Remember the Netflix series "Squid Game" ?
Last month, when the world was discussing its IP and plot, the Internet saw the hot search physique, and Yiwu saw the opportunity to bring goods. And Youngmi Mayer, a Korean-American comedian, found that the official subtitle translation of "Squid Game" was inadequate, and on Twitter and TikTok, he denounced Netflix for being outrageous and unprofessional.
This complaint aroused the curiosity of passers-by: Huh? Where did Netflix's "subtitle set" come from? Will it be machine translation?
"You may have watched a fake "Squid Game""
It provides subtitles in 31 languages and 13 dubbed versions. It occupies the top spot on Netflix in more than 90 countries and regions. It has reached 142 million views in one month. When the global audience is immersed in the exciting plot of "Game of Squid", Youngmi Mayer But the more I look at it, the more annoyed it becomes.
On October 1, she opened Twitter and wrote :
I watched "Squid Game" with English subtitles. If you don’t understand Korean, you’re not watching the same Squid Game. The translation is terrible, and the character dialogue is well written, but it hardly remains.
Mayer briefly cited two details. She believes that the translation errors in these two places have distorted the personality of the actress.
In the first act, when the actress says "what to watch" in Korean, Netflix's English subtitles are translated as "go away."
In the second act, the actress said, "I'm very smart, but I just didn't have the chance to go to school." It was translated into "I'm not a genius, but I still got it done."
Some netizens soon discovered that Mayer complained about "Closed Caption". If you choose ordinary English subtitles, the translation will be more appropriate, but there is still a difference in meaning from the original line.
▲ Left: closed caption (CC). Right: General subtitles
Korean-American translator James Chung said that the translation of "Game of Squid" did not reflect the character of the actress.
He also added some other translation errors-for example, "oppa" in Korean, which is generally used by women to refer to a closer, slightly older male friend, was incorrectly translated as "old man" in English subtitles. And "baby". In addition, "ajumma" refers to the aunt, but it has been translated as "grandma".
In the discussion about translation quality, some practitioners also popularize audio-visual translation.
First of all, the subtitles of movies and TV series have strict length restrictions, which should be convenient for the audience to read quickly within a few seconds.
Taking Netflix's regulations as an example , a screen can have up to 2 lines of English subtitles, each line cannot exceed 42 letters, and the stay time should be within 7 seconds. How to convey the meaning of lines with a limited number of words has become a major difficulty.
Secondly, closed captioning (CC) is provided for the hearing impaired. In addition to displaying the lines, it also explains what is happening in the screen. Closed captions are generally dubbed subtitles, and their length restrictions are more stringent than ordinary subtitles. It is necessary to keep up with the actors’ lips as much as possible to reduce the audience’s drama and sense of disobedience.
▲ Dubbing & subtitles provided by Netflix
The various cultural differences, word games, homophonic stalks and jokes in film and television dramas are indeed difficult to explain clearly in just a few lines of subtitles. But a lot of Internet discussions also revealed a fact-
The quality of streaming media translation is not good enough, which is often related to the underestimation and lack of respect for the work of the "subtitle group". The workload of the employees is extremely large, the wage level has not increased, but the delivery time is getting shorter and shorter.
The boom brought by Netflix: subtitle translation and dubbing revival
Once you overcome the 1-inch high subtitle barrier, you will see more exciting movies.
In February 2020, when the Korean movie "Parasite" won the best picture Oscar, director Bong Joon-ho stood on stage and said this.
In the past, as long as the movies or TV series shown in the United States were dubbed in English, they generally did not have subtitles by default, and many English-speaking audiences did not have the habit of watching subtitles when watching a drama. This has become one of the reasons why it is difficult for foreign language films to conquer Hollywood.
But with the rise of streaming media such as Netflix and targeting globalization, the situation has changed. So far, Netflix has more than 200 million subscribers in 190+ countries and regions, and most of its self-made content is in non-English. Disney+, HBO Max, etc. are also actively participating in the "global melee."
Translation is required every time a new market is opened. Subtitles and dubbing are no longer regarded as simple supplementary services, but a key part of content localization.
