I see lots of people cite subtitles here. Examples:



But, are subtitles officially approved (or, in Star Wars lingo, canonical) to be cited? Here's what I found on Quora: https://www.quora.com/What-are-some-examples-of-the-worst-translations/answer/Owen-Briscoe?share=b85dd1a1&srid=2KT2


1 Answer 1


Official Subtitles

I'm pretty happy to treat the official subtitles on a DVD as being about as good a source of information as you're likely to get. They're (usually) added by professional subtitling companies and organisations, often with direct access to both screenplay and the production team who can answer any of their queries about spellings and translations. Although errors can potentially creep into any secondary source (especially where subtitles were added decades after the film was made, for example), the reality is that these mistakes are unlikely to be egregious.

Most professionally constructed English DVD subtitles are, within the bounds of readability, likely to be a highly faithful reproduction of the work.

Foreign Language Subtitles

With any translation, there are going to be choices made by the individual translator. A faithful translation would be almost unwatchable so local idioms need to be used to replace those that wouldn't make any sense. This in turn means that the translation isn't going to be a completely faithful rendition of the original but is still likely to be of a very high quality.

Caveat emptor if you plan to use a re-translated source in your answer.


Fan subtitles can (like any of other source of fan-created info) be used as part of an answer but always with the proviso that they're unlikely to be of the same quality as official subtitles and that errors of assumptions or attribution (for example, who spoke a line heard off-screen or the precise spelling of an alien word) may be made.

Fan-subs are low quality sources and should be treated with caution.

  • I would have gone with "You spoony bard!" for the foreign translation, but I admit your reference gave me quite the chuckle.
    – Booga Roo
    Mar 25, 2018 at 1:04
  • No, I don't think I agree. I have many DVDs with subtitles that seem as if they were written in shorthand — i.e. they get the gist and most of the words, but simplify a lot of it: while these don't change the meaning of what they do feature, they often miss some digressions or minor statements. I also have a few where it seems the subtitles were written by ear — and quite ineptly, also. Maybe I'll put them in an answer. Mar 27, 2018 at 0:06
  • @Can-nes_food - That's what I meant by "within the bounds of readability". Sometimes a sentence is too long to read comfortably before the next one comes along. It's the job of a professional subtitler to convey the precise meaning while shortening it to a readable length
    – Valorum
    Mar 27, 2018 at 6:29

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