Translation might affect a personality image

They do, but sometimes there are different subbers subbing different parts of an episode. If there’s no proper list of terms, names and other things, the subbers use whatever they see fit. And if the GE isn’t attentive, different parts may have different terms.

I agree with @ajumma2 about observing the tone in which the word is said before deciding on the English word substitute. Lately, I’ve been seeing way to many dramas that just substitute the F word or the B word for every insult there is. I also have a question:
Is b*tch the only word there is for the phrase “이 년아”? Sometimes I feel it’s too harsh when it’s just friends talking…


I don’t know where to put this, but I was watching Danger-Less Detectives and the woman clearly said “Give and take” in English and this was the sub:
I didn’t even know what that means(I googled it and I know now)! I’ve seen this in a few other dramas… they use idioms and other fancy parts of speech for simple sentences… I understand that it adds spice to the language, but these are subtitles and they have to be translated by other volunteers to other languages. It’s best to stick to simple English, and the woman said the words in English, anyway.

I apologize if this hasn’t been touched by the editors yet.


Yeah,I knew it, I’m a moderator on that show,
Actually there’s no accurate word for that, so I followed give and take.
It is edited by the chief editor in March this year.she is a very popular English chief editor.all the episodes were released for other languages too.
Edit: on some later episodes the sub is give and take, you will see it.


I don’t know if this is relevant to this thread but these phrases have been catching me off guard recently.

“bros before ho/es” “dates before mates” “gals before pals”

Whenever I see these subs it makes me laugh out loud because they sound so crass. Esp. the first one. I know there are phrases like those in different languages but it just seems so out of place when it’s translated. Although we use the English phrases irl, they don’t sound as weird as when they’re used in Asian dramas.

It esp. bothers me when ml and his friends are using it. Kinda makes his image bad.


I didn’t understand properly can you explain again.please.


It’s used in context like when a guy chooses his gf over his friends.


I feel your dilemma. But I think these sentences might be in pre-subbed shows. I am an editor on a show where (in subtitles provided by content provider) a lady in her late 30s refers to her deceased parents as “folks”; the pre-subs are pretty bad on almost every 3rd show.

I am sure the editors take care of it when they make their rounds.


I was going to say this. I think this is also more frequent in presubbed shows. Sometimes in the TCs you can find people scolding the subbers in those cases, while they didn’t even work on the drama :no_mouth:


No. Here’s what I wrote about it in the discussion before.

“Another example is 년 (nyun) or 미친년 michinnyun (crazy girl/bitch). It could mean something like bitch, crazy biatch, or it could just be a sarcastic or playful or scolding term used by her own mom and obviously her mom isn’t calling her a bitch! So I really hate it when people just blindly sub Nyun as Bitch and Jjashik/Saekki as SOB. I honestly don’t think Koreans in general doesn’t curse as much as Americans, unless if you are part of a gangster or something. So that’s why when I translate Korean cuss words, it always turns out a bit milder in English. It’s not because I’m trying to sanitize or censor cuss words but I try to translate based on the connotation of what is being said in that context and it usually turns out to be milder terms in English.”


This is what bothers me the most about these situations with the use of: offending ‘‘vulgar’’ or ‘‘curse’’ words/phrases/slangs. I have no idea what kind of drama you saw those slangs/phrases/subtitles in, but one thing I’m SURE; if it bothers the person watching the drama/movie it was because it wasn’t appropriate to be written in that drama/movie scene. In any given language, curse words that get translated to Other Language, should really come out of the character’s/actor/actress mouth in that scene, not added by the subber ‘‘out of nowhere.’’

In my personal opinion…

Whether if AMERICAN curse more than Asian: this is all irrelevant here. What’s relevant here that these new subbers (I doubt our many years subbing volunteers are adding this cursed/slang words in the dramas bc they know better). These new subbers are not following guidelines, and much less are respecting the actors/actresses in the drama/movie.

Example: I mentioned a drama where in the subtitle an elderly grandpa was telling his grandson ANYWAYS>>>>(blah, blah, blah).ANYWAYS. No such word exist in the dictionary, and is well known is commonly used by high schoolers (no college educated person would add such thing as a subtitle). I HOPE. So whoever this new subber is decides that this 80 year old grandpa will say ANYWAYS to his grandson (by the way) the little Korean I know the grandpa said IN MY OPINION: [HOWEVER] or even [BUT] and of COURSE, the correct way of saying: ANYWAY.

