Your favourite subtitles

You are talking here only about native language skills without the aspect/context of translation, right?

From my experience a major problem here is not mainly the lack of own language in a free use (conversation, dialogue, chat message) but the lack of translation skills and awareness.

I’ve seen so many subs of native speakers who have no problems to use correct language freely but when they translate they’re sometimes worse than translation software, even in regard of correct syntax. (And no matter how often it is mentioned to not translate 1:1 and not stick to English syntax it is often useless and feels as if it is written by another person (free use of own native language vs translated subs in own language).

(I’m not talking about typos. At first I thought people use translation software but then the translation software had better and correct German so the subs were human made, which was somehow unexpected.)

1 Like

You are talking here only about native language skills without the aspect/context of translation, right? If I understand your question, then yes, though I wouldn’t use the term native language, one might lack a native language and ‘truly’(for a lack of a better word) be multilingual (with benefits and negatives). Basically people “claiming” or thinking they have a higher (or lower) skill level than they actually have or what a native speaker would think of their skill.

As for your other points, dumb question, could it be that the problem might be that the translator masters one of the 2 languages well, but less well the other, say native speaker of German/Korean, but basic knowledge of Korean/German? I’ve noticed that some Finnish subs tend to be better, due to the dyslexic aspect, but grammatically and in format, they can sometime feel a little “weird”. I mentioned above that in this one series, they where very informal, in Finnish these things are most often written in the most formal form. They weren’t wrong of incomprehensible. There may be odd formulations etc. However, Finnish is more similar to Korean that the Indo-European languages, in many aspects, so I don’t know if the writer is intentionally trying to convey a certain layer of formal speak to the Finnish viewer or if it is something else. I’m thinking that could the subtitles your speaking of be a failed attempt of the subtitler to represent something that technically doesn’t exist on German? Or is it just pure incompetence? :slight_smile:

1 Like

In my opinion, people tend to overlook how complex a language actually is. Even English. After school, my English was “alright”, but I mainly improved it by reading a lot before receiving education in Business English. During that time we did translations as well and while it was rather easy to translate from English to German the other way around is a completely different matter. It’s about knowing various ways to express something, idioms etc. There’s more to it.

In regard to translations:
“This time that he came, did he tell you anything?”
The Translator says here: “Als er dieses Mal kam, hat er dir etwas erzählt?”
Generally speaking, the sentence is correctly translated by the software. However, you’d avoid this kind of order in German. “Hat er dir etwas erzählt, als er dieses Mal kam?” feels more naturally. Still, it feels a bit weird to use the tense of “kam” since in spoken German you’d usually go for preterit instead:
“Hat er dir etwas erzählt, als er dieses Mal hergekommen ist?”
Now there’s still tons of alternatives
“Hat er dir etwas gesagt, als er dieses Mal hier gewesen ist?”
“Hat er dir etwas erzählt, als er dieses Mal aufgetaucht ist?”
“Hat er dir dieses Mal irgendetwas mitgeteilt, als er hier gewesen ist?”
“Hast du dich mit ihm unterhalten, als er hier gewesen ist?”
There’s tons of possibilities for this sentence and as a good translator it’s your job to find the best one that’s neither too long nor too informal (in this case) nor sound unnatural…
I think that shouldn’t be underestimated, especially if someone considers being an editor.

In Japanese, for example, the order of the sentence often doesn’t fit either. On the other hand, they have formal language (Keigo) while it’s lost when it’s translated into English (similar in Korean). Therefore, I think it’s quite helpful/important as well to have a general understanding of the original language as well. Otherwise, it might really be all literally lost in translation.


i’ve been watching Korean dramas since I subsribed in Viki but when I used Roku stick on my TV, no english subs shows. I have tried going to settings for the English language but it never worked. hopefully someone in the know how could help me with it please and thank you!!!

Will this help?

I think everybody has one or more mother tongues, depending on the personal background.

Once I read an article about Austrian kids that went to an international school in Austria because their Austrian parents thought it is fancy. The result was that although they are born “German” native speakers they were unable to use German on a native speaker level as teenager because the school was teaching in English and French only. For the non Austrian/non German native speakers that didn’t matter because their parents worked in embassy and NGOs or other international surroundings so they’d never spend “a lifetime” at the same place/country (like the Austrian parents).

