There is no doubt about the fact that audiovisual content platforms dominate the current entertainment scene. Netflix, HBO or Prime Video are the most popular ones, although new platforms are constantly coming out. Also the offer within them, which generates a constant and huge workflow in the scope of audiovisual translation.
The repercussion of the most successful content also causes the mistakes in some of these kinds of audiovisual translation, such as dubbing or subtitling, to have a greater impact.
In this post we will talk about some of the best-known mistakes in audiovisual translation of Netflix series (although we could talk about any audiovisual platform) and, in which most cases, the public sees them as being funny.
Some well-known mistakes in Netflix audiovisual translation
The following are some of the mistakes in series that have had the greatest repercussion (for better or for worse).
Luis Miguel: The Series
One of the most recent cases happened in the Luis Miguel: The Series drama, an original Netflix series in which the translation of a typical Andalusian expression, (mainly from Seville), “mi arma” (honey/darling) was translated as “my weapon,” which may not have been very well-liked in the south of Spain.
Squid Game has broken all the of the platform’s records getting more than 111 million views during the first 11 days. The Korean drama series, which is also a Netflix original series, also stood out for its subtitling into Spanish. The expression “damn it,” which could be translated into many other foul expressions in Spanish, was translated as “maldita sea,” which is much more polite and less used. It can be compared to the expression “What the hell?”, which has been translated as “¿qué diablos…? If you’re a Spanish speaker, have you ever used any of these two expressions in your day-to-day?
But there’s more to this Asian drama’s translation. There were also problems with the phrase “go first,” translated as “dejaré que vaya primero” (I’ll let him go first), which a human translator would have known it should have been translated as “dejaré que tire primero” (I’ll let him throw first) or any other informal expression like “start” or “open” referring to the game.
Translation mistakes were not only found in Spanish but in English as well. In this case, one of the fundamental problems was the difficulty in localizing Korean pop culture.
Even though it can no longer be found on the platform, and it is obviously not a Netflix original series, the arrival of the legendary TV show Friends to the platform was incredibly popular.
Here we can also find some odd cases such as the translation of one of Ross’s lines: “Why, does it look like I’m having trouble with my misshapen claw?” which was translated as “¿Por qué? ¿Crees que tenga algún problema con mi ‘fractura de garra?’” which should have been translated as “¿Por qué? ¿Parece que tengo problemas con mi garra deforme?”
It’s normal to find many mistakes in a TV show with so many episodes as this one. It also happens with one of Chandler’s line: ”Honey, we’ve been over this,” translated as “cielo, ya hicimos todo,” when it would have been better to translate it as “ya hemos hablado de esto.”
As we mentioned, the best-known mistakes in audiovisual translation are those of the most popular series and movies. There are many more examples in productions that are or have been available on the platform, such as Riverdale or The Big Bang Theory, whose subtitling has also caught people’s attention.
Nowadays it is quite common to use automatic translation software to carry our most of the translations of these audiovisual projects. However, it should be remembered that automatic translation and human post-editing must go hand in hand. Expert translators will be capable of making the translation make sense and/or adapt it taking the context into account.
Specialized audiovisual translators will care for your project, thus avoiding the prospect that your TV show will be included in posts like this one. Your project succeeding or failing in any other country will greatly depend on the importance you give to its translation.