Sunday, May 18, 2008

Using the right words

I've said before that there are occasions when it is important to be precise in your language. Not necessarily grammatically correct as defined by self-appointed mavens, but correct in terms of conveyed message.

Now I'm watching The Men From The Agency - about how trailblazers in the British Advertising industry of the 1960s ended up as trailblazers in the British film industry in the 1980s. And because there is a fair bit of "background noise", and I want to be clear about what these guys are actually saying, I stuck the subtitles on.

And the discrepancy is shocking. The subtitle writers are just lazy. It's ok to miss the odd interjection, even the odd non-essential word:

Subtitles: CDP's most talked about campaign of the 70s grew out of new restrictions on cigarette advertising.

Voiceover: CDP's most talked about campaign of the 70s ironically [sic] grew out of new restrictions on cigarette advertising.

David Puttnam subtitles: Alan and Ridley put huge amounts of their own money into those films. In Alan's case, enormous courage. £80,000 may not seem like a lot people today. But in 1976 it was half of what Alan had.

David Puttnam actually: What people forget about Alan and Ridley is that, in both cases, they put enormous amounts of their own money into those films. In Alan's case, enormous courage, now £80,000 may not seem like a lot to some people today, but £80,000 in 1976 I think was half of everything Alan had in the world.

Subtitles: While Puttnam and the ads directors were conquering America, Britain was entering turbulent times.

Actual Voiceover: While Puttnam and the commercials directors were conquering America, the country they left behind was about to enter one of the most turbulent times in its history.

Almost every single line is wrong. Yes it approximates the intended meaning, but it loses the individual style of the speaker. It is meant to be transcription not summary.

2 comments:

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