Sacrificing Speed for Quality in Subtitles

What on earth makes you think that? :eyes:

Then how do you feel about the fact that Viki’s need for speed is nowadays even sabotaging the segmenting teams?


If you can substitute the word “dirt, soil” for Earth/earth, then don’t capitalize “earth.” If you can substitute the phrase “this world” or “this planet,” then do capitalize “Earth.”

When “Earth” is used as an intensive, it doesn’t require capitalization, but I’m a stickler for proper English. I do not mean “What on dirt is going on?” so I use “What on Earth is going on?” What on Pluto is going on? What on Uranus is going on? What on Mercury is going on?

I do not use “kids” because that is slang which means “baby goats,” and I find it disrespectful to call small people “little goats.” I called my children “you little monkeys” when they made a mess, and they took great pains to announce to me that I had hurt their feelings.

I bow to Cgwm in all matters Korean, but I prefer my English as proper as possible. Yes, the world seems to be going to slang, but I hold out for Yes rather than “yeah, yep, uh huh, etc.” which isn’t proper editing in my sphere.

We need GEs who are trained to format, spell and punctuate properly. I always believe that Translation Editors are essential! For example, who can speak and read Thai to fill blank segments of missing dialogue or text? Viewers come to Viki for the quality that good TEs can give us!

Most websites do not segment properly with extensions. They have messy subs and terrible timing! All of our volunteers work super hard. Why would Viki want us to cut corners and do a terrible job?

I work as efficiently as possible in the fastest amount of time. But I am retired. Other volunteer editors work full-time jobs then work on Viki until after midnight.

I am a perfectionist. I can’t do an irresponsible job, but if I’m rushed to release and don’t have the time to double-check my work, I may miss some spelling or grammatical errors.

I take the time to do extensive Team Notes so I can maintain consistency. I deplore staff subs where the same name is spelled three different ways in one episode! Sometimes the same name is spelled differently in the same part!

I believe in using honorifics, but if I don’t have TEs, I can miss these. Many viewers of Asian dramas will pick up that the speaker said “Brother” but the subber wrote the name instead. Many viewers with a gift of languages learned to speak the origin language from years of watching. Believe me, they catch the translation errors, since pre-subs are about 20% incorrect.

I know that Viki uses paid staff more and more. Their expertise may be the origin language, but their skill is not in English. Their word order can mean something opposite to the intended meaning. I find this almost every day in editing pre-subs.

Examples that I use for teaching that word order is crucial to meaning:
Grand Tutor, I am commanding you as the Princess to eat. (She is commanding him to eat her.)
Grand Tutor, as the Princess, I am commanding you to eat.

He only had eyes for cooking. (He only had eyes, no hands or feet.)
He had eyes only for cooking. (His eyes didn’t work at other times.)
He had eyes for only cooking. (He concentrated on cooking only.)

As a viewer, I do think that only one episode per week for a regular drama is too slow. I can do 3-4 episodes per week with a good team of 5-6 TEs.

If it’s a show that I wouldn’t bother to watch, then I don’t accept the editing job. Unfortunately, more shows are being loaded that I would never watch or edit. I’m not into horrors and zombies. I have to admit that I’m not worried about their quality. I feel it’s just for the scare.

Can AI produce speed with quality? Absolutely… Not in a hundred years! Just watch closed captions for shows on YT that are not translated by humans. Those are the weirdest subs! The human touch will always require time for decent quality.


Ooh! Not the phone! I use an iphone mini, so it’s definitely a no no. I watch my shows comfortably on my 75inch TV or my 11inch tablet if I’m in bed or outside. I take my show time seriously :joy:


@worthyromance says “earth” in the phrase “what on earth” should be lower case. When To Capitalize "Earth" -

" I deplore staff subs where the same name is spelled three different ways in one episode! " Yes, I see that often, too!

In Korean there are several ways to say yes, but one is an informal way which sort of sounds like ung. For that we usually sub it as “Yeah” or “Yup” or “Uh Huh” to emphasize the close relationship of the speakers or the casual nature of the dialogue between them. Since we assume the screenwriter is fluent in Korean, if the screenwriter meant for the speaker to use a more formal “yes”, the screenwriter would have written the more formal form

When Korean subbers use the word “kids” to refer to adults more often than not the speaker used 애들 which is plural for 애. The dictionary definitions for 애 are child, kid, baby, youngster. So in a medical drama, when an attending physician refers to the “kids”, he is referring to the interns. Because there is a Korean word for intern, we assume the screenwriter meant the speaker to say “kids” because if the screenwriter wanted the character to say “interns”, the script would have the specific Korean word in it. The head of a gang may also refer to his minions as 애들 rather than minions, underlings, gangmembers, followers, again to imply familiarity. Rather than the word children we use kid to imply a familiar relationship between the speaker and the referenced adults.

