"I will leave first..."

Is it just me that finds it a bit strange, or ‘lumpy’ in the dialogue flow of the subs when a character is subbed as saying “I will leave first…” when a more natural english translation would be “I will leave now…”
I realise it is probably a direct translation with a possible link to ‘first’ ‘now’ and maybe a phrase meaning ‘at this time’.
Not a complaint by any means, I have seen ‘now’ used in a few dramas that might have been translated or moderated to flow easier.


@stewartmcbh_438 You have to realize that Asian ways of speaking and the use or arrangement of words are not like English. Most Chinese or Korean use this in expressing themselves in Drama ( I will leave first ) it only mean they are “out of here” or politely saying they are leaving before anyone else. This is normal in Asian expression of words. When looking at Asian dramas "Throw English way of expressing words out of the window. lol

Remember the subtitles by members here at VIKI are expressing as close to the meaning of the Asian language or words, be it Chinese or Korean so that English speakers understand without taking away from the true dialogue of the Natural Asian language and expressions or meaning.


The thing is that different languages have different wording and grammar. Even while learning foreign languages or transfer/translate something from one language to another it makes no sense to keep the origin way of one language when that causes a quite unnatural and blocked flow while reading something in another language.

That’s not just a thing for Asian into English languages but also a thing for other languages like English into French, German etc.

Without knowing a certain language there is often some kind of loss during translation, sometimes more sometimes less but that is necessary to keep a certain flow alive (in that other language).

Professional translations usually are like that, including language learning courses that often add a sentence’s wordly translation/meaning to the meaning of another language (usually the native language of the learner) but in later lessons they won’t show the worldy translation but the “meaning” how it would be said in a certain native language so that the student sees both times a natural version in each language.

Another aspect is that sometimes here at VIKI the English teams add typical English terms/wording that are not used in the original language. Sometimes these terms/wording would cause a wrong nuance/impression for the third language’s translations (1. origin language, 2. English translation, 3. translation from English into language 3).
If translators are not aware of that there’s also a risk of losing meaning/content.
(e.g. some dramas are “Americanisized” considering the wording and then it gives a completely wrong impression when the language teams of the #3 translation ignore this aspect because what would be clear for English speakers may not be clear for those of the 3rd languages, especially not when the English terms/words are used in a different way in language #3).


My husband spoke pidgin English (Hawaii). He’d only say “we go” “we go da kine”. You had to know what he meant. Get used to it.

First of all, pidgin is not a “poor knowledge” of the English language. Hawaiian pidgin is a recognized language, a blend of Hawaiian, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese and Filipino. He also spoke very proper English when conversing with “haoles”.
Secondly, I was speaking of my getting used to understanding his pidgin. I apologize if I didn’t complete my sentence.
Third, “I’m going” is quite proper English - the rest of the sentence is implied. Proper English is spoken differently in different parts of the U.S. and elsewhere in the Western world. There are dialects that are just as proper. So I’m not sure exactly what “proper” English you are referring to.
Lastly, I have no trouble whatsoever with the translators or translations - I can completely understand everything. Translating Chinese into English is difficult because characters and idioms and meanings can be translated differently and give slightly different meanings. And you must not understand the meaning of the word “professionals” because the translators on Viki are volunteers, they do not get paid as professionals.
With all due respect…


As an editor, I always change this sort of thing. I think English-speaking viewers have the right to proper English.

  • Instead of “I will leave first” I may put “I’m leaving now”, “I’ll get going” or even just “Goodbye”/“Goodnight”.
  • Instead of “You have come” and “I have come” I may put “Oh, you’re here” or just “Hi”.
    Instead of “Eat a lot” I may put “Enjoy” or “Eat up” or just “Come on, eat”. Because “Bon appetit” in a Korean setting will sound pretentious, especially if they are middle class or working class moms and grandmas who say that. But in other languages this works well.
  • The one which is very difficult is “You’ve worked hard” while leaving the office at the end of the day. Especially awkward when it’s a subordinate saying that to the director!!!
    In that case “Good evening” is surely more appropriate. As well as “See you tomorrow”.
    If the team has completed something successfully, “Great job” or “Good job” can be substituted: yes, it’s “cheating”, because in reality nobody is complimenting anybody, it’s just like saying goodbye, but let’s say that in that case it can be appropriate.
  • Many times “this person” can be changed to “this man”, and “a person” to “someone”.
  • “Save me!” said by the victim to the murderer is of course “Spare me!” (in Korean the verb is the same) or “Have mercy”.
  • “practice” is often “rehearsal” (it is same word in Korean)
  • They call orchestral pieces “song”, although they have no voice.
  • “I have a schedule” 99% means “I have an appointment”.

