How dubbing actors work: part 2

    In the first part of our review, we talked about the process - from translation to styling and dubbing, remembered the great dubbing actors and talked about why they were far from as simple as they seemed.

    Today we’ll dive into the details: we’ll see why it’s almost impossible to translate jokes and obscene language well, because of which dubbing may be better than the original voice acting and what are the features of the work of the voice actors of the anime voice acting in Japan. Photo Jordan Scott / CC BY

    What else affects dubbing: jokes and more

    One of the most difficult tasks in dubbing films, television series and cartoons is the translation of jokes, abuse and various references, which are mostly understood by native speakers and often elude representatives of other cultures.

    There are two options: literal translation and contextual.

    In the first case, the translation is done close to the text. The risk of this option is that even the most competent translation may be incomprehensible to the Russian audience simply because the joke was made in a different cultural, historical and social context. But then such a dubbing will be difficult to blame for distorting the original meaning and original.

    In the second case, the translation is adapted to the audience of the target language. For example, one of the popular translations of Courage-Bambia is the series “Everyone Hates Chris,” where he (Denis Kolesnikov) adapted not only jokes, but even the names of heroes, street names, brands and food. This made sense - the translator proceeded from the idea that the original names would simply not be understandable to anyone, and that the Russian audience would be able to laugh at adapted jokes, and the function of the comedy series would be fulfilled.

    As a result, the translation most often uses something in between - some jokes (especially if it is a play of words or even letters and sounds) adapt to the audience as much as possible, and some are translated verbatim. It is very difficult to do both, and to translate qualitatively, without distorting the meaning, and to preserve humor. It looks like a good translation of an art book - it is important to preserve both the meaning and strength of the original text.

    Installation sheets for jokes, curses, or other places that may not be understood by translators from other countries often provide explanations. In dialogs and scripts of major films and TV shows, such explanations can be very detailed. Therefore, poorly translated jokes in the movies rarely turn out to be the result of the fact that "the translator simply did not understand the humor."

    The reasons can be different: from the very broken phone of the whole dubbing process (several people make corrections, then the studio approves them with another ten people, especially if the film is large, and so on) to some internal reasons why the joke could not be made at the box office (for example, inappropriateness or fear that they will not understand the joke or will understand it wrong).

    A similar story extends not only to humor, but also, for example, to curses - in translations they sometimes disappear where they are in the original, and appear in other places. This is due to censorship (internal or external), or the desire to "pull" the content under a certain age rating.

    Mate translation is a creative lesson, but not as difficult as joking, because most often it can be safely done contextually (the point here is more likely in the fact of abuse, although swearing can be a play on words or language allusions), and use the process of all cognition in taboo vocabulary.

    When dubbing, the original meaning of the replica or even the whole replica may be lost not only due to insufficient translation quality or some cultural features, but also due to local reasons. For example, Tatyana Omelchenko from “Cubic in Cuba” talked about how they were once asked to remove expressions like “My God” from a translation out of fear of the law on insulting the feelings of believers. Such things also affect the final dubbing.

    Dubbing in Japan

    In most countries, theater and cinema actors are often dubbing - only occasionally the voice acting becomes their main specialization. But in Japan, this is a separate profession - seiyu, "voice actor". Seiyu are engaged in dubbing anime and video games, re-dubbing foreign films into Japanese, acting as storytellers in radio shows and audio dramas, voicing commercials and audio books.

    Interestingly, most often women become seiyu. Female voices in the Japanese film industry are more in demand because they can voice not only female roles, but also children and teenage boys (there are a lot of them in anime and Japanese video games).

    To become a seiyuu, one must undergo training in special courses, which are quite difficult to enter - the competition is very large. There, students are taught not only to use their voices, portray different characters, portray heroes of different sexes and ages, but also to professionally sing. Therefore, talented seiyu often not only work in voice acting, but also build a career on the stage. They received their share of attention in the 80s, when Japan began to actively create animated series.

    In Russia, a dubbing actor is often “attached” to a particular actor (for example, the famous Russian dubbing actor Vsevolod Kuznetsov gave a “voice” to Brad Pitt, Kean Reeves and Tom Cruise - this is what we hear in cinemas). In Japan, seiyu are associated with the anime characters that they voice - especially if it is a popular series, which then receives a full-length film, bonus series, radio shows and video games.

    Dubbing or the original?

    With the development of the culture of consumption of series, the positions diverge more and more. Someone advocates viewing the content in the original with subtitles - the original acting cannot be replaced or conveyed, the true meaning of jokes and sentences cannot be fully understood in dubbing.

    Someone does not like to read subtitles, because it violates the integrity of the viewing experience, and sometimes even gets used to the voices of a particular dubbing studio. For example, “The Big Bang Theory” was long voiced by “Courage-Bambey”, and when the series began to be shown on STS, many could not get used to the new voices of the heroes.

    A special category is films and series, where dubbing unexpectedly turned out to be even better than the original. For example, many recognize that the Russian dubbing of Shrek is better than the original voice acting, because it more fully conveys the character's character. Shrek at the Russian box office was duplicated by Alexei Kolgan.

    Another example is the series “Clinic” in the translation of the MTV channel. He went on the air until the ubiquitous appearance of unlimited Internet, and therefore became almost a household word: Evgeny Rybov voiced all the male characters in the series (from JD to Dr. Cox).

    Another clear example is Goblin's translations, which are an independent stand-up performance around the original content. His dubbing - a gag over what is happening - is a peculiar form of independent creativity.

    And do you prefer to watch movies: in the original or duplicated? Do you have any favorite dubbing actors or dubbing studios?

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