Friday, May 11, 2018

Korean reactions to "Infinity War"

There has been a slew of complaints about mistranslated subtitles in "Infinity War," and based on the video below, people are actually calling for the translator's head. I didn't notice the translation problems, but that's partly because I can't read the Korean script fast enough when it's flashing quickly on the screen, and partly because I don't have the fluency to verify what might have been mistranslated. Anyway, here's the video:

Very interesting to hear so much praise for the person who did the Korean subtitles for "Deadpool." Humor is notoriously hard to translate.


Charles said...

I didn't watch the video, but the one thing I heard about was the very last line in the film, in the end-credits sequence. Not sure if I should say what it is, 'cause it might be a spoiler (I guess?).

Kevin Kim said...

Spoil away. Everyone who was going to see the movie has doubtless already seen the movie at this point.

Charles said...

Still attempting to avoid spoilers: In the end-credits scene, Samuel L. Jackson starts to let loose with his trademark "Motherfucker," but he is cut off, so all you here is "Mother-." This was translated in the captions as "어머니," which, I have to admit, seems like a pretty big miss.

To be honest, though, I didn't notice too many other egregious errors, but I wasn't spending the entire film comparing the dialogue with the subtitles. HJ's theory is that this is a controversy stirred up by a competing translation company; that seems even more likely given the praise for the translator of the "Deadpool" subtitles. Believe it or not, but the film subtitle business is extremely competitive and cutthroat.

Kevin Kim said...

Yeah, Jackson's quote and mistranslation are noted in the video. The biggie, though, seems to be a huge mistranslation of Dr. Strange's "We're in the endgame now" to something like "We are doomed," which is the difference between not giving up and giving up.

Back to Jackson: the interviewer asks people how the "Motherf—" should have been translated. I thought maybe "Jaenjang—" would work, and at least one interviewee agreed.

Charles said...

I do remember thinking that the "endgame" quote was not translated ideally, but I don't think it was quite as severe as "we're doomed." I might be mixing up my lines, but I believe it was translated as "달리 방법이 없었다." To be honest, though, I really can't remember the specific sequence of lines in that scene, and I might be confusing this with a translation of a different line. That being said, I do remember looking at the translations during this scene, and I do not remember thinking, "That was a huge mistranslation!" That is, at least, relatively speaking. Translation of subtitles in films is rarely top-notch, and mistakes of that variety are fairly common. On rare occasion I will see a very clever translation and be impressed--like the other day, when I got a bit of Back to the Future on TV. The humor in the scene where Marty walks into the diner and meets his dad is "translated" pretty well. I use quotes here because the translator completely changed the dialogue so that it would make sense in Korean. I thought it was a good choice, though, even if it didn't really have an 80s vibe.

(Then again, the year 1987 was written as "1978" in the subtitles. What is up with the transposition of numbers in film subtitles? I swear, it's an epidemic!)

As for "Motherf--": Yes, I was thinking along those lines as well.

Kevin Kim said...


If you still haven't seen the above video, you might want to. One of the interviewees says something like "we're doomed" was the translation... or at least that's how the interviewee's Korean utterance was translated in the video's subtitle. Heh. Subtitling and more subtitling.

Charles said...

OK, I finally watched the video (or, at least up to the Dr. Strange part, and on 1.5x speed because my time is precious!). Firstly, I love how the interviewer just nonchalantly spit out "Motherfucker" when talking about the subtitles.

Also, after watching that bit about Dr. Strange's utterance, it is starting to come back to me a little. The line I was thinking of was literally, I think, "There was no other way." The "we're doomed" line, though, was "We're in the endgame now," and I do remember thinking that it was a bad translation. The Korean was "가망이 없다," which literally translates to "there is no hope" or "there is no prospect (of success)." Back translating this as "We're doomed" is not entirely wrong, but I wouldn't have done it that way.

All that being said, even though I do remember thinking that the line was mistranslated, I stick with what I said above: Yeah, it was a bad translation, but I've seen many similarly bad translations in Korean subtitles. Also, docking the film a point because of translation issues when you otherwise would have given it a 10 blows my mind. There were so many problems with that film!

Anyway, that is a rant for another day....