Konglish can be VERY frustrating, and most Ko-En subbers will translate literally without thinking. But if you know and you are a careful editor you know what to translate.
That’s why I only edit Korean dramas. Because I’ve learned these things, and it’s taken me years. I don’t know them for Japanese nor Chinese, though.


In general it is similar even though each language has its own expressions, idioms etc.

I sometimes talk with Chinese native speakers about certain English subtitles I find way too weird and their (= these I know) translation/how they’d say it in English is usually more natural bc they adjust/transfer it into English instead of keeping it 1:1 / too wordly.

But I guess bc of the large amount of dramas here and bc many may not put enough effort into research or more awareness many subtitles are just left in a very wordly way.

(I mean even edited English subs do still include slang like ASAP and other stuff that shouldn’t be used, especially not for fantasy & historical dramas)


Sorry, I was wrongly assuming when you said “professional” you meant professional translators! My mind just went there for some reason. I was thinking of the specific profession of translating, not generally.
Interesting side thought: you used the word “ethical”. In my music teacher’s professional group we used to have a “code of ethics”, for example, not trying to “steal” another teacher’s student by offering that student a better deal. Some gov’t agency (don’t remember which one) said that was illegal because it goes against capitalistic ideals of competition.
Back to translating: Personally, I enjoy reading the not so perfect translations because it can give me a better understanding of how another language might be structured differently than my native tongue.
Language in general: different words take on different meanings as time goes on. For example the word “literal” literally doesn’t mean literal anymore. Example: I don’t even know what a “dangling participle” is, much less where it’s at. But that doesn’t prevent me from writing my thoughts.
Translations: do you know what the phrase “fair to middlin’” means? Because I have a story…

I think we must be careful not to proclaim something Viki’s own culture of translating, when in fact it could be just a consistently overly direct translation.

Even after all these years at Viki, the “I will leave first” sounds awkward. And in the beginning I translated this sentence wrongly to my language. At this point, knowing this particular sentence construction is a direct translation, I skip the word “first” and translate the rest appropriately, depending on the context.

Another issue is using the word “ildan” (일단, first) at the beginning of a sentence, when the character is making a decision, often in a crisis situation.

“First, take her to the peer.”

Often there is no secondary decision. Therefore, I either skip it or (when appropriate) I translate it as “for now”.

In Croatian, in particular, “Eat a lot” is close to a cozy thing you say to your friends and family, especially the kids, literally translated “Just eat” (a lot).

LOL! There is so many wrong things with that statement… :upside_down_face:

Pray tell! :smiley:

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I used professional that way in my posts bc it makes no sense (for me) to write about (any) professional when it is about translating/translations since someone who is e.g. a medic has knowledge of that field but does not have the same knowledge as someone in another profession’s field.

For a first overview I do agree, for ongoing watching I disagree (I prefer learning the language then over reading subtitles in another language with the structure/wording of the origin language). But that probably also depends on my native language’s surroundings; we usually do not watch foreign films with subtitles because it would reduce the fun of watching since our grammar is too complex (way how sentences are built etc.) to be able to read and watch at same time. So if it is with subtitles in my native language, professionals cut a lot to provide the most possible enjoyment.

If I watch something with subtiles I usually choose English subs because this language is less complex and has short sentences.


I also started to skip certain filler-words, some are “however”, “then”, “today”…“I tell you”, “let me tell you”…

However sometimes makes sense but not all the time.

Then often is not necessary.

