Elements of Accurate Translation
Whereas captions and same-language subtitles focus solely on conveying the audio in text, translation requires an additional level of care. Our translators take the time to understand the meaning of the spoken word, interpreting what is said and conveying the meaning in the target language. The following elements must be addressed to ensure an accurate and effective translation.
Common examples of idiomatic expressions include:
- “The early bird gets the worm.”
- “How about them apples.”
- “Bite the bullet”
- “A dime a dozen.”
All of these popular English idioms, and many more, contain a vastly different meaning than is conveyed by the actual order of the words. Translators must take the time and energy to first define the true meaning of an idiom, and then convey that in the target language.
There is only so much space on the screen for subtitles. In TV, it can be limited to 30 characters per line; in digital and online formats, that count is extended, but still limited. Our translators must preserve the meaning of the audio, but keep sentences as short as possible to fit them to the screen and ensure the subtitles aren’t presented too fast. This applies to English to some extent, but is even more important in languages that use different alphabets, from Arabic to Cyrillic and Korean to Japanese.
Video translation includes not only audio, but on-screen text. Imagine if the famous crawl at the start of every “Star Wars” movie was presented in a language you didn’t understand, or if a love letter presented by a main character was only shown in pictures. It is the job of the translator to translate this text to ensure the viewer understands the meaning behind it.
Other examples of on-screen text we translate include:
- Road signs