Netflix’s Squid Game shot to international fame during the pandemic, as people binge-watched the South Korean dystopian drama in record numbers. But the show piqued the interest of linguists for entirely different reasons, as news of bad subtitles revealed a significant translation breakdown.
This issue underscores the value of good transcription services — whether you have a massive audience like Squid Game or serve a small niche of private investors.
Whether you’re a podcaster, TV exec, or head partner of your law firm, you can avoid making embarrassing mistakes by finding the best transcription services performed by experienced translators and interpreters.
Where Did Squid Game Go Wrong?
According to many multi-lingual viewers, the official English closed-captions, subtitles, and dubbing are wrong in many scenes.
Youngmi Mayer, a KoreanAmerican comedian who first posted about these discrepancies, says the show’s “botched” subtitles overlook nuances in the language. These missing links fail to preserve the original Korean’s meaning, and the English version presents characters in vastly different lights.
In one popular TikTok post, Mayer highlighted a mistranslation that changed the Korean’s careful characterization of Han Mi-Nyeo or Player 212.
- The English Version: I’m not a genius, but I still got it worked out.
- The Original Korean: I am very smart, I just never got a chance to study.
As you can see, the two languages present a different side to the Han Mi-Nyeo. In translating Korean to English, the show lost its commentary on class and the wealth gap in education.
Other viewers responded to Mayer, revealing their own issues with Netflix’s show. According to one Twitter user @Jayeamber1, two different laptops displayed different English subtitles for the same scenes.
How Can You Avoid Squid Game’s Mistake?
You may not be spearheading Netflix’s next international hit, but you can still learn a lesson from its subtitle issues.
A rush job or inexperienced transcriptionists can skew your content, giving it a totally different meaning in another language.
Here are some things to keep in mind when looking for foreign language transcription services.
- Nuance: Experience goes a long way to creating an accurate translation that reflects the true meaning behind the original script. An experienced transcriptionist and translator can easily accommodate slang, cultural perspectives, and industry-specific terms.
- Accuracy: Besides making truthful translations, foreign language transcription services produce flawless scripts free from error. The best agency can promise an accuracy rate of 99.8%.
- Languages: Foreign language transcription services from a celebrated agency will have a large roster of professionals. Collectively, they’ll speak more than 100 languages, so the right transcriptionist and translator is on the job, even if it doesn’t involve English, Korean, or any other popular language.
- Speed: Sometimes, working against a rush deadline is unavoidable. The best foreign language transcription services can match these tight timelines without sacrificing quality. Rather than putting pressure on a single team to match unrealistic deadlines, these agencies will increase the number of skilled professionals working on the project.
No one is safe from bad transcription and translation, not even Netflix.
Mistakes are inevitable if you don’t put in the time and effort to find quality foreign language transcription services.
Remember these tips before you hire a transcriptionist for your next project. They’ll help you find an experienced professional who creates an accurate script every time.