12.11.08

For Julia

De manera excepcional, el resto de éste post va a ser en inglés.

I plan to share an anecdote that made me think of my friend Julia, who kindly reads my blog although she is an English speaker and she has to run the Spanish text through some sort of automated translator program. For once, she (along with other English speakers) won't have to do that.

Months ago, we (my usual movie going gang) saw a preview for a Lebanese movie called "Caramel" that looked very amusing. Unfortunately, they were only showing the movie with German subtitles, so none of us could go see it at the theater. Sara managed to torrent the film with the best possible English subtitles she could find. She did give us a fair warning that the subtitles were of dubious quality... we had no idea how dubious.

After a nice pasta dinner, we sat down and started watching the movie. The spelling for the subtitles was perfect, which makes us think that they ran them through an automated system, but the grammar was bizarre as hell. The verbs were in almost random positions (and tenses), the pronouns were quite puzzling, and the prepositions were completely arbitrary. None of us speak Arabic, so Niv was the only one that understood some words here and there from the dialogues. No help form that. Eventually, it became clear that the translation had been done from French given that often the expression "of agreement", as well as the word "afflicted" would show up. We eventually took them to come from d'accord (ok) and désolé (I'm sorry), but we were quite confused until we figured those two out. Every now and then a really random phrase like "follow the cow and fortune will come" would leave us thinking that a local expression must be very fitting to the film script, but it doesn't translate well at all. Of course, we ended up laughing a lot, but for reasons that the director did not originally intend.

At some point, we got used to guessing what the weird subtitles actually meant, so we were managing to more or less follow the storyline. Then, something happened with the torrented file: the subtitles went out of sync with the image, causing them to be ahead by a few seconds. Now, we not only had to guess the true meaning, but also the possible author fo each remark!. As the film progressed, it acquired a parallel soundtrack, in which most of us tried to inform the others of our conjectures about what was going on. The film had a happy ending, but most of us were left with the feeling that we had been doing homework of some sort. I don't know if I can recommend it, because it might be much more reasonable to watch with the proper subtitles. In any case, you might want to stay away from torrented files for movies in exotic languages.

So, after all that effort and involuntary comedy, I couldn't help to think that it is extremely nice of Julia to bother to read my posts using automated translators, and that I can see how she sometimes uses the word "hysterical" for the results.

4 comentarios:

Jocelly dijo...

Qué chistoso! Yo hace unos meses vi esa película porque una amiga la puso en su cuenta de Netflix, sin saber nada de la película. Cuando yo la vi, los subtítulos estaban bien, pero eso no ayudó mucho. En realidad la película me aburrió bastante. Creo que tu experiencia estuvo mucho más divertida!

Julia dijo...

Well, it is only occasionally as hilarious as your movie experience sounded. :) Machines are just not very good translators, are they? I have to say that I think my very favorite online translation moment from your blog was more beautiful than funny, though-- whatever phrase you used for "cloud chamber" (I am assuming...) was translated "camera of fog", which I still find somehow evocative and lovely.

astropixie dijo...

i read your blog to keep up with the interesting happenings in your life, and to practice my spanish! since i've been on holiday for a while, i was just scanning your posts to see how many i had missed, when my brain all the sudden thought "wow, my spanish must be getting better because i'm reading ths so quickly - oh wait, im reading english. crap!" d'oh!

Pilar. dijo...

Ich finde auch sehr Toll dein Blog, Evita.