Expert translator shares excellent careers advice with student linguists

Expert translator shares excellent careers advice with student linguists

27 April 2021

Subtitles took centre stage for once in a very interesting online session enjoyed by language students and staff with professional translator Lucy Harford on Tuesday 20 April.  Lucy talked about the process of creating subtitles for French language shows appearing on platforms such as All4 and Netlix, including Detective Cain, Contact and Sakho & Mangane, before answering a plethora of questions from her very engaged audience.

The importance of having a really good, up-to-date, handle on your mother tongue by reading widely on many and varied subjects was some of the great advice shared by Lucy. She also explained that, when cultural differences make like for like translation difficult, her aim is to give those reading the subtitles the same ‘experience’ a native French speaker gets. This was an area that Year 10 student Linda, who is studying French for GCSE, found particularly interesting, as she explains below.

Linda, Year 10

As a big fan of Disney, I often try listening to my favourite TV series in French. Lucy made me realise that there are actually real translators ‘behind the scenes’, allowing viewers worldwide to enjoy the same show in different languages. For me, the most interesting translation challenge Lucy highlighted is the problem of translating a joke made in a particular language for viewers all around the world with different backgrounds. A particular pun in English, for example, probably does not exist in Chinese. It’s therefore really fascinating to see how subtitle translators deal with different problems and find the way to bring happiness to viewers around the globe.