4 Common Subtitling Mistakes that Make Translatory Works Ineffective

Businesses looking to reach international audiences rely on translatory works to get their message heard, received and acted upon.

These works can be in the form of simple text-to-text translations, voiceovers or subtitles.

Although each of these come with their unique set of challenges, subtitling can be the trickiest to handle.

Because subtitling involves working with text, audio and video – all at the same time.The elements need to be in perfect harmony; even a subtle contextual difference (in text, audio or video) can disturb the actual communicative context, recreating a depiction that is likely to be a mistranslated version of the original content.

Naturally, due to the involved sophistication, subtitling work is prone to mistakes and many of these mistakes follow a common pattern.

In this blog, we review some of the subtitling mistakes that make translatory works ineffective…

Focusing on literal translations

Every language has some words and phrases that cannot be translated in a literal sense. Or, where a literal translation may seem possible, the final translated work might carry too many characters that canend up disrupting the flow of expression.

It’s therefore important that when working on subtitles, you should focus on capturing the essence of the original words rather than trying to literally translate them into a foreign language.

Using too many characters in a line

Spectators have a limited reading speed. Overloading subtitle lines with excessive characters will only make it difficult for them to read the lines. Also, using too many characters in a line can potentially obscure the view.

This may happen because of negligence on the translator’s part, or as we discussed earlier, it may happen when a translator tries to focus too much on literal translations. Such cases usually happen when working with Spanish translations.

Using Google for translation

Google provides free translation services. For many business owners, this could be tempting. However, these translations are hardly ever accurate. Especially those, where you have to translate a phrase or group of words.

Avoid using Google Translate or any other machine driven translation services for that matter. Try a human being instead!

Using a speech style that does not fit the personality of the speaker

Words carry emotions and personality. As such, they should complement the personality of the speaker. If you have designed an advertisement in which your main character is being played by a 70-year-old woman, but the speech style you have used is that of a young girl, your audience won’t resonate with your message.

Always select and structure words that go with the personality of the speaker.

There are many other subtitling mistakes and it’s near impossible to cover them all in one blog post.

Just remember, exercise good judgement, common sense and a thorough analysis during the subtitle creation process and you would be able to avoid most of the subtitling mistakes.

If you need help with a subtitling project for your business marketing campaign, feel free to reach out; our language translation agency experts will be happy to serve you.

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