Summer is here and with it: blockbuster movies. We're lucky in the U.S., blockbuster movies are written and produced in English, so we get to see and hear them exactly as the director intended. But in other countries, audiences are usually treated to subtitles or dubbing. This can make for some very funny or awkward moments if the translator isn't up to par. We've probably all watched foreign films where a touching scene is made hilarious by a mis-translated word.
Accurately translating movies and television shows is very difficult and requires highly skilled linguists. Similar cultural references often don't exist in the destination country, jokes can be extremely hard to translate, and problems that seem serious in a first world country may not resonate at all in a less developed country.
This summer, when you find yourself with a tub of popcorn, frozen to your seat in a large air-conditioned theater, think about how the movie you're watching would be if it were over-dubbed or if it had subtitles. And the next time you watch a foreign film with really great subtitles, give some thought to the talented and hard-working translators that made it possible.