Is swearing allowed while subbing a drama?

True. I gave him/her the benefit of the doubt and thought it could have been a local slang(colloquial) or local acronym, like ‘Long Beach State’ for ‘California State University, Long Beach’. But now that you’re questioning it, it obviously isn’t.

Btw, I love Drinking Solo:)

In the example you stated, I do agree there’s no good way to a better word than ‘bastard’. Not just literally appropriate, but also contextually accurate. I would have no qualms about using ‘bastard’ in this case.

LOL I never did give that any thought, feminist or not. I guess I’m gender-neutral or gender-blind on this matter. Profanity or vulgarity is offensive no matter what form - woman or dog or whatever - it takes. IMHO.

Sounds good to me. Let’s! :slight_smile:

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It’s been interesting following this discussion. I am British/American and have noticed that the last few series I’ve watched in 2021 and 2022, there’s a lot more use of the f-word. After this discussion which includes words like bastard, bitch, etc. that people are getting hung up on, what no one is discussing is the f-word which is a lot more vulgar than any of these others. In fact, I’m wondering if Korean translators know what it means and its cultural implications. A taboo word (what linguistics term them) is something that you learn is taboo as a child in a particular language. The equivalent in another language doesn’t have the same impact. For example, I know French, Italian and Spanish and the equivalent of sh-t in those languages doesn’t have the same impact for me. But what I’ve noticed is that the recent Korean shows are using the f-word more frequently. The PG-13 (US) and 12A (UK) limits its use; only one for PG-13 and maybe about 5 for 12A. However, I started watching Good Job and the use of the f-word is quite frequent. It’s listed as PG-13. I’ve lost count how many f-words there are and I’m only on episode 3. It’s off-putting because I don’t actually see these characters as vulgar as this. It’s worse that we have to read it. It might be good for translators to take the genre and the characters into consideration. Light romances, even with suspense doesn’t need as many. I watched one show that hardly had any f-words and then suddenly out of the blue, a character called someone a “motherf—r” Really, really vulgar. It didn’t fit her character at all. So, translators need to take into consideration both the genre and the characters in the shows and give them dialog that’s appropriate to the situation and the character. It’s really hard to translate things from another language, especially one between an Asian language and a European language and most people are doing a great job. However, this trend of proliferating the f-word in more innocuous shows, is disturbing and annoying. I know this is an old topic, but vulgarity in Korean translations has become worse than 6 years ago.


It’s possible if it’s a modern drama, otherwise, it’s just plain laziness to use modern terminology. Plus, it takes away from the magic of dramas to use the incorrect translation.

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It’s useful to learn a couple of Korean swear words and listen for them. If you hear “shibal”, then yes, it’s f***. If you just hear someone insult another person calling him “kae sekki” (literally “son of a dog”, as sekki means “baby”), it’s not motherf*** or anything near that, it can be translated just with “bastard” (although the meaning is not the same) or “jerk” or “punk” or whatever generic insult.
I’ve linked a reference document in this thread. The most commonly used ones are in red. Go look them up and if the original Korean is much milder than the English translation, you have every right, as a viewer, to write and complain to the Chief Editor and/or Channel Manager.
I am watching “If you wish upon me” right now and, although most of the characters are quite mild in their speech (they are volunteers at a hospice), the main lead is an ex gangster who’s always grumpy and annoyed at everybody and yeah, his language is peppered with f-words. They do use asterisks, though.
There is a rule that films are free to go, as far as swearing is concerned. They do contain most of the words you don’t usually encounter in dramas.
I remember a movie I worked on, sadly not available on Viki anymore, called “Fasten Your Seatbelt”. The main character was known for his incessant swearing. It was hilarious. Another one, that beautiful beautiful film called “Sunny” (OMG, that too isn’t here anymore!) about three old friends from school, had one who was called “the swearing queen”, because she could outswear a sailor.


If anyone noticed, I saw recently that some channels are presubbed by Viki whether they are paid subbers or not I don’t know, but it looks like US based, therefore these swears probably, I’m talking in particular about Good Job I noticed as well… this drama isn’t like some Korean R rated movie with violence and of course the ugly swears. And I agree with irmar that there should be put more conscience in translating the Korean swears into equal meaning and not just the common swears in order to defuse the vulgarity.


This is a problem me & my team also came to realise and it had been bothering us a lot too. Lots of “fuck” “bastard” “son of a bitch” and more thrown here and there and it just takes the story to another level. To be honest, nobody is fully fluent in Korean in my team (of Turkish translators) However, many of us are into Korean culture, and some of us have been learning Korean so we got people knowing/familiar with the language on different levels.

What bothers me is that, Viki’s one and only good side (yes, I think there is none) is that volunteers here are people who know & love the languages and cultures, so most of them are familiar with the original & target language they work on. However, recently with paid subbers (and LOL people who have been allowed as English subbers when they use Google Translate) Viki’s quality of subs started to become no different than other platforms. Viki keeps promoting the idea of “better quality subs” but their actions been towards the opposite of what they want.