I watch American TV and curse words are commonly used in scenes with street fights, gang members, mafia guys, but you won’t see them in a family program either. Everything has its place, and even cursed words NEED to be added when it comes out from the mouth of the actor/actress if it was written in the script not made up by the person who is writing the subtitle, and this is exactly what I think is happening here: They are making up words/sentences in dramas maybe to be ''funny? to add contribution account (imo main culprit here) More words, more contribution count for the subber to obtained pass and get to see dramas for free,

[EDITORS] something is going on in that department that is not making sense because they should be able to see this in an instant, and make sure to change that word, and not leave it there in the drama affecting the quality of the subtitles, and EVEN the oimage of the character playing the role.


Not everyone might know the rules. I often try to sanitize the subtitles as much as possible, but that’s because my trainer told me I should do it. I wonder if all the editors receive the same training. Also, it does take quite some time to find good alternatives. I remember spending a lot of time debating on the situation and going through an online thesaurus, trying to find the perfect word. It’s always easier to just leave the curse word as it is.

I believe curse words shouldn’t be translated literally. They should rather be there according to the “feelings”, “motive”, and of course, content.

Let’s imagine a scenario where “stupid” is a curse word.
In East Asia, “stupid” is really-really-really-really rude. You can only use it between super close friends or between people who’d only take it lightly, or when you want to pick fights, or you’re a fearless gangster.

In Middle East, “stupid” is an everyday thing, even mothers can use it for their kids, as if it’s not a curse word at all.

In Africa, it’s rather fierce. If you’re someone with a hot temper, you use it every day and people get offended.

In Indian subcontinent, it’s a banned word. You go to jail or are punished for using it.

In Americas, it’s just a common insult. Middle schoolers use it almost daily.

In Europe, a celebrity once used this word on a live broadcast and was canceled for being “emotionless.”

So if in such a case, if a gangster is fighting for his life and is being hit by a hammer on his head; he tries to retaliate and says, “you stupid!!” in a K-Drama.
Now in this situation, the guy meant he’s fighting for his life in Korean, and if we try to directly translate it to other languages, will the emotion really be translated?

Would you think a Middle Eastern or American would use “stupid” in a scene where he’s fighting for his life, when the word is used almost everyday there? They’ll definitely drop “stupid” and use something fiercer.

Europeans, Africans and people from Indian subcontinent could use it in the same case since they find this word fierce and powerful.

I hope I was able to communicate my scenario well. I don't want the original intent to be lost when translating curse words. It's better to have a scale, where mild curse words or insults are at bottom and fiercer ones rule the top.

All countries have different curse words. Most of the time, there are no equivalents. This isn’t a matter of copyright at all. Take the F word, for example. Before people decided it was their favorite curse word, it meant something, didn’t it? Does “You are f***ing stupid” make any sense when you consider the actual meaning of the word? No. The word has been customized. I won’t know how to use it if I just searched it up without prior knowledge of the use of the word. It’s a culture thing. So we have to take the motive and feelings of the character before translating it to an English equivalent.


It’s the same for idioms as well.
If there’s a Korean saying, “Don’t compare cats and dogs” then we’ll have to convert it to “Don’t compare apples and oranges.”


The Dutch saying is ‘Don’t compare apples and pears’.


Speaking of idioms, I hated translating those. Thai lakorns are full of them. There’s never an English equivalent. I would spend up to an hour trying to find the right wording.

So to explain further I sometimes put notes in the comment section so that viewers can get a better understanding of the context.


Lucky you :desert_island:

For me calling vs reported is more important than b… vs i…

(Bozoli already explained why.)

That’s a good example why translations need to be adjusted to its viewers/readers.

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Netflix has a Spanish show with kings and queens and they mix modern addressing/words and ancient addressings for the same characters/scenes no matter if it is the subtitle or the synced version. I quit watching it bc of that.

(I don’t know how the Spanish version is in this aspect.)


Dutch subtitles in historical drama’s often have the same problem. Sometimes even in the same sentence. It can be really distracting.