Saturday 22 May 2010
I just finished watching Ip Man on DVD. It was a good movie, but the subtitles were literally the worst I have ever seen in 20 years of watching many, many subtitled Chinese movies. I'm accustomed to confusing, silly, stilted, and absurd subtitles, but these were simply gibberish. My wife provided a running translation of the Cantonese but the Japanese left us both bemused.
It's hard to convey the awfulness ... None of the characters were named; the names were just translated into English and rendered without capitals, so the protagonist is referred to variously as "leaf teacher" and "leaf ask", his son is rendered as "leaf quasi", another character is just "wood", a villain is "three general", but some characters get names like "LIU2 BAO3". Word order is basically completely random. Martial arts challenges are described as "exchanging views" or "vexing". People kept saying "are you dry" --- I have no idea what that was about. Forget about punctuation.
I'm actually curious about the process that could lead to such terrible results. There's must be fifty million people who could do a better translation, not to mention Google Translate, so how did they end up with someone doing it this badly? Maybe the DVD I borrowed is actually an illegal copy, but why would they make their own subtitles? And surely there are Laotian street kids who can do a better job than this.