Principles and strategies of film subtitle translation under the influence of 3 necessary cross-cultural factors

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Principles and Strategies of film subtitle translation under the influence of cross-cultural factors
After thousands of years of multiplication, various countries and nations have formed unique regions, customs, religions, historical cultures and habits of thinking. These factors have influenced and integrated with each other, and gradually penetrated into their respective languages and cultures.

Cross-regional language film subtitle translation is a kind of cross-cultural communication, which should not only be limited to understanding its superficial information, but also grasp the social background and cultural connotation behind it.

The difference in language makes the text of the film need a conversion, and the cultural difference puts forward higher requirements for subtitle translation. Therefore, the creative team must take the question, “how to make the subtitle translation keep pace with the times, follow the local customs, and promote a good viewing effect”, into consideration when entering the international market.

Principles and strategies of film subtitle translation in cross-cultural communication environment

Therefore, the translators should comply with the following principles and strategies when making film subtitle translation under the circumstance of cross-cultural communication:

Firstly, translations should be in line with the characters features. In other words, creating and developing typical characters is one of the important principles to ensure the success and impressiveness of a movie. The audience can recognize different characters not only by the basic appearance, clothing, and behavior, but also by their words. Sometimes, Different pitches, intonations, and even speaking speeds may reveal different personality traits and identities of the characters. Therefore, when translating subtitles, we must pay attention to making the words close to the characters themselves.

  • Secondly, movie languages must be readable. At least it reads catchy and has a distinct rhythm, which is in line with the language characteristics of the movie protagonist. The ideal readability state is when the length, mouth shapes, and rhymes of the translated text are consistent with the original text.
  • Thirdly, movie languages should be simple and easy to understand. Since movie text usually appears in the audience’s vision in the form of one or two lines quickly, if the content of the subtitles is obscure, then it becomes an obstacle for the audience to watch and understand the movie. Therefore, when making subtitle translation, it is important to use some concise phrases or easy-to-understand buzzwords for audience’s better understanding.
  • Last but not the least, pay attention not to use too many annotations. Due to the cultural differences between the source language and the target language, translators prefer to using annotations to help the audience better understand some sentences that appear in the movie. It is helpful to break the cultural gaps without any doubt. However, we advocate showing the integrity and beauty of the film through concise language instead.
film subtitle translation

Preparation for multicultural movie subtitle translation

In the context of cross-cultural factors, translators should consider the impact of customs, religious differences, historical background, habits of thinking and cultures when making movie subtitle translation. First of all, analyze the cultural differences between the original and target languages before starting. Furthermore, explore the cultural connotation behind the languages, so that to realize cultural equivalence and meet the needs of the target audience.

Although cultural differences prevent film subtitle translation from being definitely perfect, perhaps this is the charm of different languages.

Combination of online AI movie subtitle translation and multi-cultural languages

At present, we have entered the first year of short videos and movies.
More and more related film and television content requires cross-cultural subtitle translation. However, translating movie subtitles purely manually from scratch is a very time-consuming and labor-intensive task. In the current context of the rapid rise of AI, it may be a more time-saving and labor-saving option to use an AI subtitle translation tool to generate a subtitle outline, and then manually modify and polish it.

Looking forward to seeing you next time.

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