Thanks to the internet and streaming services, we can access TV shows from all corners of the world. Platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and Prime Video, have a whole army of translators that are busy translating thousands of shows and movies into multiple languages. That is precisely why the most popular movies and shows no longer come from Hollywood.
The latest that is putting Netflix members on edge is Squid Game. The Korean survival drama released on 17 September and is already on its way to becoming the most watched series on Netflix. If you haven’t watched it yet, you may want to tread with care, as this article could contain a few spoilers.
Lost in translation
Given how viral the thriller series has become, a Korean speaker recently spoke out about how viewers watching with English subtitles may be missing out on pivotal moments of the show. Youngmi Mayer, says that Netflix’s translation of the original, well-crafted, Korean dialogues are so poor that viewers probably won’t be able to understand the characters as they’re supposed to. She said:
Hey everyone, I just watched Squid Game and I am fluent in Korean and I had the English subtitles on and noticed that you're missing so much from the English subtitles.
The dialogue was written so well and zero of it was preserved.
Without giving too much away, she explained one instance in which a character’s personality was completely ‘sterilised’ by the subtitles. She added:
The first example I want to start with is Mi-nyeo, which translates to 'beautiful girl', which I think is really interesting.
Her dialogue constantly gets botched like every little thing that she says is f***** up.
I think it's because she's playing a low-class character and she's a gangster, so she cusses a lot and it gets very sterilised.
Poor work standards
Translation is a tricky business and a lot can get lost in the process, however Mayer blames it on the poor work standards of translators all over the world. She says:
The reason this happens is because translation work is not respected and also the sheer volume of content. Translators are underpaid and overworked and it’s not their fault. It’s the fault of producers who don’t appreciate the art.