Another Subtitler Gaining Visibility

Just a few days after the unexpected news about a film on subtitling and subtitlers, another subtitler is the subject of a very nice article published in The Globe and Mail. Once again, the title revolves around (in)visibility and the apparent contradiction of placing subtitles over a screen and trying to keep them unnoticed: “The art of the film subtitler: How to be as unnoticeable as possible“. (I have to admit I’m extremely grateful that they refrained from repeating the puns around being lost/found in translation.)

What is explained there is not news for those who work in this industry, but there’s plenty of interesting (and not so obvious) information for the general public. A good deal is said about the technical challenges, and overall the text praises this experienced and dedicated specialized translator –Robert Gray– and even mentions rates, which is unusual.

I wonder if it’s just a coincidence that subtitles and subtitlers are being more noticed, and in such positive ways. Could it be just the coming Oscars or is there something else in the background?

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6 responses

  1. I always had that fight (and it cost me some jobs,too!) when I asked for the translator’s name to be included at the end of a movie, with the credits. Whenever I translated a book, my name would appear so, why not in the case of subtitles? I sincerely hope this is a new dawn of recognition to the efforts of the unsung translators.

    1. Where are you from, Daniel? I live in Canada and I’ve never seen any translator credited at the end of a film in the cinemas, nor on DVD.

      In Brazil, however, for quite a few years now it’s quite common to credit the translator at the end. In the case of cable TV channels based in Brazil but which import most of their programming, we sign an agreement waiving our copyright over the translation (which belongs to the distributor) and then they credit our name in the end. I think it’s important, not only for the translator but also for the consumers, who have the right to know who is responsible for the translation they are indirectly buying.

      On the other hand, corporate and technical translations are more likely to remain anonymous. But I try. When I work directly for the end clients, especially when I’m the one who edits the film, I ask for their permission and, if they agree, I put my name at the very end.

  2. It is a very interesting article, Carol, thank you for sharing it. This guy is a “star” of subtitling. I’m jealous!! 😉

  3. Like Daniel, I too believe in getting and giving credit where credit is due 🙂

    Under the Berne Convention, the translator’s name should be acknowledged. In the EU, this is a legal obligation. One may give up material rights, but not moral rights.

    WIPO website offers a lot of info on how the Berne Convention is transposed into national legislations. There’s also a very interesting study on this topic by a Canadian law professors, Giuseppina d’Agostino, “Copyright, Contracts, Creators – New Media, New Rules” (an expensive book, but could probably be found in any good law library). Also, http://www.ipo.gov.uk/types/copy/c-otherprotect/c-moralrights.htm.

    I can confirm from experience that good customers understand this legal obligation. But I have also lost jobs because I always ask to be credited 🙂 I find that companies or intermediaries that have no respect their translators also have no regard for quality.

    1. Thanks for your input on this!

  4. Oops, apology for the typo. Law professor, of course.

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