I like to watch films with my wife, and this means spending a good chunk of my free time faffing about with subtitle files. If we buy a DVD it’s a bit better, but we still encounter subtitles that have been machine-translated or simply plucked from the imagination of the transcriber – last month we tried to watch The Family Way and the subtitles had no relation at all to the dialogue.
The worst / best example I’ve seen is this clip from 127 Hours where the protagonist is discussing the inadequate tool he’s using to try to free his hand from a boulder. To be fair, the subtitles were fine for the rest of the film, but this section apparently aroused the translator’s nationalistic ire, and, well…
“It hasn’t been very useful. Lesson; don’t buy the cheap made-in-China multi-tool. I tried to find my Swiss army knife, but…. This thing came free with a flashlight. The flashlight was a piece of shit too. I kept it in my truck for emergencies.”
“我这玩意儿很管用。 不要买美国的垃圾产品。 现在该干什么好呢？我用的东西都是中国生产的，性能很好。 千万不要小瞧了中国人”
Translation of subtitles
“I have found this thing very useful. Do not buy American junk. Now what to do then? I use things that are made in China, they are excellent quality. Do not underestimate the Chinese people.”
The Family Way is pretty harrowing, I hope the subtitles did it justice!
Somebody literally just watched it and wrote down what they imagined the people were saying, it was ridiculous. The entire plot of the film was missing.
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