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Subtitle opinions needed - Japanese speaker says one word in English - what should I do?

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Eric Bowman
Subtitle opinions needed - Japanese speaker says one word in English - what should I do?
on Jun 6, 2010 at 4:07:52 pm

So, I'm doing a series of videos that have Japanese interviewees speaking mostly Japanese, but a few of them throw in an English word. Other times it's a Japanese person speaking English and we give Japanese subtitles. My client thinks we need to clarify everything.

For example at one point the interviewee says the word music, and my client thinks we need to do something like (music=音楽). She's suggesting that we have a different colored line of subtitles that explain the word, or have it inline with the rest of the translation. Personally if it wasn't for having the timecode to reference it, I would have not noticed the English word...but I'm not bilingual so maybe it's not as distracting.

I'm inclined to just leave it as is, as I think it would get more distracting if we explain those and clutter up the frame. But I'll be honest this is the first project I've had to add subtitles to, so I don't know if there's a standard way to deal with this scenario.

Any suggestions? I want to make the client happy of course, but I don't want it to be too distracting and busy at the same time.

Eric Bowman


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Bouke Vahl
Re: Subtitle opinions needed - Japanese speaker says one word in English - what should I do?
on Jun 6, 2010 at 5:04:51 pm

Few basic rules of sutbtitling:

You translate everything. If a single word is in the target language, pick it along or you won't have a logic sentence.

You translate everything. Including all foul language. (that's where you have to get creative and know you swear words)

You translate everything. That means also you need to know local habits. Some languages don't use the word 'no', if you know the speaker means 'no' where he says 'yes', you translate with 'no'.

You translate everything. That means you don't explain, you translate in a way that the viewers know what is going on.

You DON'T translate everything, if that means the readspeed gets too high. In that case, you shorten so readspeed requirements are met.
(rule of thumb, speak out LOUD the translated sentence. If you can do so in the time the title is up, you're save.
(Be afraid of things like double negative, as that takes huge human processing time!)

You NEVER EVER use color. It's not CC, it's not for deaf.
Color looks ugly/distracting.

And you don't use more than two lines, and stick to less than 42 chararctes a line.

hth,





Bouke

http://www.videotoolshed.com/
smart tools for video pros


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Eric Bowman
Re: Subtitle opinions needed - Japanese speaker says one word in English - what should I do?
on Jun 6, 2010 at 5:17:53 pm

I GREATLY appreciate the pointers. Very helpful. I take it I should translate everything...haha. :)

So according to what you wrote, we should just place the Japanese symbols inline with the english? I just want to be clear. We don't explain it like (music=音楽), but instead do something like this (sans quotes).

"I studied 音楽 while in America."

???

Eric Bowman


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Bouke Vahl
Re: Subtitle opinions needed - Japanese speaker says one word in English - what should I do?
on Jun 6, 2010 at 6:04:25 pm

No, just put:
I've studied English while i was in America.

If you translate to english, what's the point of including Japanese characters in the subs?

Occasions where you do need tricks like this are in movies where people go back to slang / dialects / foreign languages intended NOT to understand by other people on screen.

But if someone is just making a point, make the same point in the target language.



Bouke

http://www.videotoolshed.com/
smart tools for video pros


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Eric Bowman
Re: Subtitle opinions needed - Japanese speaker says one word in English - what should I do?
on Jun 6, 2010 at 6:15:21 pm

Thanks for the reply but I don't think you understand where I'm going with this.

It's the word music, not English just to clarify. Here's the issue. If you are a Japanese person that DOES NOT speak English and you are watching the video, when the Japanese person on camera mixes English words with Japanese it might get confusing. So the interviewee in this case is speaking 90% Japanese and then throws in the english word music. If you are a Japanese person with no English comprehension, my client thinks it would be good to put the equivalent of the english word in Japanese so the viewer can understand it. Does that make sense?

If you are a Japanese viewer you'll pick up 90% of the meaning from the audio and you won't understand the english subtitles at all, but if there's a word or two of Japanese in the subtitles it might explain the english word you heard.

That's my client's thinking anyway. I'm not sure if it's needed. In my opinion you'll figure it out based on the context of the sentence, but I'm not used to doing subtitles like this. In a perfect world the interviewees would not have spoken a single word of English and only Japanese, or vice versa.


Eric Bowman


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Bouke Vahl
Re: Subtitle opinions needed - Japanese speaker says one word in English - what should I do?
on Jun 6, 2010 at 6:23:53 pm

Ah, now i get it...

Japanese people who watch the movie with mainly english subs will NEVER EVER look at the subs.

So even if you put in the single word, they will not notice it.

You translate for just one language.
(well, in Belgium they sometimes translate to both French and Dutch at the same time, but that is very, very rare...)

So, either forget about it, (as you stated people get it by context anyway), or add a second subtitle track. (if it's for DVD or internet, that's easy)

hth,


Bouke

http://www.videotoolshed.com/
smart tools for video pros


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Eric Bowman
Re: Subtitle opinions needed - Japanese speaker says one word in English - what should I do?
on Jun 6, 2010 at 6:34:03 pm

Yeah while I mostly agree with what you are saying, my client just explained this further. I think this is going to be needed somewhere. Also I'm not making this as a subtitle for a DVD etc...it's for online distribution only so there's no way for you to select subtitles for English or Japanese, they are just rendered with the movie.

So take this for example. The interviewee says the english words "naked eyes"...this apparently has no easy translation into Japanese or at least would be very odd to a Japanese person without having a definition.

I'm think I have to treat it like a footnote, or a brief definition of the word. I'm leaning towards adding an italic subtitle with only Japanese below the English subtitles. That way it's separate from the English subtitles that the typical Japanese person is going to ignore (totally agree with that comment).

Does that make sense?

Eric Bowman


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B.J. Ahlen
Re: Subtitle opinions needed - Japanese speaker says one word in English - what should I do?
on Jun 6, 2010 at 7:01:44 pm

[Eric Bowman] "So take this for example. The interviewee says the english words "naked eyes"...this apparently has no easy translation into Japanese or at least would be very odd to a Japanese person without having a definition."

That is a special case. The Japanese like to use foreign English words because they think they sound interesting. Within a text in Kanji (the "Chinese" ideograms) and/or Kana, these should be kept in English and will be readable by educated people.

If you have to show viewers how to pronounce the foreign words, Hiragana can be used. This is a Japanese alphabet (not ideograms) that is useable for this purpose. And there are more ways...

The intended meaning of "naked eyes" may be something completely different, or it may be more of a decoration of the speech.

Like on this paper towel package that has English words added to look cool.



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matthew bradshaw
Re: Subtitle opinions needed - Japanese speaker says one word in English - what should I do?
on Jun 6, 2010 at 8:45:22 pm

Client = the person whose opinion counts. I think that is the same in all languages.
;) Matt.



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B.J. Ahlen
Re: Subtitle opinions needed - Japanese speaker says one word in English - what should I do?
on Jun 6, 2010 at 9:48:01 pm

[matthew bradshaw] "Client = the person whose opinion counts. I think that is the same in all languages."

So when the client e-mails you asking for a title sequence that says CLEINT in big, bold letters at the top, you give it to them, right?

:O)

Seriously, I have always felt a need to protect clients from themselves when necessary.

Some clients overruled me, which I accepted of course.

And then I got paid to fix it afterwards, and they trusted me a bit more next time.



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