Subtitle controversy for 'Pacific Rim'

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, August 6, 2013
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Poster of film "Pacific Rim"

Hollywood blockbuster "Pacific Rim" has collected 280 million yuan at box offices on its opening weekend, yet the film's Chinese subtitles have caused controversy.

The visually extravagant "Pacific Rim," directed by Guillermo del Toro, tells the story of giant robots controlled by mankind, that fight alien monsters hailing from the darkest depths of the oceans.

The Chinese translator of the film is Jia Xiuyan, who also translated "Men In Black 3." Her translation style made some uncomfortable.

For example, the fighting style of one robot in the film is called the "Elbow Rocket," Jia translated it as the "Pegasus Meteor Fist," a term borrowed from "Saint Seiya," a famous Japanese manga series which was popular across China as well.

Jia explained that the director himself is a fan of Japanese anime and therefore she thought it would be okay to use the reference as a translation. "I have done a lot of research before deciding to translate it like that, "she said, "The 'Elbow Rocket' is very much the same style of the 'Pegasus Meteor Fist.'"

Nevertheless, there are also some more severe mistakes in the subtitles, basically altering entire words, such as "softer" instead of "sort of" and "pollution" instead of "population." Jia also disagreed with some internet users about the translation of "doctor" as in Chinese you are given the choice to refer to a medical doctor or a science doctor degree holder. She opted for the first one.

Jia is famous for a previous debate regarding her "Men In Black 3" translation work, in which she used ancient Chinese poems to translate Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones's dialogues.

According to Shanghai Morning Post, the imported movies for China usually employ professional teams from Changchun Film Dubbing Studio, Beijing Dubbing Studio (China Film Group and Bayi Film Studio) and Shanghai Film Dubbing Studio, three major Chinese film translation and production companies, for their translations. Aside from these, other translators doing the job are industry insiders, media people, university teachers and film company staff members who can read English or possess some level of translation skills.

According to the newspaper, there's very short time for a foreign film to get translated. Usually the importers get the script and video materials just one and a half month prior to its actual release. They then have to finish the translation, dubbing and final check of all processes in merely 20 days. The translators simply have very little time to perfect the quality of their subtitles.

Some translators also tend to use Internet slang or popular terms when translating foreign films. Nevertheless, industry insiders are worried that these types of translation will have a bad impact on both the industry as a whole and the enjoyment of audiences in particular.

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