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Old August 7th 08, 18:02   #61
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Re: Lord of the Rings?

That would still be worthy of translation.

No, that's just a job done poorly. Nothing more to it than that (I mean it isn't someone's idea of the "right way" to translalate, I'm sure).
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Old August 7th 08, 19:31   #62
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Re: Lord of the Rings?

Originally Posted by hypatia View Post
Personally, I'd hate that job (translating).
How about the "on the fly translation" jobs?

Once, in the late 1980's, I went to a technical conference called "Topographic Applications of SPOT Data" (SPOT being a French acronym for the 1980's French equivalent of Landsat). It was in Quebec; half the papers were presented in English and half in French. They had the translator booths in the back and handed out little transistor radios with the ear buds for one ear. French was the language that I took in HS and college, but I wasn't anywhere near fluant enough to go without using the ear bud. However, it was very odd hearing a language that I kinda understood in one ear, and then my native language echoing the concept a half sentence or a sentence behind in the other ear.

They were professional translators, fully fluant in both languages. However, this was a *technical* conference where people were talking about such things as orbital mechanics and measuring parallax between two points of view. You know ........ vocabulary that the vast majority of people don't have in their *native* language. Since I kinda understood French, knew the subject vocab in English, and the French and English words for those sorts technical terms tend to come directly from the same Latin roots ...... That week I spent a lot of time thinking "I don't think that's really what he said.".

Originally Posted by hypatia View Post
I had a friend in high school who knew enough of German to watch films like "Das Boot" and not have to read much of the subtitles. Once she said, though (about the subtitles) "hey, THAT's not accurate, that's not what he said".
I do that fairly regularly with French movies ..... even though I'm still *definitely* not fluant.

Often (though certainly not always) it has to do with a priority that comes into translation specifically in the case of subtitles:


When you've got a character ranting a mile a minute ....... or worse, a couple characters *both* jabbering a mile a minute at each other ...... there is not a chance in the world that you can get *all* of it to be on the screen long enough for the audience to read safely while also sticking to the conventions of only having 2 or 3 lines on the screen at a time *and* putting other characters' interjected lines on separate lines for clarity.

So subtitles often end up with a sort of "condensed Readers Digest" versions of that kind of high tempo dialog.

That can really hurt comedies, where *all* of the "funny" comes from the interplay details that are lost in the shortening.

Possibly the oddist phenomenon that I remember seeing in subtitles is something that I've seen exactly twice:

English subtitles of a French movie containing a word or two of French (that has managed to cross into commonly recognized English usage), when the original French did *not* use that word or phrase.

Originally Posted by Jade Jaguar View Post
I think idioms should be translated literally, when they will be understood, to give some of the flavor of the language. Of course, sometimes they wouldn't be understood at all.
Even when the basics are understandable, you can quickly get onto some very slippery ground that way. A lot of times there are connotations or undertones on one side that are simply not there at all on the other side.

For example, take the way the French sometimes use "petite" as a noun. I don't think that I've seen that just litterally translated as "little", and I can understand why. In the first place, it would read very oddly in Eglish, where that adjective is never left dangling like that. Possibly more importantly, in that usage an American might very well feel (even if they didn't consciously think it) an undertone of condascension (and quite possibly sexism) in a term of endearment that carried no such connotation .

Originally Posted by Jade Jaguar View Post
One film, title escapes me at the moment, has a very dramatic scene between a man and a woman. It ends with him asking her a question, and she answers. Except, they don't bother to translate her answer...
Most of the time when I've seen that happen, it was when the answer was a stand-alone "yes" or "no", often with the accompanying nod or head shake. Those tend to be pretty clear, though. It sounds like this was more involved response than that.

I've also seen movies stop bothering to subtitle short stand-alone words or phrases that keep getting repeated. I remember one French movie much of which took place in an umbrella shop. People were constantly entering and exiting. After the first 3 or 4 times, they stopped bothering to subtitle all of the exchanges of "Bonne soire" ("good evening"). ("If you've been paying any attention at all, you should have figured out 'bonne soire' by now!" )

There are also certan words of certain languages that subtitle writers often assume that most people will understand when they stad alone. (It's different when they are buried inside a longer sentence.) For example, "merci" in French and "adios" in Spanish are a couple that subtitles often don't bother with when they all by themselves.
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