The authors of the article questioned how much sense it makes to send your kid to an international school when you’re not a part of either the 1% of world citizens or the rich world’s elite (who is also living abroad // mainly in English speaking countries and involved into international business).
Besides it’s not necessary to visit an international school for moving/studying/working abroad. People can still learn a foreign language without losing access to their own language.

About your other question: I don’t know for sure. In some cases it might be a lack of English knowledge, e.g.:

English sentence: Can I ask you for xy?
German translation: Kann ich dich etwas fragen? (= wrong context/meaning)

Correct version: Kannst du [etwas] für mich tun?/ Kann ich dich um einen Gefallen bitten?

Another example is that many German subbers keep “similar to German looking English words” 1:1 even when the meaning is different:


Skrupellos vs scrupulous (= looks similar but opposite! meaning)

English: His parents are departed, so he was left behind alone (and had to move to another home <= next segment, that explains he grow up with relatives then at a different place)

German version: Seine Eltern sind ohne ihn abgereist und haben ihn allein im Haus zurückgelassen. Deshalb musste er in ein anderes Haus gehen.

I also worked with abroad students in my teams who are Chinese native speakers and know German for only 2 years with official language certificate C1.

I did not see such mistakes like above in their subs. The German syntax was also correct most times, just the articles (der/die/das), word gender and cases were sometimes wrong but overall it was not so much (especially in regard of knowing a foreign language for just 2 years).

About the technical aspect: I don’t think that this is the reason because the English sentences who cause wrong context/syntax are too simple for that. That problem might occur with more complex/difficult languages and the attempt to translate them into German. (I read an article about that related to novels and the different ways professional translators use to keep as much as possible of the origin “essence”. It is just possible to a certain degree and they know that in that case the translated versions lose a lot. I forgot which language they used as example. It was neither English nor Chinese).

I don’t consider myself to have one. I haven’t done international schools etc. My language proficiency depends on the day and week. I’ve noticed that people with a native language tend to still most of the time think in their native language, even when their conversing or if their native level proficient in another language. My brain isn’t locked to one language the majority of the time. Growing up I learned multiply languages, from different sources. I learned them befor I studied any of them, meaning before age 7.

The second section:
Those examples you mentioned, for me me, would go in the wired category. Meaning minor stuff, with the format being more important. I usually automatically overlook such thing in the subs. Personally I don’t care about gramar, spelling, conjuctions etc as long as I know what the sub is trying to say, it doesn’t need to say it literally. That’s my take on it.

I think this, as an example, falls under the wierd category. :slight_smile:

YES! I’m SO guilty of that (in writig and when conversing). I have to proofread what I write all the time, (thinking Spanish writing in English or viceversa), and when I don’t (proofread stuff) I know I have messed up big time. But that’s not the worse part: I messed up way too (many times) when using the ‘‘grammatically correct way to write’’ in the 2 different language. Different language: different rules of grammar usage.

‘‘But to err is to be human?’’ The only thing that bothers me the most is: when they use translators (in my native language) to write the whole sentence. Other than that, I can deal with a few spelling mistakes here and there or for example confusing there with their like my oldest son does so often, and no matter how many times I tell him to learn to know the difference between those words, he keeps making the same mistake. I gave up telling him anything anyway. lol

1 Like

Can you read/ write them too and talk about difficult topics in all of them?

Maybe you are someone who learnt like this because you live in circumstances in which a natural approach to languages is possible? (Instead of school focused approach)

I had times I even dreamed in other languages and times I think in other languages, up to the point that I speak/replied in another language to someone who was talking in my native language with me…
So if someone translates to another language mentally from the own language the other language will always be like a foreign body and never integrated.

At the same time this could create more mistakes due to laziness instead of focusing on correct grammar, spelling etc.

I’m not sure if my one example was not clear enough because the English lines look too similar anyway (although the German meaning is different) or if you were talking about Xylune’s examples that show different expressions that include all the same meaning even when the style and colour of the sentence is different.

