Translation might affect a personality image


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.


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.