Netflix does not have an internal "subtitle group" and rarely uses technology to automatically generate subtitles. Generally, they will find suitable subtitles and dubbing studios around the world to cooperate. Some believe that the streaming media boom has brought a renaissance to the subtitle and dubbing industry.
It is of course a good thing to come to live, but David Lee , CEO of Iyuno-SDI Studio, pointed out that the industry is facing a shortage of translation talents, and the supply will fall short of demand in the next two to three years.
No one translates, no dubbing, no mixing—the industry does not have enough resources to do these things.
▲ Picture from ZOO Digital , one of Netflix's partners
Chris Fetner worked at Netflix for 9 years and was responsible for formulating the platform's localization strategy. He compared the current subtitling and dubbing industry to a "sponge that can no longer absorb water." Some practitioners even push away the jobs they find every day, saying that they will not be able to accept new translation needs until 2022.
The workload is large, the delivery time is getting shorter and shorter, and the salary is not high. Take Netflix's public price standard as an example . The translation of English subtitles for Korean dramas is US$13 per minute, but only a small part of it will eventually reach the translator's pocket.
In an interview with The Guardian , Anne Wanders , a freelancer who is engaged in subtitle translation, said that she does not recommend others to enter the industry-because the pay per minute is below the minimum wage standard, it is difficult to support yourself by this job. possible.
And when experienced subtitle translators leave the industry for various reasons, they will be replaced by amateurs, part-timers, students, etc. It takes time to re-train translators, which will affect the quality of subtitles to a certain extent.
▲ Although there is no "subtitle group" internally, Netflix has a set of standard tools
The shortage of talents in the subtitling and dubbing industry is also reflected in the literal translation of small languages.
Take "Squid Game" again as an example. If you want to promote the show to the French market, the industry will generally output English subtitles first, and then translate French on this basis-in other words, if the translation of English subtitles is misinterpreted , The French version is also problematic, even more outrageous. This conversion process will inevitably lose more information and details, resulting in lower subtitle quality.
The Tower of Babel in the Age of Streaming
Netflix's "Squid Game" is not the only one to be complained about. Recently, Disney+ was launched in South Korea, and because of translation quality issues , it received a bunch of bad reviews in the app store . Some users left comments saying that the quality of subtitles is not as good as Netflix, and even "not as good as Google Translate."
You can say that good subtitles and dubbing are the "Tower of Babel" in the age of streaming media-they can overcome language barriers, take you into the world of a film and television drama, understand the producer's ideas, and even make you fall in love with a stranger The culture of the country.
The failed localization not only produces a sense of separation and distance, and it is difficult to help express the work, but it will inevitably bring harm to Netflix's business.
The Entertainment Globalization Association conducted a study . They sampled 15,000 streaming media users in Spain, Germany, France and Italy, and found that 61% of them had experienced subtitles or dubbing with poor quality every month. Condition. In the end, 70% of people cancelled their paid subscriptions in the last year.
While lacking a headache for translation talents, whether it is a streaming media giant such as Netflix or a localization service provider such as Iyuno-SDI, they are exploring whether technology can replace manual translation.
But at present, they have reached similar conclusions: the quality of machine translation is not enough to replace humans, and at most it can only be used to simplify the process of generating the first draft of the translation.
In addition, in addition to exploring alternatives, Netflix will also introduce more experienced translators for major projects to improve the quality of subtitles.
According to restofworld.org , after the "Squid Game" subtitles aroused heated discussion, Netflix hired Sharon Choi to double- check the subtitles. At last year's Oscars ceremony, Sharon Choi was the translator of Korean director Bong Joon-ho.
Earlier, Netflix also announced that the "Three-Body" TV series will invite Liu Yukun, the English translator of the original novel, as a consultant producer, hoping to ensure the accuracy of the presentation.
▲English version of "Three Body"
On the other hand, the subtitling and dubbing industries are also trying to fight for their own rights. France’s ATAA Association is lobbying the French National Film Agency, hoping to set a minimum wage for all subtitle translators. Association President Isabelle Miller said :
If you think that "paying more money to do a good job of translation" is meaningless, then is it necessary to make this movie?
This is not a problem for the Netflix family, it will be a big problem for all streaming media to move towards globalization.
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