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  • 6 Common Subtitle Errors to Avoid

    Certified Translation

    Are you planning to create a subtitled video for your business? You should know in advance that it's harder than it looks, and it's common for inexperienced translators to make subtitling blunders. Here are just a few errors that you should beware of, which are also a clear indication why you should always go for professional service.


    Literal Translations


    Literal translations aren't always the best translations. This is especially true in subtitled videos where the translator has to convey tone, meaning, and nuance in a few short sentences at the bottom of the screen. They don't have the luxury of including footnotes in such fast-moving content.


    Accuracy is essential, of course, so you don't want a translator that takes too many liberties. But overly literal subtitles can be just as much of a problem as overly creative ones. Cultural context matters. This holds whether you want to subtitle a video or translate a document from English to Spanish.


    Making Foreign Assumptions


    You know what they say about assuming things, and it holds true in translations as well as real life.


    It's extremely risky to make assumptions about the content that you're translating, especially when you aren't from that culture. Not every translator realizes this fact, so they apply their morals, biases, and misconceptions to their subtitles. They filter their translations through their interpretations of the scene.


    The result can be culturally deaf at best and offensively inaccurate at worst. It's best to hire a Spanish to English document translator that doesn't make assumptions at all and have their work based on proper study and research.


    Using Machine Translations


    Machine translation (MT) had come a long way from the days when it was more likely to produce gibberish than real conversations. However, it's still not a substitute for human translation.


    Machine translation cannot understand the context. In a complicated linguistic scenario, it can't make a judgment call about the right words or phrases to use. In most cases, it can't even double-check its translations for accuracy before sending them off into the world.


    You don't want your brand reputation to suffer because a faulty software program puts words in your mouth. Whether you're looking for Russian to English subtitles or a Spanish to English document translator, make sure that you hire real people and not computer services.


    Conveying Speech Styles


    This can be a tricky thing in languages like Spanish. Some people speak politely; others speak casually. The same words can be said with different formality levels depending on the person's age, status, location, and social group.


    Wrong subtitles will make everyone sound like they're speaking in the same way. Good subtitles will convey individual speech styles that include tone, meaning, inflection, and intention.


    If you want to understand the importance of translating speech styles, sit back, and listen to the different voices in your next group conversation. Take in all of the subtle ways that people communicate differently. You'll start to realize why high-quality translation services are worth investing in.


    Poor Timing


    If you've ever seen a poorly-dubbed movie, you understand what bad timing looks like and can do to your interest in the movie. It's when the character screams, "No!" but his mouth doesn't move for another five seconds. In subtitles, the "Nein!" might appear before or after they speak.


    Subtitles need to be correctly timed to be efficient. Not only does it look amateurish when the audio and video don't match, but your audience might completely lose track of who's saying what in a busy conversation where the subtitles are delayed.


    Take your time with subtitles. Get their times right. A little diligence today can pay off tomorrow.


    Line Break Issues


    Line breaks happen when long strings of text are broken into segments. If a person is giving a speech, for example, you don't want the entire screen to be covered with words. You want one- or two-line subtitles at the bottom of the screen that updates as the speech goes along.


    There are a lot of mistakes that an amateur can make with line breaks, so you'll want to choose a translation service that understands subtitles and how they work. Look for people with experience in the industry who can tackle line breaks and anything else that the job throws their way!


    Maybe you want to translate a document from English to Spanish. Maybe you want to create subtitles for a Spanish or English video. Whatever your reasons for seeking professional translation services, we at the Spanish Group can help you with quality service at the most competitive price. Give us a call to get started!