Archive for Subtitles

Taiwanese romanization and subtitles

Song by a Taiwanese band with sinographic and romanized transcriptions of the lyrics in the center and Mandarin translation at the bottom as subtitles, via Bilibili:

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Auto-translated subtitles from auto-generated subtitles

Mark Metcalf learned something new this Monday morning: YouTube not only provides subtitles, but if the subtitles haven't been created in English, it can generate/translate them on the fly – at least for German. Doesn't seem to be available for Chinese yet.

Select 'CC' at the bottom left of the right side of the video window menu bar to auto-generate the German subtitles. Then click on the gear icon and select auto-translate, from which pick English. You should see English subtitles in near real-time.
The results are mind-boggling:  fast as greased lightning and impressively accurate.
Mark tried it out on this interview with the Latvian mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča at the Wiener Staatsoper about her role as Kundry in Wagner's »Parsifal«.  Mark noted that the auto-subtitle generator / translator seems to render the character name "Kundry" as "customer".  He's right.

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Inverted writing in video subtitles: traditional cotton processing

In an off-topic comment (4/27/08), DDeden requested an English translation of the subtitles of a video about "Cotton: from fluff to dyed cloth the traditional Chinese way" (the video is embedded in this tweet).  It seemed a worthwhile endeavor, since the film itself was visually quite informative, though the subtitles looked rather sketchy.

I asked Zhang He, who is familiar with this kind of traditional technology, if she could transcribe the subtitles and give us an idea of what they say. She kindly obliged us by writing the following, extended comment, which I give in full with transcription and translation, both because of its innate value and because of the extraordinary circumstances under which she did it (described at the bottom).

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Why we all need subtitles now

[10:42 video — entertaining and informative]

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Fusion food ad featuring fusion script

[This is a guest post by Bernhard "번하드" Riedel from Munich]

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Pinyin in subtitles

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A recent Shanghainese movie

[This is a guest post by Zihan Guo, who was a student in my "Language, Script, and Society in China" class this past semester.]

A movie titled "Àiqíng shénhuà 愛情神話" ("Myth of Love / B for Busy") just came out on the 24th in China, which soon became warmly received by the public. It narrates the story of three distinctive Shanghainese women who come to know each other through one man. Here is a trailer

The most attractive aspect is the usage of the Shanghainese topolect throughout the movie. The main actor, Xu Zheng 徐崢, himself is a Shanghainese director who always appreciates films with regional characteristics. The three actresses are also Shanghainese, so they speak in a perfect tone, which appeals to locals very much. But of course there are subtitles to cater for a broader audience. People with no knowledge of the topolect like it as well, maybe because the accent itself is amusing. Most of them are not bothered by the unfamiliar language, since it has long become habitual for people to read subtitles even if they can understand the language, as we have also discussed in our class.

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Your Pinky Heart

Phenomenally viral song by the Malaysian hip-hop artist, Namewee, "It might Break Your Pinky Heart. Namewee 黃明志 Ft.Kimberley Chen 陳芳語【Fragile 玻璃心】@鬼才做音樂 2021 Ghosician" — premiered on 10/15/21, and it already has nearly 9,000,000 views:

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Dubbing and subtitles

From an anonymous correspondent:

G and I have always enjoyed foreign films, but only if they're subtitled. We shy away from films that are dubbed into English. The dubbing clearly adds another layer of clumsy artifice that stops me from entering into the film.

The Italians, and I believe most Europeans, prefer dubbing when they're watching foreign films. Their voice actors are a highly-paid group. A few years ago, when the Italian dubbers went on strike, no new foreign (i.e., American, British, French, etc.) films were released for months, maybe years.

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Botched dubbing of a Taiwanese Mandarin film on the mainland

From Eoin Cullen:

This is a really fascinating story:  a Taiwanese film ("Dāng nánrén liàn'ài shí 当男人恋爱时" ["Man in Love"]) where the main character has been dubbed for the mainland Chinese release. The film is mostly in accented Taiwan Mandarin and the protagonist peppers his speech with Southern Min (Taiwanese / Hoklo), so someone decided there’d be a comprehensibility issue for mainland audiences (despite the fact that there are Chinese language subtitles on all films, Chinese or otherwise). In the dubbed version the protagonist has a notable mainland Mandarin accent, which is hilarious for Taiwanese netizens. This to me would be like if the film Trainspotting had been dubbed into American English for its US release.

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Mutual unintelligibility among Sinitic lects

By chance, I came across this most revealing section of a perceptive book by Linda Jakobson entitled A Million Truths: A Decade in China (pp. 175-177), which shows how people from different parts of China often don't really understand each other.  That includes people who are supposedly speaking different varieties of Mandarin.  I know this from my own experience travelling across the length and breadth of China.  For instance, see the second paragraph of this post, "Mutual Intelligibility of Sinitic Languages", also the next to the last paragraph of this article, "English and Mandarin juxtaposed", where I describe a climb up Emei Mountain in Sichuan, during which incomprehension among "Mandarin" speakers was a demonstrable, inescapable fact.  Seldom, however, do people write about this semi-taboo topic so clearly as Linda Jakobson.

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Year of the Whores

At the advent of the lunar New Year, I usually try to come up with something clever to celebrate the occasion. (See here, here, and here.) Perhaps because I was preoccupied with other things, I hadn't yet thought of anything suitable for the Year of the Horse. Fortunately, at the last minute, BBC came to the rescue and gifted me with this spectacular subtitle blunder:

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