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Movie translations – industry tendencies

Movie translations – industry tendencies

Movie translations

movie translations

Nowadays we are experiencing a growth in movie translations, as many producers realize that a market exists for movies outside the US.

Translating a movie is much more complex than it seems, considering that the translation must express the exact same feeling and situation as the original script. Otherwise it can be seen as a different movie, even though the images are the same.

According to former Shanghai Film Dubbing Studio (SFDS) director Cao Lei, “the art of translating films is to be able to reproduce the style of the original movie, the meaning of the script and the characters of the people, letting audience enjoy the original movie as far as possible. It is not that vernacular expressions are forbidden. If the original film uses a lot of street language, we have to use as much in our translations”.

A translated movie can be considered:

  • The original movie, with the same audio recordings but with subtitles.
    • In this situation, the movie script is handed to the translator who must keep in mind certain rules when subtitling.
    • Also, sometimes when the movie title is translated, the meaning changes, but this has the purpose of achieving the same impact as the original title.
  • The original movie with the audio track in the desired language which is called a dubbed movie.
    • Dubbing is the replacement of the original dialogue track with the translation in the desired language.
    • The script is sent to a translator, just as it is for subtitles. After that, the process is more complicated because the manager must add annotations for sound, music and special effects which go hand-in-hand with each actor’s voice.
    • A very important aspect in dubbing is to replicate the intonation and expressions of the original audio track.

There are of course situations especially regarding movie titles, when the message gets lost in translation.

Here are some examples of this kind of misinterpretation for movie translations:

  • – the movie “The Full Monty” in China is translated into “Six Naked Pigs
  • – “Get Smart” in Taiwan got translated into “Is the Spy Capable or Not?
  • – “American Pie” in Hong Kong resulted in “American Virgin Man
  • – “Grease” in Argentina was translated into “Vaseline” which makes you think it is a totally different movie
  • – “As Good As It Gets” in China is “Mr. Cat Poop

As a native of any of these countries, there is a good chance you won’t get what you asked for if you pick the movie only according to its title.

The most common form of movie translation is through subtitles and one of the reasons is that in many cities in Europe, dubbing is considered as a barrier to multilingualism, a reason backed-up by statistics, which say that the understanding of the English language is greater in those countries.

Lu Yaorong, a 27-year-old translator with SFDS, mentioned that “the advantage of a dubbed version is that you don’t have to think hard to know what they are talking about. The Chinese dialogue has explained everything adequately”.

With either subtitles or dubbing, the most important factor is to retain the humor, suspense or drama of the original script in the target language.

No matter what your needs are when it comes to movie translations, No Borders Translations is here for you, so contact us any time of the day at [email protected]

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