Documentary Subtitling

Documentaries are a more difficult genre of films that require a lot more effort, research and detailing in subtitling. There are certain peculiarities of documentaries that make the task of subtitling harder and more demanding.The distinctive feature of documentaries is that they are not fictional, but portray aspects of reality and the world in which we live.Since they are about everyday lives of people, there is no definitive script and involves interviews with common people who often have limited command over the language and tend to make more mistakes and their speech is marked by hesitations, repetitions and low level of vocabulary. Personal style of speech varies considerably and the range of populations interviewed or portray is very vast. Furthermore , owing to the didactic nature of documentaries, they have a specialized theme or topic.

This presents challenges for the subtitler.The linguist has to firstly research into the subject matter and understand the concepts and terminology and their equivalents in the target language. Terminological research is important and adds to the work of translation.

Secondly, the translator must make up of lack of clarity on the part of speakers and find alternative phrasing based on their best judgment and understanding of the speakers.Finally, when speakers make errors or speak with breaks and pauses and repeat their words and ideas, the subtitler has the added task of rephrasing the words without replicating the errors and conveying the essence of the speaker’s intended message in a comprehensible way.

The linguists team at Word Par is highly sensitized to the nuances of documentary subtitling and considers all the above aspects of such translation.