Our team takes into Korean context & usage in consideration when we sub a show. We try to choose our editors to be people who knows a bit of Korean at least. But this is a luxury and not everyone has this luxury to have people knowing Korean in their team and it shouldnt be an OL editor/subbers task to basically TE the show as they translate & edit.

As you said, it is very off-putting to see common American slang/swear words thrown here and there super frequently. I still cant get over the fact that using 새끼 as “son of a bitch” got so common. I won’t be surprised if i see a grandparent&parent call their offsprings “you son of a bitch” next time when I watch a PG13 drama lol.

All in all, seeing translations like that wears me out these days. Its extra work for everyone and Viki does nothing to improve anything, nor to preven. Viki is the most unprofessional professional company who got the most professional unprofessional community. I hope they either decide to wake up and get their—(ops, almost forgot it wasnt a drama subtitle) together, or next time they have a meeting, “should we get rid of the volunteers” won’t be a question they have the luxury to ask, since they’ll just chase us all away with their unresponsive and discouraging behaviour that comes with s***ty pre-segments & pre-subtitles.


Thank you, @irmar and @ajumma2, for you opinions… you talked about things I never thought about! I do hate lazy translating/editing, because english swear words nowadays are 1) senseless and 2) used wayyy too much. Its not that hard to type “bastard synonyms” into the Google searchbox - especially when you can’t think of replacements.
An unpleasant or despicable person

Language is art and English has no shortage of creative insults :joy:


I agree 100% with Irmar.

Even though I rarely swear in personal life, it doesn’t offend me and I don’t have an opinion on it. As an English editor, though, it’s not my right to force swearing onto people. Viki guidelines for English editors say to use an asterisk for swearing. I support this. People who like to swear will have no problem seeing the swearword in the censored version, and people who don’t like to swear will appreciate that Viki subbers have made an effort to soften the language for them. This means that every one wins.


I love the list @vivi_1485. There are some fantastic options in here that have never crossed my mind before. Thanks heaps!


It’s a PG-13, at the least! Use several asterisks.

Right! :rofl: Whenever I see modern language usage in period dramas, and movies, I cringe. Not to mention it takes away from the enjoyment of the story. :woozy_face:

Who knows :woman_shrugging:t5: ?


I do not think such wording should exist in a historical anyway… that’s pretty American slang… whoever translated it, didn’t probably consider these factors…
It looks to me this drama is also translated by the Viki’s paid subtitlers… the Volunteer team is only editing segments and perhaps minor English grammar… and there are also OL other languages teams.

There is a downside of paid subtitlers… the quality is noticeable… :frowning:


:exploding_head: I agree. It is unacceptable not only for the use of vulgarity in plain sight, let alone it being a drama of historical/period genre. Moreover, this scene does not call for any vulgarity at all! The dialogue is “你开什么玩笑” which should just be translated as “Are you kidding me?” or “Are you serious?” or the like. Vulgarity is never any form of replacement for expressing anger, but sadly, many translators/people use it like they’re clutching at straws. Or perhaps because “vulgarity” has become “fashionable” even “cute”? :person_shrugging:

I’ve been seeing more and more usage of vulgarity in dramas/shows on V, across the board. No doubt some of them may be warranted due to their plot themes. IMO, they are often not warranted, or at the minimum, asterisks should be used. It’s sad and bad.


V should differentiate itself from N which is widely known for its unrestrained language usage, as well as liberal translation. Though I must confess that I do like N’s platform design and functionality.

True… I agree totally.


This is not an issue of grammar, but of word usage, context (genre/setting/rating), and more importantly, accuracy in translation.

Was this drama pre-subbed? Perhaps the team is still in the process of “cleaning” it up? Or perhaps the team was given instructions by the overlords not to “edit”? Perhaps… xyz…
Just trying to give them the benefit of the doubt.


Lately many dramas are subbed by Viki paid subtitlers as I wrote already, they are here… and the English team does probably just minor English grammar edit… I do not see a TE volunteer in the team…


Even without any TE (which I know there’s a huge lack of), the GE/CE should edit such language usage, especially for such a genre. At the minimum, edit with asterisks and/or a change of word usage. I guess it also depends on each editor’s “tolerance” of such usage of vulgarity.

There are good ones, too. I’ve personally encountered a couple, but I believe there are more. As for pre-subs that are uploaded as provided by their places of origin, it’s a mixed bag of good and bad. I notice that translators from their places of origin tend to “catch on” (in a bad way) the American-style of what I consider as “casual” language usage. Examples are “gonna” and “wanna” and so on. In particular, the way too common usage of vulgarity (often unwarranted) - very undesirable and unbecoming, IMO. The sad part of it all is that viewers, especially the impressionables and the learners, may end up adopting such “bad” usage of language, too. It’s always easier to learn than to unlearn.

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A proven track record of blatant profanity.

Swearing in a PG Movie.

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In Japan there are some restricted words and phrases in broadcast standards. I cannot translate those words directly. For example I cannot say “Are you crazy?”