Translating film footage in African languages

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Translating film footage in African languages

Over 2000 languages are spoken in Africa, but there are many fewer recognised at national level. When documentary-makers, journalists and charities travel to various African countries to interview people, they often don’t know which language(s) they will encounter.

One of our first jobs when we receive interview or video files from a media company is to identify the language spoken. Our first port of call is to find out in which country the interviews were filmed as this will at least give us a starting point in identifying the African language spoken.

If the interviews were recorded or filmed in Egypt, Eritrea, Libya, Morocco, Somalia, Sudan or Tunisia, it is likely that the language spoken is Arabic, though possibly in a country-specific dialect.

If the interviews were recorded or filmed in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi or Rwanda, our starting point would be to investigate whether the language spoken is Swahili.

If in Ethiopia, then Amharic. If in Somalia, then Somali, if in Eritrea, then Tigrinya (or Arabic). If the interviews were recorded or filmed in Zimbabwe, then our first port of call would be to test whether the language spoken is Shona. If in Botswana, then Herero. If filming has taken place in South Africa, then we have quite a large number of options to consider including Afrikaans, Xhosa and Zulu.

When working with media companies, journalists, documentary-makers and charities, we are usually asked to provide direct translations from the African languages into English, providing regular time stamps so that specific parts of the interview can be isolated at a later date if necessary.

Need help?

If we can help with any of your African languages requirements or you have a question about our service offering direct translations into English, do please get in touch and one of our project managers would be delighted to help.


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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