Film Script Translation

You’re an awesome film creator who doesn’t want to limit your audience to those who speak your language. You want to tell your story to a multi-national audience, so you will probably need to get a film script translation in more than one language, depending on the number of countries to which you want to release your film.

However, when you get your translations done, you want anyone who sees your film to understand its basic principles. Not only that, you want to preserve the tone, passion, and context in your movie so it translates well to anyone who will watch it in their native language.

Film Script Translation Services


Regional targeting

Most countries have a common language. However, accents and vocabulary, as well as cultural norms may vary from region to region within a single country, especially in larger countries. So, you certainly don’t want to offend an audience to which you are trying to appeal. You want a translation that keeps localized cultural norms in mind, especially in areas you are not familiar with.

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There are several techniques that a professional film translator will use to provide a faithful, culturally sensitive script translation in the many areas you, the film creator, want to distribute your movie.

The following techniques are common in the film translation process.

Literal translation

A word-for-word translation is doable for translating from some languages to others. For instance, a particular sentence may be easily translatable between Spanish and English. However, that same Spanish sentence may not translate well word-for-word from Spanish to German or French because of sentence structure differences between languages. In fact, even if one sentence in a particular language can be translated word-for-word into several languages, that does not mean that other sentences within a film script can be translated the same way.

When is oblique translation needed?

Oblique translation can help when conceptual or structural elements in the original film script are not easily translatable to other languages. Companies cannot provide script translation and subtitling services without changing the meaning or distorting stylistic or grammatical elements in a target language.

Oblique methods include the following:

  • Transposition – Some languages may transpose the order for parts of speech such as a noun and adjective. For example, the Spanish translation of the English “green (adjective) chair (noun)” reverses the order of the noun and adjective to “silla (noun) verde (adjective)”.
  • Equivalence or reformulation – When using this method of film script translation, the translator must express something in the target language in a totally different way than the original language. This is especially true for idioms (e.g., “Get off my back!” which means “Stop bothering me!”). This method may also apply to advertising slogans.
  • Compensation – There may be situations in which a particular phrase or sentence cannot be translated between languages for one reason or another. Although the idea being expressed may be lost in one part of the script, it can be expressed somewhere else. This script translation method can require a certain degree of creativity from a movie translator to make sure that he or she successfully conveys the meaning in a phrase or sentence as it applies to the film as a whole.
  • Modulation – This method involves using different phrases between the original and target languages to get the same idea across. When using modulation, script translator renders a change in the point of view when translating, all the while not losing any of the intended meaning or creating awkwardness in the way the phrase is expressed.

Other considerations regarding film script translation

According to an article by the American Translators Association (ATA), there is a major difference between translating a novel and a movie. Novels, or even non-fiction books, are intended for the reader’s enjoyment or education. We can consider the reader an end-user, and length just depends upon the end user’s individual reading speed.

Film scripts are somewhat more complicated. However, one can consider a screenplay as “the blueprint for a film.” This means that the dialogue will most likely go through several edits. So, any film script translation will most likely require re-translation.

Additionally, screenplays use a standard format that includes a basic structure for layout and formatting (including details such as point size), etc. The overall goal of this strict format is predicting the running time of a movie. In fact, one page of film script is equivalent to one minute in the movie.

The standard movie is approximately 90-120 minutes, and the overall expected movie length should be known. Generally, script translations can expand or contract the length of a film by 20 to 30 percent. Therefore, film writers and producers need to work out one major issue with a prospective translator before moving ahead with a translation. This may appear to be a trivial consideration, but clients and translators must negotiate whether the page numbers match between the original language and the target language to be able to predict uniform movie length.

Order a Film Script Translation

With so many details involved, it is very important that film script translation be as exacting as possible. So you want to find film translation companies that deliver these exacting requirements. Consider The Word Point translation services to get the job done.