Japanese subtitling for independent film companies

by Knockhundred Admin
Japanese subtitling for independent film companies

We have a number of regular clients for whom we produce Japanese transcriptions and also Japanese to English direct translations from audio. Recently, however, we’ve been enjoying working on a number of subtitling projects for independent film companies. These projects have clearly all been destined for the Japanese market, which means that instead of subtitling from Japanese into English, we have been subtitling from English into Japanese!

We have a small team of dedicated linguists who produce our Japanese subtitles and believe me, it’s a pretty challenging process. With English subtitles, there is usually a line restriction of thirty-five characters (including spaces). In the Japanese language however, there are no spaces between words. Sentences are constructed using a mix of the phonetic syllabary (hiragana / katakana) and logographic characters (kanji). The nature of the language means that it is absolutely imperative that the linguist responsible for producing and checking the subtitles is a fluent, native speaker, to ensure that no sentences (or worse still, words!) are split in the middle.

There are also many different levels of politeness in Japanese and it is equally important that the subtitler working on a particular production opts for the correct level of language to use. Very, (very) broadly speaking, there are three distinct levels, though in reality the language us much, much more subtle than that.

Fortunately for our most recent Japanese subtitling project, the production team gave us very clear guidance in terms of the expected target audience. The linguist who undertook the project is an extremely experienced, bilingual subtitler, which meant that the final copy was absolutely spot on. The film was something really special, but you’ll have to wait until it hits a screen near you!

Need help?

Should you require our help with Japanese subtitling do not hesitate to get in touch with us and our team will do their best to help you.