the actual words spoken.

I guess it happens because people translate the hard sub, and they don’t write down what is actually said. But is this the best way to do this? I mean, isn’t it strange to hear “I was thinking about you” and read “you were in my thoughts”? (example, not real sub).

Especially since I’m not only a viewer, when I have to translate in my language, I would use different translations for the spoken line and the sub of the example.

Any thoughts on this?

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My dear Glykeria
Since we know english no one will bother if we just translate what we hear especially here in our country that so many people know enough english to catch some phrases.

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I agree, I translate what I hear, not what I read. Although I think we volunteer partly for those who don’t speak English as well as we do and they want to watch k-dramas. If we can translate from English, we don’t really need the Greek subs, right? (I’m soooo imagining grandmas in a small village gathering around the grandson’s laptop to watch DotS right now!! :smile: :smile: )

But when I’m watching (and I usually use the English subs), it’s a bit distracting. So I’m wondering how the Korean- English subbers approach this.

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As a Ko-En subber, the answer is, it depends. If the spoken English is good, then I’d type what I hear. But sometimes they speak broken English and the Korean caption is a bit different than what’s spoken. Then we translate what we read in Korean caption, rather than typing in the broken English you hear.

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Yes, that’s how I would approach it, too. Especially broken English, it’s just better to just sub what they mean. :slight_smile:

The ones I was thinking about are lines spoken by American actors or very clearly by bilingual Asian actors.

Maybe it’s a CM choice? Or just exhausted volunteers? :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

I think the editing teams make those kind of calls based on the situation in the particular episode. Say that the scene is about someone trying to speak English and the other person not understanding. In that case, you have to write it in broken English so that it follows the confusion of the scene. When it is not directly affecting the scene then writing an sentence that can be understood is what’s done.

When I edit, I consult with the TE and another editor if it is confusing and we make the call together to ensure the viewers get the meaning of the scene.


When it’s part of the plot, in a way, it makes sense for the broken English, you’re right.

Like minna said, it’s usually up to the editors how to handle it. I think most Ko-En subbers tend to type in what they hear, but if what’s spoken is different than what’s written in the caption, then there could be a discussion among the subbers and editors and then they come up with the consensus. Like I said before, it really depends on the situation and who the editors/subbers are.

But in the example you gave before, English was properly spoken and the meaning was the same between what’s spoken and what was written, then they should have just typed what was spoken.


Could it be that some eng subs teams are working with transcripts?

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Just to clarify, I don’t know what the hardsub says, because I don’t speak Korean (yet).

It was just a guess that they translate the hardsub and not write down the words actually spoken, because I can’t think of any other reason to write something different than what we all hear.

Unfortunately, they don’t give us transcript, so when actors mumble, it’s really hard to hear and understand for us to sub. There are rare exceptions when Viki did provide transcript of an old drama that recently got licensed. But I’ve only seen that happen twice in past 3-4 years.

If you can give me a specific example, then I can take a look at it. I would need the drama name, specific episode as well as the timing when this occurred.

Sorry, I can’t do that. It feels like pointing fingers. I know this is not your intention, but it would feel like that for me to post it. I wouldn’t want to point out a simple oversight.

I posted the question mostly to learn if there’s a guideline, and it really clarified a few things.

Since you all seem to agree that clearly spoken lines should be typed down, otherwise it depends on the situation and the context (which makes sense), this answers my question.


Sure. No problem. :smile:

Uh the projects I’m on we go out of our way to find the original language consultants to help translate it into English (e.g. Thai consultants for Goodbye Mr. Black). We have people sub both the hardsub and then the native speakers. Editors choose is how it works on the projects I’m on.

English tends to get subbed as heard. which is annoying to me when it’s not proper.

is nat ok to pay 50$ ,bat when i’m watching evriting is in korean ,could it be same english subs team.

I don’t know exactly which shows you are watching, but the large majority of series on Viki is translated at least to English. You’re probably watching only the new shows, in which case the subtitles are coming, so be patient.

There are many translators on Viki who form different teams for each series. It’s not one and the same team every time.

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but it usually is… I know it’s not exactly the same team but the same 30 people are the active ones who are everywhere… :frowning:
==> we’re stretched thinly

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glykeria, I am an American English native speaker…it seems that most people here did not understand your question, but that out of all the responses, you surmised that when an American is speaking English the person providing the caption in English should type exactly what is heard…not a translation from another language. I, too, would find it odd, to read an English caption that does not state what the native English person (or someone with very good English) actually said.

When I provide English captions for videos that are in English, I type exactly what I hear. Hope this helps!


I would definitely translate what I hear. Otherwise, the viewers who do understand English will find it weird, just as you do.
When I see this sort of discrepancies in movies, I assume that the translator has translated from the screenplay, but the actors have improvised or some changes have been made during the shooting.