We try our best to make the dialogue as realistic as we can.


What do you mean by “sabotaging”? If you mean there’s not much work for segmenters, then, I must say the obvious: volunteering works on a demand-offer basis, like everything else. I mean, we’re volunteering because we’re needed. If we stop being needed, we’ll stop volunteering. No one signed a contract saying they’re always be needed as contributors. Does that makes us feel used? It definitely does, but remeber that we’re being used voluntarily. I know I’m being a little blunt, but who are we kidding here? We’re here because we want to, because we chose to. Noone forced us. Everyone does it for their own reasons. If we don’t like how things work, we can leave anytime. But being here voluntarily doesn’t give us the right to demand things to remain unchanged, just because, otherwise, we won’t have much to do here. That applies to every category of contributors. If in a few months I’m told there is no need for my contribution any longer, for any reason, I’ll just accept that and stay here as a viewer or find another place to contribute. And if I don’t like the quality of the product, I won’t pay for it. That’s how things are.


If they are satisfied with the timing quality of their pre-subs and don’t need segmenters anymore they should say it, instead of asking us to adjust without combining. It’s frustrating not being able to do a proper work due to this limitation, and the work arounds are either unsatisfying and annoying for the subbers (Adjust and Paste) or extremely long and tedious (Adjust and Combine English + OL).
I think this is what Mirjam meant with sabotaging.


Indeed. It’s not that there is less work for segmenters; Viki is willingly making it impossible for us to do a proper job by adding OL presubs and then telling us not to combine. This way, the errors in the segments remain and there is nothing we can do about it, unless we are lucky enough to get permission to combine while saving the OL subs in the process… which is a whole lot of extra work (but still better than the alternative).

And being volunteers doesn’t mean that we are disposables. It’s not about “demanding,” it’s about communication and respect. I never volunteered to “be used.” They may not have “forced” us, they did lure us in. And that’s fine as long as we are being taken seriously.

I wouldn’t stay as a viewer, and certainly not a paying one. Why would I?


Thank you for clarifying “sabotaging” @mirjam_465 and @baepsae29. I understand what you’re saying and respect your point of view. It doesn’t change what I wrote previously, not for me at least. Different perpectives, I guess.


I understand what the dictionary says, but it’s not my god.

Instead of kids, I use “youth, youngsters, young ones, boys, girls, etc.” which are correct English. I say “yes” to my husband and close friends. I don’t need slang to indicate our familiarity. :wink: I also never used foul language. I believe slang and foul language indicate a lack of education so it’s never an option for me.

That’s my reality. I’m not forcing my reality on anyone else. Some people think that commas should replace periods, and that’s their choice. It doesn’t work for my reality.

If we go the way of whatever is trending in the world, then “Hyung” can replace “Hey.” That’s what I heard from a Staff TE.

As a viewer, I prefer to read subtitles with proper English. I think it makes it easier for OL Mods if I use clear, precise English without all the slang and idioms. I notice that Staff subs contain more and more idioms which could mean the opposite in foreign languages.


That is not always true.

What if the speaker uses slang? Do you change the subtitle?


We tend to use “international English”, without too many words which are specific to either the US or Canada or Australia or UK, because it must be understood by OL volunteers (and OL audiences who choose to watch with English subs). There is a level of, how should I put it, “soft slang”, things that everyone in the world knows from watching movies etc. That is common to English everywhere in the world. That kind of language might be used, because it will be understandable.
I remember when, in Legend of the Blue Sea, I read a sub where Lee Min Ho’s character said to the other guy: “What are you, Rudolph?” And in my naiveté, I asked in TD who was that person, whether they were referring to Rudolph Valentino or Rudolph Nureyev. In fact, they were referring to a red-nosed deer from an American cartoon, because the character was wearing a sweater - that was purplish, not red, but that’s besides the point.
Most Korean dramas don’t have lots and lots of slang and stuff to begin with. You find more of it in films - just like swearing.
Frankly, to me, “Yup” and “Yeah” sound so American that there’s a dissonance when I associate the with the Korean face I see on screen.
But it’s a question of personal preference and I always respect the choice of the Chief Editor.


