Can Subtitle Translations Meet The Standarts Today?
Today, it has become very easy to access foreign content through the internet or television due to the technology that is spreading and developing. This content can sometimes be a short video, an episode of series, or a feature movie, and even a computer game story. Subtitle translation is one of the best ways to use in order to make these content understandable to the audience without losing their authenticity. So, do these translations that we need on almost every platform meet the standards?
Firstly, I want to mention the visual and aesthetic aspects of the subtitles. When we look from this point of view, the expectations of the audience and the standards being provided are not very different. No one wants to encounter with subtitles that are more attention-grabbing than the content or cannot be seen. Visual features that need to be provided based on subtitle standards are usually the color and font selection, the number of lines and inline characters, the position and the size of the subtitles on the screen. These standards play a major role in the viewer’s ability to make use of both subtitles and content in a satisfactory and quality manner. The subtitle is usually at the bottom of the screen where the image in the background is the least important. Of course, it’s possible to move the subtitle up in the start and end sections in order to avoid blocking the captions given under the screen. Apart from that, it’s generally convenient to use sans-serif fonts that are easy to read. It’s ideal to use white characters with a black background to avoid eye strain and different colors to distinguish the characters when multiple characters speak. Due to avoid blocking the image, subtitles usually consist of one or two lines, and there is a limit on the number of characters per line that can be changed according to the language.
Secondly, timing adjustment is as important as the visual features of subtitles. The leading-in time, lagging-out time and the duration of subtitles on the screen can shift the audience’s interest to subtitle from the content. Therefore, these timings must be determined correctly. For instance, a subtitle that remains on the screen more than necessary after the dialogue ends will cause the audience to read the subtitle again and again. This situation reduces the quality and interest.
If everything is taken into consideration, subtitle translation should be done very carefully in order to meet these standards. Syntactic or cultural differences between the source language and the target language can cause exceptional differences in these standards. Apart from these standards, the context and cultural elements should be taken into consideration as in every field of translation. The idioms, proverbs and even slang words that are used must be transferred in the most correct way to the target culture. When qualifications like these are provided, the efficiency of subtitles and subtitle translations will increase considerably. If we answer the question that we asked at first, although these standards are currently being implemented, most of them are not provided in most of the content. And, this is the point that professionalism is involved in the job. This is where the importance of professionalism comes up in translation. Leaving subtitle translations to people who are master of their domain and leaving other options behind, will be the accurate method in this regard.