Sunday, July 16, 2006

Lost in translation

I spent some time this week in Bangkok on business. I stayed at the Radisson Hotel which served my purposes quite well. I must say though, the internet connection was just appalling.

On Thursday afternoon, after I'd come back from the office, I needed to write a report and decided rather than holing up in my room for two hours, I would drag my carcass and laptop down to the pub and have a couple of beers while writing the report. In the end, this was a mistake, as the constant "refill-your-glass" service meant that the report was less coherent than it needed to be, and I was already well on the way to inebriation by the time I was picked up to go to dinner.

But in the meantime though, I was happily tapping away and sipping at the cold beer. After a while, the management decided to put a movie on the big screen. It was one I hadn't seen before, and admittedly from the snippets I did pay attention to, it's probably one I won't ever see. It was called Apocalypse or Armageddon or something like that. Starring Beau Bridges as Mr President. (Ok I just found it here on IMDB, it is 10:5 Apocalypse.)

One thing that caught my eye was the subtitling. Now being in Bangkok, I would've expected the subtitles to be in Thai. But they weren't. This English Language movie was subtitled in English. And it was this subtitling which was at least partially responsible for a major part of my distraction. It was atrocious.

One of the characters was named "Brad" or "Brent" - even I have trouble with American accents sometimes. But he was variously titled, Brad or Brent, but most often Brat. Obviously he had a troubled childhood.

Whole words were left out. At one point, it had obviously got too hard for the translator and the translation just stopped mid-sentence. Phrases were completely wrong, not even close. An easy one like: "What's the situation?" might end up: "What is his face on?"

A lot of words were mis-spelled. My favourite was "skeewad", which was (what else?) "squad". This mistake was interesting because it was spelled correctly not 30 seconds later.

But this one was my favourite. They'd just pulled someone from a pile of rubble and the paramedics or whatever they were are crowded round him. One of them says: "I can see him breathing!". This was translated as, "I am see him freaking!"

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