To quote Mrs. Slocombe from the 1970s Britcom Are You Being Served?, “I resemble that remark!”
I have said and understood things . . . shall we say interestingly . . . at times in my career as a human being because of my lack of knowledge of language subtleties even in my own language. Regional dialects in English are quite numerous, and when you add in the use of what linguists at one time called “loan-words” from other languages, creoles, and pidgins, well, it does get weird trying to communicate with other people, and not always in a hilarious way.
This is why I am very nervous about the idea of contributing to Viki subs on any level.
Below is what I think of as great example of the challenges of creating subtitles for Viki dramas when, on either side of the sub, segment, and organize process there is not a single close equivalent to be found.
I have friends in Miami, FL. They are excellent English speakers. I messaged one of them on Facebook earlier today. I used the phrase “por cierto” to mean “by the way.”
Literally, “por cierto” in English is “for certain.”
Literally, in Spanish, “by the way” is “de la via.” Or “de la camino.”
And neither set of words maps simply, easily, or convincingly onto the other. If I were to translate Spanish to English in a strictly literal way, I would have to say (or write) something along the lines of “attention-getting phrase” or “attention-getting set of syllables.”
Because (and I think these exist in every language?) there are sounds/words that come out of the human mouth that signal to listeners and hearers alike, “Okay, pay attetion to what will be said/pay attention to what was just said.” And depending on where these sounds/words show up in a sentence, they can have more or less gravity and impact.
“By the way, I love your dress.”
“I, by the way, love your dress.”
“I love your dress, by the way.”
Back in the day on DramaFever, I saw a C-drama called The Interpreter with Yang Mi. (I see that it is “available in my area” on Viki. Yay!)
My idea of an amazing job would be to serve as a simultaneous translator almost anywhere, and I initially followed The Interpreter with great excitement. However, after about ten episodes, I literally had to stop watching because I kept imagining me in that job screwing up and getting taken to task in front of hundreds of people.
It’s hard to go to sleep when your heart is hammering out of vicarious fear, so I turned my attention elsewhere.