I weed out slang.

Avoid using slang English or shortened forms of words. For example, avoid using ‘LOL’ , ‘ya’ or ‘wanna’.
Avoid subbing any words that contain no meaning such as “Haha” or “Um…’

I have edited English for up to 30 different languages to translate. Proper English avoids chaos. :grinning:


I asked the question because I think slang should be kept in certain cases. For example, if the characters like gangsters or young thugs use it.
What happens in such cases? Is it lost in translation?

I agree with words like “wanna”, “LOL”…


I edit it and clean up the swearing. It’s not like a book where you can leave slang such as “Of Mice and Men” because we have many languages following us. If you like to read slang, you can read such books which are edited to show their mind’s capacity.

We have a couple of seconds to convey proper meaning as subtitles whiz by. If our subs are not long-winded, you have time to watch the actors to get a sense of their emotions and vehemence. We don’t need slang to convey that, as in a book without onscreen presence.

You don’t have to agree with anything. As you can see, many of us editors don’t agree on minor details. However, we are all dedicated to bringing the best edited subs to our viewers.


So you change what the speaker says to suit your own preferences. Since you seem to hate slang, you “clean up” the subtitle. In doing so, you don’t respect the original work.
I don’t agree with that. But I understand that editors have their own rules.


Five different subbers can translate the same dialogue in five different ways. Five blind men touched an elephant. One said it’s a snake as he touched the trunk; another said it’s a wall as he touched its side; another said it’s a spear as he touched the tusk, another said it’s a rope as he touched the tail; and the other said it’s a fan as he touched the ear.

Translation Editor compared to Viki pre-subs

ana_812 | Jun 11: let me give you back your coat
viki | Jun 6: I’ll change your clothes (This pre-sub was so hilariously wrong!)

mzyl1485_691| Feb 25
To come back after a month for another injection and to do so for three months in a row.
Viki| Feb 9
Get another jet one month later, three months in a row.

pandali_666: we’ll welcome them back at any time.
viki: when we bob up like a cork

starlighto | Jul 24

  • Because they are worn out.
  • That could have been the case.
    viki | Jul 21
  • Right.
  • I guess that could be.

pandabears8735 | Jun 26
Now that I explained everything, it’s not so romantic anymore. Really now…
viki| Jun 16
It’s clear now, It’s not that romantic. You’re so mean.

worthyromance | Jun 8
I paid the bill.
TE | Jun 3
I payed the bill.
viki | May 18
I bought the order.


What does this have to do with what we were talking about?

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Viki presents a unique situation because English is the basis for all other language translations, and not everyone subbing those languages is familiar with English slang. For the same reason we try to eliminate English idioms for the purposes of OLs, we try to get rid of slang too. Slang is difficult to directly translate across languages anyway, so if English slang is used, it’s likely already different from what the character said in the origin language. Yes, some things get lost in translation, but it’s a result of the process Viki uses.

On the other side of “getting lost in translation,” I’ve said this in other discussions, but there seems to be a trend in some dramas where whoever is writing the presubs seems to be making an attempt to sound more “hip or trendy” by using certain slang terms that aren’t actually being said by the characters. For example, I am the CE on a current project where they used " 'Sup" a lot when, according to the TE, they are saying, “What’s going on?” or other similar phrases. Or one sub said “Zip it, rookie” when the person actually said, “Don’t get carried away.” This type of thing is so unnecessary, and we just end up changing them anyway.


You have no idea what the original work was so I gave you some examples of how faulty the original subs are before editing.

Families write to me that they are watching with their children. Here some examples from a drama about school children that families would watch:
niajoy | May 18
Are you freaking crazy?
viki | May 17
F***, are you nuts?

 worthyromance | May 18
Okay? Answer me, darn it.
    viki | May 17
Okay? Answer me, f***...

 my_happy_place | May 24
This loser is crying!
viki | May 17
This ■■■■■■■ is crying!

 worthyromance | May 18
You said you were strong! You jerk! Freak!
viki | May 17
You said you're strong! Son of a ■■■■■! F***

 worthyromance | May 18
Get lost, Punk.
    viki | May 17
Get lost, you motherf***er.

 my_happy_place | May 24
- Here you go.
- Hooray!
viki | May 17
- Here you go.
- Yay!

I see that the automatic filter on this Discussion Board even cleaned up the pre-subs! :rofl:


Perhaps there should be a family friendly subtitles seal of approval and the most current episode from the volunteer team.

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