Today (in Chinese) can be used to define the verb’s tense so since I know that I do not translate a “today” in every! single sentence… (I saw episodes that really had a today in every sentence in certain dialogues…)

So now I check if someone is talking about present or past times and then decide if I just adjust my native’s language verb or add a “today”, “past” as well…

The “let me tell you”, “let me ask you” thing is also something that appears similar weird like the “always today” and the “I leave first” thing when it is used in an excessive way.


Ah, I remembered another awkward one.

Akka (아까), ubiquitously translated as “before” :roll_eyes:

Before what? It may refer to “just now” or “some time ago” or even earlier that day. One has to be aware when exactly the referred event took place to know which correct adverb to use in their own language.

:open_mouth: Totally didn’t know that. Thanks!

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Almost as soon as I had “I will leave first” I watched someone say that in Yong-jiu’s Grocery Store, a Taiwanese drama that I know I’m going to love. It won me over the first few minutes. I knew exactly what he meant when he said “I will leave first”. I really like that saying too. Please don’t change it.

“Fair to middlin”. First time my Hawaiian husband talked to my Southern U.S. dad, he asked my dad how he was. Instead of saying “I’m fine, thank you” he said “Oh, I’m fair to middlin”. My husband looked confused, covered the mouthpiece with his hand and whispered to me “what’s fair to middlin?” It a southern expression meaning he feels okay.
Where did it originate? In the South when cotton was king, grades of cotton were labeled “fair” or “middlin”. So that’s where that came from.

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I adore the expression “I will leave first”. For some reason it feels endearing.

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yes! I hate translating these words! In my language they look super awkward when put alone in the beginning of a sentence followed by a comma (which is how they are most of the time). Specially that, naturally, some of them don’t even exist in certain languages, such as the word however, we don’t have that, and we have to translate it into “In any state”, and I just found it to be used way too much.
Another thing that is rather irrelevant but really annoys me when translating are the “Uhmm”, “Oh!”, “Ahhh!” an such things. :sweat_smile::sweat_smile::sweat_smile:
Why do you have to write these?! They look utterly ridiculous when translated! I mean we can hear that they’re surprised, or that they’re scared or whatever, and I understand that may be you put it down for people who can’t hear, or any other reason I haven’t thought of.
One may tell to just skip them, but again they look strange when the segment includes something that’s not in the sub…
I’m sorry if this was irrelevant to the post, I just mentioned what came to my mind when I saw this.
Anyway back to the subject.
When it comes to what you’re saying I actually enjoy these funny lines that you’re criticizing. As a learner I like knowing what they’re actually saying and not confuse it with other words. Plus, I think that knowing how people in foreign countries talk and use their language is the charm of watching something from another country. But, yes, maybe as you’re saying it can go overboard and look like stuff that don’t make much sense. :sweat_smile:


I watched the first ~200 episodes of Chinese dramas on Netflix that does not have the wordly 1:1 translation that many or maybe most VIKI subtitles have. After ~60 episodes I knew few words, after ~100 even more (like very simple sentences/parts of dialogues).

VIKI has way too often wrong wording including wrong tenses and wrong negation form.

Something that is really part of a culture and language is the addressing but for Chinese dramas translators here do not care. I didn’t see (watched) a single drama here that keeps the specific terms/titles/addressings; some even say Chinese language wouldn’t care about that…

In the end you got thousands brothers and sisters plus other Americanisized wording for other titles/addressing instead of sticking to the origin titles/addressing how it’s done with Korean terms or how it’s common for fan translations of anime and manga.

A simple example is the brother/sister addressing. In Chinese they have different terms for different situations and relations. A blood relative/family brother/sister does not have the same addressing like a sworn brother or a clan member’s brother/sister or a martial arts brother sister.

Same with teacher… in some English subs they write teacher even though that’s not what’s said in Chinese.

Another aspect of “what they are really saying/what word it is” would be a wordly translation of nihǎo (you good) but you’ll probably never find that since in other languages it’s a simple “hello”, “hi”…

Another simple example… instead of “death+something” or “killer+something” they used “assassination+something”. The official wording by the producers was “killer+something”. It was a clear and easy to understand expression plus it has a association to “killer clam” which is a common English word with a quite similar, almost 1:1 same wording in my language. The “assassination+something” that VIKI uses just gave a wrong expression, it even didn’t make sense for what it was used.

