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Another long break due to a vpn crash. Have to say this time I was actually a bit relieved as it prevented me from wasting time on Facebook etc. and helped me spend it in the pursuit of my many new projects, all of which are time-consuming (okay, so one of them is school – the new semester has just kicked off – and another one will get me some money, so technically it’s work. But I’ve got a few other things going too!). It’s revived now, though, so here I am, dutiful and infallible <khem, khem>.

So a few days ago I borrowed a film from a friend. It was a French comedy (De Vrais Mensonges – English title: Beautiful Lies) with Audrey Tautou about a hairdresser who gets an anonymous love declaration she doesn’t care about, but then sends it on to her mother, depressed after going through a divorce.

Five minutes into the movie I realised something. The person doing the English subtitles did not speak English.

Fine, I thought. I’ll put on Chinese subtitles. Five minutes after this I realised something else. The person doing the Chinese subtitles didn’t know French.

All right, so I don’t speak French myself – but thanks to some knowledge of Spanish and random vocabulary picked up from films, books and people sometimes I can at least vaguely understand what a dialogue is about. That person didn’t. In the end I discovered that they simply made the script up from scratch – as long as it more or less matched what was going on on the screen, it was fine. Only it really, really wasn’t!

I’ll give you an example (of the English translation, which is basically a literal translation from Chinese – yes, I’ve actually put it on again and am copying the dialogues down word by word). Here’s what happens: She (the hairdresser) has just come back to her salon to find Him (her odd-job man, who wrote the love letter, which she doesn’t know about) yelling in Chinese at a couple of Chinese customers who tried to steal something. She calls him to her office.

She: (nervous) So you speak Korean? And Japanese?

He: Yes.

She: So which one was it just now?

He: Chinese.

She: …(stunned) …So why can’t I see any of it in your resume? (shuffling papers) …Responsible for… what did you say it was?

He: Translation in the Asian section…

She: Right… So why?

He: Because I didn’t think this was what you were looking for.

(A bit which I don’t understand at all, but I think she’s just asking him about what he did and why he quitted)

He: Because I got nervous during some negotiations between the Chinese and Italian ambassadors and (something something).

She: (speechless and intimidated): …So you Speak Italian too?

He: Yes. (another bit I don’t get, but then…) And I saw the ad in the window of your salon.

She: Odd-job man.

He: Yes, that’s exactly what I was looking for. Something simple, not complicated and without responsibilities.

She: No, no, but you DO have responsibilities! You’re responsible for (something something) and for the safety of our workers and customers!

He: No, no, I didn’t mean it like that.

(Something something, how can she trust him, he’d lied to her, blah blah blah…)

She: Okay. (In English) You can go now.

You get the gist. And now… these are the exact subtitles:

She: You see them stealing?

He: Yes.

She: Really?

He: Yes.

She: You can speak clearly?

He: Which side are you referring to?

She: Well, I’ll give you more Tell me. I said… You guess it?

He: I hope you can tell me.

She: Well. So be it.

He: In fact, the best way. What you tell me the truth directly.

She: You know I do not like dragging dry.

He: I know.

She: You should get the picture fishes (!!! sic!)… That is… This.

He: What How?

She: You really do not know?

He: Is.

She: If you really do not know It a bit strange. Because you should know.

He: Which side are you referring to?

She: You still do not know?

He: Really do not know. Before coming here I guess a little thought for a moment. I think this will not be…

She: The letter was true? You serious?

He: If you go there looking for the origin of closure Better believe me. I also received the news of insider. The thing is complicated. I hope you can believe me.

She: Who told you that the message is the

He: This is not necessarily to tell you. In short, it is true. I do not want that to happen.

She: What do you think should be how to solve it?

He: You mean to expect me?

She: I mean We always need to find a solution. Way you have it?

He: I can think of…

She: You can solve it? You assured me it?

He: Can it.

She: Expression of a very doubtful.

He: In fact, I am also hearsay

She: You lying?

He: What?

She: Well, I frankly tell you the truth.

He: What do you say?

She: It is no big deal. You look at this document.

He: In the end you want to say? You always say that a set of. Also do a.

She: Well. Well, being so… You can go.

…They’re not getting an Oscar for THIS….

Image: courtesy of http://www.impawards.com