Audio-only translation has long been the standard means of media translation in the form of dubbing; which brought foreign language television and film to audiences around the world. However, the translation being a naturally complicated process, the intrinsic limitations can sometimes lead to ineffective translations and misunderstandings.

Along with advances within the entertainment industry, dubbing studios have begun implementing multimedia translations; adapting not only the audio but also the visuals of a piece of content, which can tend to reduce negative results or mistakes inherent in the process of foreign language audio-only translating.

Dubbing, as opposed to subtitling, also allows the viewer to hear the dialogue in their native language while digesting all the visuals. If the viewer is less concerned with reading subtitles, they are free to digest and fully engage with the content; reading facial expressions, body language, and other contextual clues, ultimately taking away more from their viewing experience. Here we discuss why media localization is a better option than audio translation.

Lack of Cultural Context

One of the, if not most, significant limitations to audio-only translation are the potential loss of cultural context. Because language and culture are so intertwined, a prevalent challenge in foreign language dubbing or media translation is the preservation of the true meaning and message of the original.

More often than not, it is tricky to find an equivalent for certain words, phrases, or idioms in different languages, especially if the cultures are vastly different, making the translator’s job incredibly difficult. This issue can be largely resolved with a supplementary visual translation that accompanies the audio translation; making for a fuller experience and more in-depth engagement with the piece of work, as it was originally intended by the creator. This process is referred to as multimedia localization; altering a local message to make it accessible to global audiences.

Similarly, filmmakers can take a global message and make it more localized through multimedia localization, by highlighting specific plot points through audio and visual translation (multimedia localization), increasing the significance of a specific culture. In order to make works of television or film more widely accessible to those of different cultural or linguistic backgrounds, who may not have all the cultural context necessary to digest the original work, it may need to undergo multimedia translation or localization, to ensure it is significant to whichever audience is viewing it.

Audio Translation is Complex 

Another limitation to consider when relying on audio-only translations is the heightened potential for inaccuracies in the translation itself. Translating from one foreign language (source language), into another (target language) is a complex and nuanced process that requires a deep understanding of both respective languages and cultures. Professional dubbing studios offer a solution to resolve these issues inherent in foreign-language translation.

Enlisting the help of dubbing studios, like SPG, involves working closely with skilled translators and audio experts who can elicit and capture the nuances and subtleties of the original dialogue, as well as the cultural context in which it was spoken. In addition, professional studios often employ a team of language experts and quality control specialists to ensure that the final product is accurate and of high quality.

Lack of Engagement 

One more limitation of audio-only translation is the potential for monotony or boredom for viewers. Listening to dialogue that does not resonate with the viewer, for an extended period, can lead to a lack of engagement or interest in the content. The viewing experience should not be drastically altered from person to person, even if they don’t share the same language, customs, or culture.

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It never hurts to ask a professional for help – if you have a potential project in need of foreign-language translation, media translation, or multimedia localization, please reach out to us on our site, under ‘Contact Us’ – we can’t wait to answer your questions!

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