So for me after knowing and understanding more about the language the translations became more frustrating because I do realize the lacks in certain aspects.


Sometimes I would really like to have the old Viki subtitle “instrument” again … The one where we had a subtitle line and a reference line, the reference line would give the direct translation and the other the chosen English translation. Sometimes no matter how hard you try to translate some phrases, they won’t work in other languages since the background is not given and then you could look up the 1:1 translation and if you were lucky even some additional background information. For language interested that’s a real loss, because not only could you learn standard knowledge you can learn everywhere else as well, but you were able to get to know about culture, history, peoples, …
When Viki decided on “not to be an archive” many interesting posts that really experienced translators were gone with the wind and some of the best translators regretfully too.


I’m new here so I didn’t know such a thing existed. But you have no idea how many times I wished it was there. :neutral_face:

There will always be subbers who translate literally. In my languages (Italian and Greek) I give extensive feedback and sometimes we do 1:1 Skype sessions where I edit their translation with “Share screen”, while on the microphone we discuss why this is not correct or how it can be made better. Word by word translating is a habit which is very hard to correct, especially if the person isn’t interested in correcting it.
In my experience, few Korean-English subbers read the Subbing Guidelines or Team Notes - other than to see the characters’ names and job titles. And no editor would dare to suggest a training session in writing more natural English. Even the thought of it is preposterous. You just edit quietly and gratefully and that’s the end of it. These people are precious so they are to be treated like royalty. Without them there would be no English subtitles, we’d all be in deep sh***, unable to understand our beloved dramas.
Some people I’ve spoken to are active proponents of literal translation, because they feel that otherwise the meaning is lost.
A T.E. who used to be very active here a couple of years ago went and edited my edits to make them more literal and the resulting English was unacceptable. She even told me “I don’t care about grammar, I want it to be faithful”. We had lots of discussions about this, but we were friends too, so we agreed to disagree and I took care to avoid projects where she was on. She’s a smart and lovable person otherwise.
Once I was editor in a drama where the T.E. (not her, another one) and the C.E. badmouthed me behind my back for always wanting to “make it pretty” - I suppose they meant I was trying to make it sound like regular English instead of a fabricated idiom that will make viewers scratch their head.
I assure you I take super extra care that the meaning is not lost or altered when turning a sentence into decent English. I don’t do “localization”, and I use many original language words with notes underneath. And sometimes I err on the side of caution, especially since most of the time I am not Chief Editor but General Editor.
But some people still say: “yes, but the screenwriter used that particular word because they wanted this precise meaning, which is not exactly like the one you put”. As if the screenwriter were Shakespeare! We all know in what a hurry scripts are written, at the very last moment, so much so that the actors don’t even have the time to memorize them precisely and sometimes they paraphrase, saying their own dialogue, as long as the meaning is the same. Yet we should feel bound by every comma as if it had a deep importance?


“However” is a perfectly legitimate word that can be used when it’s needed. In the first sentence you say something which is reasonable and accepted. But there is also the other side of the matter, which you want to express in the second sentence, so you join the two sentences by “however”.
“Yes, dating can take away precious time from studying. I am aware of this, mom, and I can see why you are forbidding me to see my boyfriend. However, since I started dating him, he’s been encouraging me to study and you’ve seen that my grades have gone up”.
“However” is not wrong. What is wrong is “but,” with a comma, at the beginning of the sentence. “But” in English goes with the next word, no pause, no comma after it. The comma goes before, because “but” is not used at the beginning of a new sentences, only as a joiner.
“You said dating will distract me from my studies, but hasn’t happened in my case.”
The only instance where you can see a comma after “but” is if after it there is a subordinate sentence between two commas.
“You said dating will distract me from my studies, but, as you’ve seen, my grades have actually gone up”.

In Korean, however, there is a big pause after “hadjiman”. This means “but” can’t be used. Then “however” saves the day, because you can put a comma and imagine a speaker pausing after it.

(Can you tell that I’ve been watching “Moment of Eighteen”?)