#subtitlefail! grateful for skilled humans

I’ve recently gained a lot of new followers on Twitter. I suspect some of this is due to my re-tweets having discovered that lots of people often tweet about mistakes they have spotted on their TV with subtitles or closed captioning. The majority of these occur for live TV such as the news and can be very amusing so  I encourage anyone on twitter who uses subtitles or closed captioning to join in the fun and hash tag anything you notice with #subtitlefail (and I will no doubt RT!)

Here is a round-up of just some of the #subtitlefail! tweets from last week. Please note: There is a UK bias here, because I am in the UK so am better equipped to understand the mistakes being made.

@chronicknitting According to the subtitles on BBC News, Attenborough is looking good today. Huw Edwards actually said ‘Edinburgh’
16 September 2010 15:28:11 BDT via web
@katcal Oh Channel4 subtitles. Love how they just made Jodie Marsh ask Iain Lee “how did the Jews (juice) get down there?”
16 September 2010 15:28:52 BDT via web
@InspectorMoss I love it when they do subtitles wrong on bbc iplayer ‘Baby cries lustfully’ errrr what??
16 September 2010 15:30:00 BDT via web
@periwinklewine Oh, BBC subtitles. She almost certainly did not just address the #pope as ‘Polly Father.’
17 September 2010 11:31:42 BDT via web
@badfaery Oh, closed captioning. Ben Aflekt? Really?
17 September 2010 11:39:45 BDT via web
@littlegibbo Person typing subtitles on C4 is drunk. Josh Harnett became Josh Hot Neck & Pussy turned into Papacy! … Come Dine with Me
about 24 hours ago via Echofon in reply to littlegibbo
@fashionxcourt The captioning on my tv picked up “white wine in you’re cooking.” My inner grammar nerd is totally cringing.
about 23 hours ago via Echofon in reply to fashionxcourt
@AdmiralTofu Closed captioning on #MSNBC just now: “She will have direct access to me and Sex Geithner…”
@mooosh yesterday I said the catholic church and the church of england are separated by golf…rather than by a gulf
about 3 hours ago via tGadget
@Beyondquotes Seeing welcome for the first time! Cracking up!! For necklace the subtitles said neckless! LO
about 3 hours ago via web
@skweeds Discovery channel keeps mis-captioning “Appalachian” as “Appellation”. “Appellation mountains”? Come on, guys.
about 3 hours ago via web
@101John Watching news while at the gym, subtitles quoted “These cheeses is gone now flesh” when discussing the Pope visit!
about 3 hours ago via web
@jakehewkin Live subtitles on Sky News of the (cunt)Pope’s speech are hysterically inaccurate!
about 2 hours ago via web

I suspect some people tweeting have no idea of the skills required for subtitling, in particular for live/unscripted broadcast. So anyone in the subtitling or captioning industry reading this do not get me wrong – your efforts are much appreciated and the mistakes are not a complaint. It’s just they can be pretty funny! And sometimes just plain odd.  When it is as bonkers as this next example – it’s because it is cheap – voice recognition technology has a long way to go before it can match the quality of skilled subtitlers/captioners in the form of a human being. It is here where I do have a complaint – case in point – take a look at this:

What kind of weather is that?! Another example of an US local news station’s live closed captioning from a more recent broadcast has been posted to You Tube and includes a transcript of the closed captions- you try and work it out.

Police arrested eight dominion worker who is accused of inappropriately touching any any child childbirth childbirth educators tell CBS six is excuse the crime happened in upended by happened inside the park. I am Stephanie Rochon. 21-year-old John has been after an incident at Kiings Dominion several weeks ago, but as Jon Burkett tells does is is it is if it the chart links where police is too severe. Townsfolk with him John spoke with him and representatives with more one of the CBS six exclusive. The couple he coupled the couple of witnesses even surveillance video what is not clear is what exactly happened if foreign exchange student and I’m too busy an blue Agassi (!) did nothing wrong but apart from Tennessee tells teputies that bind going to go too to for too far when helping hoping is that you -year-old son. For years Kings Dominion has reached out to college for an exchange student offering competitive pay for seasonal work. And I were deputies say one of the perks exchanges exchange student workers Donna Wang has been accused in and charged with aggravated sexual battery. I would consider anything good the defendant did due to be probably the least heinous (but he pronounces it hay-nee-ous) assault if at all. As I think I told you, we have entered into discussions already about trying to resolve those issues. Wang Wing, Wang (LOL), Chinese nationalist currently in jail, the charge comes after he, Tennesse bother father decision bother visiting posted beaties because he feels his eight-year-old son was inappropriately touched thanks attorney, says there are couple of witnesses, but once you review surveillance tape to picture becomes murky clear (HA). The impact any video game videogame and that there may have been an instance where the young man Tuesday to see you in on the cheek. He says is his work is what would become will become worth of the what would become worth of the Commonwealth Attorney to get the church against his client reduced reduce reduced he is focused in getting Wang an earlier court date will lead to Québec my ticket back to Beijing. As I understand it, here’s an nonstop ticket from DC to Beijing, we just have to get the date changed. I start with got start with the Kings Dominion spokesperson Dominion spokesperson by here for me to some of somewhat bitterly. Some of the tourney. I stop by the prosecutor’s office around four this afternoon, he was not immediately available for comment.

Here’s the clip:

Laughing aside, this to me clearly highlights the importance of investing in some skilled staff to provide a decent service for those that rely on subtitles. Voice recognition technology might well be cheaper than employing a human being but the channel’s above are failing their audience with that level of service.

Somehow those #subtitlefail! ‘s on twitter don’t seem half as bad.  And I am grateful for that.

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