(I was not talking about such “deep” language aspects that are more a topic for essays, poems or novels than for simple subs that are visible for 2-3 seconds.)

The syntax is always important for me because it defines the easiness of reading.

Exceptions are possible for so-called “Chat German” or gaming slang (which non Germans don’t understand because you cut out much and use a different word order and if I use it for English they also don’t understand it. Gamers usually understand it because they are “trained” to that writing style, including all the shortcuts and specific icons/signs too).

Language is always fluid. If someone knows the correct version of a language it is possible to alter it and create something new, that works also for poems.

(I can’t post the example I have in mind because it is not written in English and a translated version won’t keep what I mean.)

1 Like

Talking about l33t s33k, lol? x)

Good to know I’m not talking out of my a** :D.

Yes, I’m having a discussion in one of them atm. Though, at age 7 english was my weakest language. I remember wividly, the year when I had started school or the second year, there where an exchange student, studying some teaching bachlors or similar. She was from Perth, Australia and came to our school to teach, problem being, she only spoke English. (teaching students here must get practical experiense, by working with their age groups etc before they can complete their academic studies). Everyone where very impressed and suprised that I could ask here many questions in class, in English (with heavy accent and nervous cracking voice (first time talkimg english with an actual native speaker)). Today this is much more common where I’m from, my niece could already argue with me when she was 5 and I tried to trick here and tell her that her favourite, the Disney’s frozen is actually total c**p, by telling her it in English. So, when I was 7 I couldn’t write any of them, but I spoke about 4 languages. Today I can write all of them and I frequently tend to piss someone off, so I get into arguments. I’ve mentioned I’m into politics in other threads, I often as an example get into the nitty gritty of that. If it counts as a ‘difficult’ topic :slight_smile:

I’m from a multilingual environment, the majority of my municipality is majority [Finlands]Swedish speaking, while the surrounding municipalities and country is majority Finnish. Both being official and have state support. I’ve also grown up with a dialect of a several centuries old standard of the swedish language, has more in common with nynorsk (norwegian) that högsvenska (swedish), practically a different language. Etc etc. My daily life is multilingual. Right now writing this, my brain thinks in English, though if someone comes up to me or if I watch a video or something in Finnish, my brain will switch on the fly to that. Etc. I do think it’s the environment.

However, I can pick up a language more easly while ‘living with it’, it does mean I tend to struggle a lot having to ‘learn it’ in a school sense. Also as a dyslexic, I actually don’t know how to write any other language than Finnish (because finnish is phonetic and thus I can hear how to write it instead of knowing), I’ve just memorized thousands of words since childhood individually from different languages.

I think this is the reason why I can overlook the example that we discussed above about english and german. I see more patterns than grammar. So written Dutch isn’t too hard to decode because I recognize the majority of the vocabulary and expressions, even if written with different grammar, language etc. than the other Germanic languages that I do speak.

Watched the Ted talk, makes a lot of sense! Reflecting on what I’ve said here already, I think I’ve applied unknowingly applied those principles as a child learning to speak a language. But in school, then had to learn writing in that ‘wrong’ way. I often felt school got in my way when learning.

1 Like

No, you are not talking out of your a** lmao. You’re good, you’re good. If anything I’m glad you touched this subject, and I hope others can learn something from reading through it since people think others make mistakes, but they don’t.

My annoyance with Spanish subtitles like I said before; that they use the whole sentence that any translator gave/gives them, when it takes such simple steps to rearrange things, and make it your own sentence. I tried so hard a long time ago, in many ways and with many Eng/ Spanish subbers, to help them out. I gave them tips, links that they could use, and learn something more in the process, but most insulted me, and many others join in to insult me. I decided never to work here in any project again as a CM/Moderator.

1 Like

Not leetspeak :grin:

Some examples of a game:

lfg icc cr hc
lfm dds tr myth+
lf sp/ww/dk - wl

The other thing I mentioned is a reduced German e.g. without subjects and other “unnecessary” things but while keeping the language intact though.

Yes, school learning can block some people from learning in a good/easy way.

1 Like