Main Even The Subtitler Is Stumped Discussion

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09:34:41 AM Dec 11th 2012
edited by dotchan
Removing cases of typos and mistakes, or where it's not clear if it is an example of this trope:

Anime and Manga

  • Max's exclamation after Inigo convinces him to sell him a miracle for an incredibly low price in The Princess Bride. The actor said that it was something his Yiddish grandmother used to say.
  • Godzilla Vs Mechagodzilla's Tristar subs have ??? whenever the subject of space titanium is brought up.
  • The Empire Strikes Back: Someone managed to mishear 3PO calling Han Solo as "Captain, turn it! Captain, turn it!"
  • Happens in The Comebacks, while a bunch of locals are talking to the new coach in a barber shop.
  • In a deleted scene on the Remember the Titans DVD, Coach Yoast enters a church with a black congregation singing "Leaning On The Everlasting Arms". The subtitles seem to think the lyric is "He Is Of The Everlasting Arms". They also think "peace of mind" is "piece of mind", and so on.
  • The only DVD release of 1938 French film The Baker's Wife is absolutely terrible with its subtitles. It's like the subtitler watched the movie once and just didn't put in anything he couldn't understand. The worst is the baker, who doesn't exactly enunciate his lines, and so the subtitler leaves out many of his lines (and he's the main character!), including what one assumes is an absolutely beautiful speech at the end.
  • The French film Amélie has English subtitles that can't seem to keep up during the scene where Lucien is making fun of Mr. Collignon. It's probably because all of his taunts are done in rhyme (e.g. "Collignon, dead and gone"), and rhymes and wordplay don't tend to translate well to other languages, so they just came up with a few English equivalents and left the rest untranslated.
  • Due to poor sound quality, bits of the German film Violent Shit remain unsubtitled.
  • The DVD subtitles in The Haunted Mansion misinterpret the initial lyrics to the ride's focal song, "Grim Grinning Ghosts"
    Original: When the crypt doors creak...
    Subtitles: When the cryptos creak...
  • In the Justin Bieber movie, a performance of Baby is subtitled like a sing-along. The fastest part of the rap is subtitled with question marks.
  • The DVD subtitles for Repo! The Genetic Opera are...well. Consider that the line "peelin' off the tissue" was misheard and spelled out as "penile tissue."

Live Action Television
  • The subtitlers for the Firefly DVDs weren't the best. ("Grab any supplies that are low" becomes "Gravity supplies are low." Does it come in bottles?) With the Chinese phrases they just put in "[SPEAKS GALACTIC LANGUAGE]" What's especially hilarious? They fail to realize that the galactic language is Chinese even though at one point Mal explicitly points out it's Chinese. This was carried over into the movie, where Simon says something in Russian, but the subtitles say it is Chinese.
    • Which really irritated non-Chinese speakers who turned on the subtitles with the hopes of finding out what the insults meant.
    "Gotta say, Doc, the town's real and the folks are near miraculous!" ("Gotta say, Doc, your talent for alienatin' folks 's near miraculous!")
    "You're a rabbit, Mal!" ("Gorram it, Mal!")
    "Mine is an evil lair!" ("Mine is an evil laugh!")
    • And apparently, the subtitlers thought that "YoSaffBridge" was "[Speaks Chinese]"
    • And let's be sure not to forget about those all-important "eye dents." (That would be 'idents', or identification.)
  • Have difficulty understanding the dialogue in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes or any of the subsequent series? Too bad, because the transcriber did, as well. There are frequent errors and audible dialogue is sometimes marked as "[Unintelligible]".
  • The UK subtitler for The Wire apparently didn't understand the line "he's got a kid riding shotgun"; it appears onscreen as "he's got a kid riding in a Shogun".
  • One Discovery channel documentary-esque show about the various theories of the origin of life had a hearing-impaired closed caption that was apparently being typed as the show went on, rather than being prepared beforehand. The transcriber apparently did not know the word "panspermia" and just skipped over it. As you can imagine, the good half of the show devoted to the panspermia hypothesis was painful to read.
  • Lost frequently aired clip shows to help viewers catch up on important plot points before a season premiere, or after a long break between new episodes. These were usually narrated by a cast member or the showrunners, and those in charge of the closed captioning didn't benefit from having the script ahead of time like they did with the actual episodes. This once caused a narrator's statement that "Jack assumed Faraday's plan" to get subtitled as "JACK ASSED FARADAY'S PLAN."
  • Skins has Jals rapping brothers talking in slang. This is sometimes subtitled in the regular episodes and then even with completely different lines as what they are saying. The DVD subtitles most of the time manage to transcript what they say but a rap song in season two was cut short one line in with the captioning [fast rap].
  • On Psychoville when Mr. Jelly shouts "Red raw stump!" while showing little children his, well, stump, the subtitlers apparently completely missed the point of the scene and captioned it "WHERE DO I START?".
  • In Jonathan Creek , if the subtitles are on, Roy Pilgrim's singing in the old music video comes out as "INDECIPHERABLE LYRICS".

Web Original
  • This interview with Hongkong's Douglas Kung, the director of Shaolin Vs Evil Dead, on his time in Mandarin-speaking Singapore. As a Hongkonger, Doug speaks Cantonese as a first language and his mastery of Mandarin is sketchy at best, so any time the subtitles aren't in Chinese characters is this trope.

