Subtitles – translations and fun combined!

The area of translations is rather wide and encompassing, even if we consider only online jobs. I’d say that the most typical form of translations is still document / resource-based translations. Essentially it means textual content that can be extracted, isolated and then translated, either in a manual fashion or resorting to CAT tools (computer-assisted translation). You can also do DTP (desktop-publishing), transcreation (more creative than literal translations) or transcriptions that change the original language. A rather different type of translations exists in the entertainment world, in the area of subtitles.

I think subtitles are one of those things that everybody thinks about every once in a while. And for sure you think about it A LOT if you watch many movies or TV shows like I do. Who hasn’t ever thought “Oh, I would subtitle that a little differently…” or “Damn, that’s not what they said at all!”? For me, starting to work in subtitles was a magical experience exactly because of this latent relationship we all have with them. The feeling of watching a piece of art with your own subtitles is very rewarding, and it makes the whole process not tedious but a pleasure, unlike some of the most traditional translation methods. Also, I don’t think that it’s an obvious subset of translations that comes into mind when one starts in this business, so if you haven’t thought about it before, I’m reminding you now!

Having a movie or TV show with your subtitles is a flattering experience!

There’s a small technical detail that I should mention before you start searching for subtitling jobs right away though. Officially, “subtitling” means transcribing and time coding the media you’re working on. In that process, you may or may not translate the content, so by default “subtitling” is not even about translating. However, translation companies working in subtitles generally provide you with an EMF. That stands for English Master File and it completely changes the way you work. The EMF means that the original burden of subtitling was already performed by someone else. Thus, you can focus on the exciting and challenging task of just TRANSLATING.

Now, “translating subtitles” (this is the more appropriate phrasing) is not all fun and games. There are some things you have to pay attention to, although in my opinion, the fun of doing it greatly outweighs those downsides. In fact, I look at them as challenges that make me a better translator, and to be honest, without them this area wouldn’t be as rewarding as it is. In the next weeks, I’ll let you know of the ups and downs of this amazing translation subset!

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