Quality over quantity: how to avoid bad translations in subtitling


@rhu_di given some advice to a community that i not part of it, i better not to do it…

I was the part of it and also they had a forum topic on manga translations’ evaluation, so I just used a given opportunity and still I became the black sheep. :confused: (It wasn’t an option to give only good evaluation and do @sslicking, thus I sticked to the reality. ><)


No matter how good and polite you are, you’ll always be in someone’s way, irritating someone. It’s life.

I don’t know if it’s a professional way to do it or not (and there may not be one true solution to this issue), but if the subs are bad and you have time to fix them, contact the CM, no need to go head to head with the current mod. Leave the CM to decide whether it’s appropriate for you to replace the current mod.

What I would advise, though, is a cool head, kind honesty and heaps of politeness :slight_smile: Fighting!



Well, it’s solved now, I’ve already edited first episode. ^^


Excellent :smile:


I see Viki got aware of this topic, since I (we) got that survey about “how to improve subs’ quality”. :stuck_out_tongue:


I didn’t get any poll about that (I guess my opinion on the subject is well established by now :wink: ). But I did get a poll on Viki’s news section, which I discussed in another thread. So, the polls may be targeted. Don’t know. :smirk:


It started with “Hi QCs…”. I thought everyone got it. They were curious of our opinions and suggestions on subs’ quality.


ay pound this on the poll…
“Unnecessary direct translation”, i not really get what is meant…
actually i need it to make my translation more feel “alive”


@rhu_di I’ve replied you in the other topic. I guess this “unnecessary direct translation” means the same that you mentioned as “100% accurate sub”, and me as “mirror translation”. At least I interpreted it like that.


Oh, i thought… “it’s unnecessary for me (as a second-hand subber) to try to translate directly from the content.” :sob:


I am not exactly sure what @bettina_samai and you have established as best, but my opinion is that even though you are a second-hand subtitler (meaning you subtitle from English to your mother tongue), you should try to keep to the meaning of the subtitle and not skip a part of the content just because you feel the translation to your language is awkward and maybe even unnecessary. If that happens, leave the subtitle and come back to it the next day, and I’m sure you’ll come up with a better, more natural translation into your own language.

An exception could be for example if the Korean-English translator initially used a phrase that is characteristic of the English language, but was not actually used in the original language (aka, the Kor-Eng translator was liberal with the translation). Then go for the most natural phrase in your own language. However, bear in mind that you would have to know a bit of (in this case) Korean and a whole lot of English to understand when the English translation was so liberal.

The reason for keeping as much to the original content is the fact that the true meaning of the subtitle is more easily lost in second-hand subtitling, considering it needs to “survive” the translating and editing process two times.


@bozoli It’s not that I skip essential contents. I always keep the meaning of a sentence, but there are things you can explain in different ways but with the same meaning, and in some languages it’s not necessary to add certain words to your sentences (for eg. personal pronouns - in hungarian we have verb entailments to express personal pronouns like “I, you, he/she…”, so it will sound like spoken language and not like an english homework). But unskilled translators always put there the personal pronouns, how they learnt at school.
Or sometimes you can skip conjuctions and the sentence still doesn’t lose its meaning, but it will look more refined (this is how ‘that’ works in our language).
And also there are the sayings you can’t translate literally, but you have to find the suitable one in your language. I mean we may say them totally different. For eg.: “Early bird gets the worm.” If I translated it into hungarian word for word, then I would translate it back into english, it would look like “The person who gets up early, would find gold.” Does it sound lame, right? ^^
I can’t explain it better til we don’t speak the same native language. ><


I kow exactly what you mean and there’s the difference. If you want quality subs you need to know the language you are translating from and your own language very well. Because you need to always step back in your mind and think about the translation. First you need to make sure that the content is the same and in the second step you need to make sure that it doesn’t sound awkward in the language you translated into. It’s so difficult because basically so many langauges have politeness-systems and it’s so difficult to translate that. From English of course since there is only “you” but even if I tried to translate directly from Korean, there is no way to directly apply the Korean polite-language-system to the German polite-language-system.

And I think that’s what bozoli means, not just mindlessly translating for quantity but actually translating quality in your own language without loosing the original meaning. That’s why subbing is that hard and as an editor you have to work hard. And that’s why it’s not really appreciated enough :wink:


simply example for this…
I have a glass” or “It’s me”, “a” and “It’s” can be or have to be omitte for some cases


other cases…
What is your name?
a. My name is rhu_di
b. rhu_di
for formal content i will choose the first one and second one for casual content


this is what i dont like subtiting here (online subbing), as we know, to do subtitle, we have to watch it, translate, edit it then we need to finalized it.
for me, it’s bandwidth consuming --at least i need to use 2 gb of internet connection to sub an episode… mostly i work on not-too-populer channel so i have to work it my own :relieved:


I agree with everything.
Now pardon my crashing into this thread. I was subbing Kimba earlier, but it appears to be region locked now and i can not continue/ I would be thankful if anyone could update me regarding this matter. Maybe it something wrong with my PC? Or Viki had changed during my absence. Thank you very much and I apologize for off topic (Could find where/how to post a question).


Region-locked for me, too. And not QC available. Could be a glitch (in which case wait for a few days) or could be lost licence to show the content.


Yes, I understand this completely. It’s the same in Croatian language where the verb or even adjective conjugation reveals the subject of the sentence. Putting in an unnaturally sounding extra subject in there is not that big of a deal in my opinion. Granted, it sounds weird, but the full meaning and content are still there.

When I said this:

I meant that some translators omit an adjective, or (believe it or not) even a third of a sentence (usually a subordinate clause) because I guess at that point it either doesn’t fit well with what they already wrote or they are just that lazy. I think this content skipping happens gradually, when the translator is more experienced and she/he feels the essence of the sentence will not get lost. And perhaps the sentence meaning doesn’t. But part of the content does. And there lies the temptation.

Funny part in all of this “can we leave the subject out?” story is that the Korean language for example often does not even have the subject, as well. Meaning, the Kor-Eng translators assume it from the previous context.

In that case I can only tell you (instead of your viewers) thank you for all your efforts and keep up the good work! :sunny:


Haha… compared to what i did, you put so much more effort…
even people could think of you as staff members! :wink:

well, i not really sure if anyone experiences this, but… occasionally i cant translate the whole sentences, so i need to cut it off because subtitle box has reach its limit
actually… it’s something that i have to talk with segmenters cause it;s usually happened when they put few phrase in a segment.
FYI, Indonesian tended to have longer sentences than other, i guess


You are 100% correct too bad not everyone is on the same page with us. I believe the reason is that most subbers or seggers do it to get QC status so they don’t have to see ads or have to pay to watch the dramas. Not to do a good job for the pleasure of the viewers.