Language Services: A Helping Hand

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Language Services - helping hand

16 years old – young enough to be nimble, old enough to know what’s what.  It is a perfect combination. For a company to be in business, that is.  I’m definitely not talking about a teenager. More on that later. Playing a pivotal role in encouraging effective global communication, Knockhundred’s language services might even be able to help Dave Allen’s son.

WARNING: This blog post and its associated links contains profanity, derogatory and obscene language which some may find offensive

This classic Dave Allen sketch has always made me laugh. If you don’t have time to watch now, it’s basically a brilliantly observed piece about the communication skills of his 18 year old son and his friends, (or lack of communication skills).  Every parent will surely recognise what this is about.


In a similar spirit, we have looked back at some of the lighter moments we have come across in the language services industry over the last 16 years.

Translation: Bridging Written Communication. Or Not.

Avoid the perils of relying on machine translation or you may find yourself on The Bored Panda’s List. This showcases instances where a qualified translator may not perhaps have been involved in creating the text for a sign…

  • “EATING CARPET STRICTLY PROHIBITED” (seen in airport departure lounge).
  • “Due to happenstance beyonde our control this elevator is so broken”.
  • “For a proper service, please turn on the vacuum cleaner when using the shower.  Thank you.”
  • “Evil saloon for men”.  What?
  • “Please do not use the problem.”  Ah, I see.

Transcription: When AI Has A Mind Of Its Own

One of Knockhundred’s most frequently requested language services is transcription.  Automatic speech to text is of course so much better now than 15 years ago, but you still need human involvement as Cassandra Wilyard found.  Here are a few highlights of the comical errors produced by AI:

  • microflagellates = microflatulence
  • Zeeman effect = semen effect
  • I’m a data scientist turned entrepreneur = I’m a dinosaur sharpener
  • 65-year-olds = 60 five-year-olds

Interpreting: You Couldn’t Make It Up

You couldn’t make it up?  Well he did.  The old ones are always the best.  Yes, it’s the “fake” British Sign Language interpreter supposedly providing support at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service 10 years ago.  Go on – remind yourself.  Actually it’s rather creative it own way…

Subtitling: When the Queen Sat In A Cabbage

Subtitling is one of our top 5 language services and it’s offered in over 200 languages. We create subtitles for films, TV shows, documentaries and online videos to make audiovisual content accessible to audiences who do not understand the original language or who are Deaf or hard of hearing. I wonder how much these subtitles helped…?

  • Today, the Queen and the Duke travelling in this cabbage…
  • What beautiful breasts (describing Princess Eugenie’s wedding dress)
  • Expect heat and nudity (weather forecast)
  • Poirot being (instead of “proroguing”)

Source: Hilarious Bloopers Make Reading TV Subtitles Subversive Joy.

Audiovisual Translation: A Matter For Scholarly Investigation

Audiovisual translation is one of our language services that encompasses various (sometimes many) techniques. These including a direct translation from the speech to another language, subtitling, dubbing, voiceover, and audio description.  So many inconsistencies and basic errors can be introduced when humans are not involved in the process that the subject has become a subject for scholarly research.

Juerong Qiu and Anthony Pym’s research article, Fatal flaws? Investigating the effects of machine translation errors on audience reception in the audiovisual context, makes for a fascinating read.  They investigate the degree of tolerance users have when it is clear that machines have done all the work. 

Voiceover: When The Talent Corpses

Apologies in advance for the fruity language, but if you are a fan, it’s worth seeing.  It illustrates two of the remarkable voiceover talents for South Park working hard in the studio – but mostly working hard at keeping it together. Corpsing inevitably abounds…


So, the take-home message regarding Knockhundred’s language services? Well, just get in touch with one of our completely human project managers to see how they can help you…!

Do you need translations? Get in touch.

We are trusted by tv production companies, marketing and advertising companies around the world to provide a subtitling service in over 200 languages.

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