Western Animation
  • The closed captions for "Scooby Doo and the Witch's Ghost" Have the term "We may look bad" in the Hex Girls Self-titled song as "We Make Love Bad".
  • An episode of Spongebob Squarepants has Spongebob and Squidward traversing an endless wasteland to deliver a pizza, while an increasingly exhausted Spongebob sings a rapidly decaying "Krusty Krab Pizza" jingle. Watching the episode with Closed Caption turned on results in the caption "Incoherent Mumbling."
  • A Goofy Movie features the title character unintelligibly (out of context, anyhow) singing, and the closed captions say "Grandpa Grandpa." It's clear from context that he's still singing the same song, and the line is "grab a friend".
  • Phineas and Ferb song "My Ride from Outer Space" causes the subtitle writer to just say that the singer is "unintelligible" when the singer sings the faster lines.
  • The subtitles for The Penguins of Madagascar sometimes provide a translation of what Rico is saying. The rest of the time, it's transcribed as "[Mutters gibberish]".
  • In the original English VHS release of Aladdin, when the Genie turns into a submarine to save Aladdin from drowning, everything after "Up scope!" is rendered as "Babbling in German." Of course since this is Robin Williams we're dealing with here, it's very possible he was just spouting German-sounding gibberish anyway.
  • The subtitles for the TV airings of the South Park episode "Make Love, Not Warcraft" seemed to have been written by someone who A) is trying to subtitle things by ear and B) has no knowledge of anything Warcraft related (Azeroth being subbed as Azra, for example). The person who subtitled this episode also must have no knowledge of South Park either, as Stan's name is subtitled as Dan a few times at the beginning of the episode, and Kenny named Kitty in one line. A couple more examples from the episode:
    • "He needs the agility boosts for bow attacks" is subtitled as "He needs the agility boost for Botox". No comment.
    • When Live to Win plays, the line "Day by day/kick it all away/I'm not caving in/let another round begin" becomes "Day by day/thinking of a way/and not caving in/then I know that I'll begin."
    • "Looks like you're about to get pwned" into "Looks like you're about to get punked"
    • "That was such uber pwnage" into "That was such uber pootage." What.

  • One of the episodes on the Home and Garden Channel had an episode of a family in Scotland buying a house. Nobody understood a word they said, so they needed subtitles throughout the entire episode, and most of the subtitles were plain gibberish.
  • Real Life drug dealer Frank Lucas's speech is apparently too garbled for captions, which frequently became "unintelligible".
  • Happens often in Japanese CD booklet supplements of English-language CDs (which provide Japanese language translations as well as the English lyrics). In Rancid's "Life Won't Wait" CD (which has never had the official lyrics printed anywhere) supplement, the English translation often just said "Unintelligible" and many of their guesses were off ("I can see 360" became "I can see gray sixty"). Not surprising given the way the singer sings...
  • If you ever watch a live show with closed captioning on (such as a news program), you'll notice that the captions are generally a few lines behind the onscreen dialogue, presumably to give the captionists time to figure out what's being said and edit accordingly. Still, however, you might still occasionally see some unintentionally hilarious misinterpretations. In some areas they're about one line behind, and truncated to the point of not even saying the same thing as the anchor. Others tend to write out nonsense words, mistype something and have to go back and delete it, leaving the subtitles further behind. One egregious example had the captionist type out a word that didn't exist, partially delete it, then finish it with a different word that didn't exist. Good luck trying to get the news from this...
    • Rick Reilly comments on this.
    • This plays havoc on hearing impaired and deaf communities because homophones are entirely for a person who can hear. If you don't understand the various sounds and how they can combine to produce sounds similar to others then "Pair of Shoes" is nothing like "parachute."

Also removed an example, since Aversions don't really need to be listed or we'd be here all day:
  • Averted in De Lama's, the Dutch version of Whose Line Is It Anyway?. A couple of times in games, players would just rant off in made-up foreign languages. The DVD subtitles would just subtitle words that were correctly used, and would subtitle the rest as [fake (insert language here)]. For example:
    Je suis [fake French] dans de rue de la [fake French] avec mon paraplu
03:42:41 PM Mar 26th 2013
Another one

  • In God of War: Ascension, Megaera unleashes Aegaeon the Hecatonchires on Kratos during the opening scenes. However, while she says "Let's see how you fare against the Hecatonchires!", the subtitle replaces the latter with (No Suggestions) for some reason.
03:07:15 PM Sep 25th 2013
  • A very old fansub of Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie leaves some parts untraslated, like the part when Fei-Long fights against Ryu when the latter manages to piss Fei-Long and he thrown a tantrum in Japanese the subbers aren't able to figure out.
01:52:28 PM Aug 2nd 2012
edited by Biffbiffley
wrong place.
07:49:58 PM May 18th 2011
If somebody familiar with the show could rewrite this example without all the bile, that'd be great:

01:57:25 PM Aug 2nd 2012
edited by Biffbiffley
  • Occasionally used in the Cartoon Network show Unnatural history. Sometimes even in the English sections.

(I don't know the show or I'd post it myself.)
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