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Tuesday, April 16th 2013, 6:48pm

Making clarifications in the transcription

Hi fellows,

In our last meeting we discussed a situation where the speaker did not finish a sentence and was making some gestures instead. The discussion revolved around the possibility of explaining the meaning of those gestures in square brackets in the subtitles. See this thread for context on the specific situation: [dotSUB Typo] Jacque Fresco on 'Telepathy and the Spiritual World'

Another, similar case popped up, and you can see it in this thread: [dotSUB Typo] Jacque Fresco-Looking for justice will kill you

What came out of the discussion in the meeting was that it's not really a good idea to put words in people's mouth. Explaining things was considered something that should be avoided.

My suggestion for how we can handle these cases is explained in the second thread I gave link to. Making the distinction between linguistic clarification and meaning clarification can allow us to have the benefits of both, but avoid the problems. What I propose is to put this principle - clarifying linguistics in the subtitles, but clarifying meaning in the notes - in the guidelines and follow it whenever such cases are encountered.

What do you think?

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Tuesday, April 16th 2013, 7:00pm

Sounds good to me Lizzie. Linguistic clarifications are really important so the translators can understand what is there, and the meaning clarifications whenever a situation is more complicated or doubtful, will be a huge plus in the notes pad to. :thumbup:

Thanks for the input! :bighug:
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Tuesday, April 16th 2013, 7:03pm

Sounds wise Lizzie, I think it would be a nice point to add to the guidelines.

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Tuesday, April 16th 2013, 7:06pm

My suggestion for how we can handle these cases is explained in the second thread I gave link to. Making the distinction between linguistic clarification and meaning clarification can allow us to have the benefits of both, but avoid the problems. What I propose is to put this principle - clarifying linguistics in the subtitles, but clarifying meaning in the notes - in the guidelines and follow it whenever such cases are encountered.

What do you think?


I like it, Lizzie, and it seems that others are agreeing as well. I am going to contact Marlyse to make sure she sees this and weighs in, as well... not to mention she might like to adjust the Guidelines and the Quickies.

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Wednesday, April 17th 2013, 6:56am

I agree that we shouldn't put words in people's mouth, this is a very important principle. In cases where the sentence makes no sense and the speaker's tongue has obviously forked, why not ask the speaker directly what he really meant? It happened to me with a Douglas Mallette video. I wrote to him (we are Facebook friends) and he admitted he meant to say the contrary, so I just corrected the subtitle.
In cases where the speaker does not finish his sentence, I think we need to let him take responsibility for that, and if he makes a gesture, the viewers will also see it and be able to infer the meaning.
For the English transcription team, it is a good idea to put any clarification in the video notes, in order to help the translators down the line. But I would avoid the square brackets within the transcription as much as possible. As for changing the guidelines, I could add a small item under "do not transcribe" indicating that in cases where a sentence does not make sense, we should consult with the speaker to find the intended meaning and correct the subtitle accordingly. (written with thumbs, sorry for any typo) M

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Sunday, April 21st 2013, 3:38pm

(I moved your post here, Marlyse, as this is the thread intended for discussion on this issue.)

Contacting the person to clarify indeed seems an additional very important point.

So, to summarize: subtitles should only contain linguistic clarifications, if necessary. Clarifications on meaning are very much appreciated, but they are better carried out in the notes for the video. When needed (i.e. the team can't decide on what is said or what is meant), clarification should be sought from the source.

Sounds good? This is the way to improve the guidelines, folks. The more input there is, the better we can make them.

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Sunday, April 21st 2013, 3:48pm

subtitles should only contain linguistic clarifications, if necessary. Clarifications on meaning are very much appreciated, but they are better carried out in the notes for the video. When needed (i.e. the team can't decide on what is said or what is meant), clarification should be sought from the source.


WoooHooo! :cheer:
Good summary, Lizzie! :thumbsup:

Hey, Marlyse, whatcha think of putting that in the Guidelines? :eyelashes:

Thanks, Lizzie! :bow:
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Saturday, September 13th 2014, 9:37pm

(1.5 yrs later) OK here's my 2 cents:

Yes it's great to ask the original speaker to clarify, if that person is available, and I myself have done this whenever possible. However when that person is *not* available (like Jacque) I will use my best judgement, and that includes square bracketed contextual words within the speaker's lines, in order to make sense and add proper context, within an otherwise unintelligible line, within reason.
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