CC VS Subtitles: The Squid Game Dilemma

There is a huge misconception and confusion about what are closed captions and what are subtitles. We come across each of them in our day-to-day lives, engage with them, & be entertained or comprehend the video with their help.

The debate actually got a major stir in recent times due to the South Korean series created by Hwang Dong-hyuk named Squid Games. The series became so popular and hit the top stop on Netflix in about 90 countries, released with subtitles in 31 and dubbed in 13 languages. The number of people showing interest in non-English content was overwhelming, and Squid Games was quite the talk of the town. However, some of the viewers have pointed out that while translating the captions or subtitles of the series the makers have “botched” the translations and ripped the audience off from the true meanings of the dialogues. 

Afterward, the debate got heated up and groups were divided among the viewers on different social media platforms. Some favor the Closed Captions and some Subtitles. However, understanding what either of the two requires also requires understanding how they differ from each other. Voyzapp – the best voice-over marketplace has put in efforts here to explain the two in the simplest way possible. Understanding the two would also help you understand what went wrong with Squid Game texts, why there was so much noise about it. Let’s dive into it –

Subtitles – 

Subtitles are the text substitute for the said dialogues of the characters and narrators in a video. Subtitles aim to make the content as much enjoyable and relevant as possible for global audiences. However, subtitle translators have to work within strict parameters. Parameters like – There is a limit to how much text the audience can read while actors deliver those corresponding lines, also, translated texts cannot take up too much screen space.

Therefore, translators are pressed to shorten the subtitles to align with the dialogue & save time to watch the scenes. Within subtitles, it is impractical to expect complete cultural context behind all the references and sayings.

Of course, supplementing foreign-language content with wide-ranging background info would be educational, but it would significantly interrupt storytelling and engagement ruining the viewer experience.

A super intricate viewing experience would estrange casual viewers & therefore, a translator & professional subtitling agency would interpret wit and nuanced language in such a way that seems relatable and natural, all while conserving general meaning. Many viewers despite knowing the foreign language choose to put on subtitles not only to increase the comprehensibility but also to learn new words. For instance, keen Japanese learners watch plenty of Anime with subtitles.

Closed Captions –

Closed Captions refer to the time-marked text transcriptions of the audio in a video or a film. Along with the transcriptions of spoken dialogues, closed captions also include texts for vital sounds, music, speakers’ names, & sometimes physical expressions related to voice or the dialogue.

As closed captions are mostly intended to help those who are hard of hearing and therefore describe every type of sound be it music or dialogue in the text format. These closed captions are often autogenerated from a dubbed version of the video or the film, therefore, the quality of dubbing also impacts its quality in terms of linguistic accuracy.

However, captions are of two types – open and closed. Closed captions or CC can be found on various streaming platforms where viewers have the choice to switch it on or off. On the other hand, open captions are hardcoded by a professional captioning agency in the original frames of the video and viewers have no control over them. Mostly used in business explainer videos open captions are utilized at places where the makers of the videos want the viewers to go through the captions.

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Subtitles VS CC: Squid Games discrepancies –

In Squid Games, some dialogues and sentences are meant differently in subtitles, translations, and captions, and therefore the whole debate started, let’s look at some examples –

  • Caption – I’m not a Genius, but I still got it [worked] out.
  • Translation – I’m very smart, I just did not get a chance to study.

It is to be understood here that translators have optimized the captioned dialogues to make sense to the international audience and specifically, those with hearing issues. Such optimization does not permit or leave enough space to provide cultural references.

Another such talked-about example is the name of the first episode. The first episode’s title is translated as ‘The day Mugunghwa Flowers blossomed.’  However, it was captioned as Red light, Greenlight.  Now the Mugunghwa flower has blossomed is a Korean Childhood game and therefore the title was captioned as its English equivalent game Red light, Green light for comprehensibility.

Despite the various claims made by many about the translations being sterilized or whatever, Squid Games was a worldwide success. So, unlike Squid Games, if you want accurate and precise captioning or subtitling services, or need dubbing or voice-over services, Voyzapp is the best and your go-to voice-over agency

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Written by Deepika-Gandhi

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