Thursday, January 7, 2010

French to English: Film Titles, Part 2

I can't wait!  The Movie Network will be airing "Polytechnique" tonight at 9, a movie directed by Denis Villeneuve.  On December 6, 1989, a mentally unstable man - Marc Lepine - entered the École Polytechnique of the University of Montreal.  Firing his semiautomatic rifle at random, he killed 14 women, all of them bright, engineering students.

That incident sparked panic and indignation not only in Canada but elsewhere; it was later known as the Montreal Massacre and that's how history will remember it. 

What was mind-boggling is that Montreal has always had a low crime rate (they say "blame" it on the cold, bitter weather) so when this happened, a painful and lingering shock crept into our psyche.  Television footage of the crime scene and of the funeral with the grieving families will remain etched in our memory.

I'll be paying close attention to the subtitles when I watch the movie tonight.  I'll keep you posted on my reactions - both about the subtitles and if the film held my attention from beginning to end.  Stay tuned.

Here's your second set of film titles in French and English:

À vos marques, prêts, décorez
Deck the Halls (2006)
Accros du rétro
Kickin' it Old Skool (2007)
Adieu Grace
Grace is Gone (2007)
Ados extrêmes
Extreme Movie (2008)
Ailleurs nous irons
Away We Go (2009)
Alma Mahler - La fiancée du vent
Bride of the Wind (2008)
Amour sous influence
Personal Effects (2009)
Ananas express
Pineapple Express (2008)
L'Ange de pierre
Stone Angel (2008)
Angles d'attaque
Vantage Point
Après la noce
After the Wedding (2007)
Au bout de la route
Reservation Road (2007)

Can you guess what "close-captioned" is in French?  It's a long 5-word translation.  Termium's translation is:  encodé pour les personnes malentendantes.  A mouthful.  It however gives us an idea of what close captioning involves.

In some countries like the UK, they make no distinction between subtitling and close captioning.  Here in Canada, subtitling is intended for people who have no hearing impediment but who can't understand the language of the original film.  Close captioning, on the other hand, is for people with a hearing problem.

For hearing-impaired viewers watching their favorite TV show, they use a feature in their TV sets called a decoder.  By activating it, they can read what's being said.  Decoders come as a separate gadget or are built into television sets.  In the US, it became law in 1993 for manufacturers of 13-inch TV sets to include a decoder in television sets.  The captions appear at the bottom of the screen. 

Closed captioning is also useful when there's a TV set in noisy and crowded places like restaurants and airports.  My gym has half a dozen tv sets perched from the ceiling and they all have feature.  The gym manager turns off the sounds coming from the TV (because the sound system - music - is blasting away) but the decoder makes it possible for us to watch and read what the hoopla is all about on screen.

In my last blog I mentioned a book on audiovisual translation by Jorge Diaz-Cintas.  I found two more on Amazon that may help you if you're seriously considering a translation career with specialization in subtitling and close captioning:

1.  The Elements of Subtitles: A Practical Guide to the Art of Dialogue, Character, Context, Tone & Style by D. Bannon (2009); and

2.  Closed Captioning: Subtitling, Stenography and the Digital Convergence of Text with Television by Gregory J. Downey (January 2008).



  1. Thank you for mentioning The Elements of Subtitles in your very useful and informative blog. I hope it helps those readers interested in the art and craft of subtitling.

  2. You're welcome. Are you the author? If so, I'm extremely delighted that you've taken the time to leave me some kind words.

  3. Yes, I am the author, for better or worse. Thank you again for suggesting these titles to your readers.

  4. I am honored! Thank you, D. Bannon!

  5. Thanks again for giving The Elements of Subtitles a nod! I shamelessly note that a Revised and Expanded Edition was published in March.

    I'm also the series editor for The Bilingual Library. Some of your readers, particularly the Dumas fans, might find it interesting or at least distracting! Here's our current (small but growing) catalogue:

    And the usual info:

    The Bilingual Library presents the world’s classics in parallel text. Each page in the original language is mirrored by its English translation on the facing page. Every title is complete and unabridged, with introductory notes and dozens of illustrations.

    We've recently published The Black Tulip—La Tulipe noire (single volume) and The Count of Monte Cristo—Le Comte de Monte-Cristo in Six Volumes, both complete and unabridged in English-French parallel text. The Monte Cristo French text is taken from the 6-volume Michel Lévy nouvelle collection, edited by Calmann-Lévy, printed in 1889 as part of the publisher’s Œuvres Complètes d’Alexandre Dumas series. The volumes were compact and divided to be priced affordably at one franc each. Our series divides volumes according to the Calmann-Lévy model. Parallel texts are essentially two books in one, so it's clear why we need so many volumes!

    In the coming months we'll be producing Émile François Zola's Thérèse Raquin in parallel text in a single volume, as well as the complete d'Artagnan Romances (commonly known in English as The Three Musketeers, Twenty Years After and The Vicomte of Bragelonne: Ten Years Later) in multiple volumes.

    There are many classics, of course, but we choose those that have stood the test of time and hopefully have multi-cultural and bilingual appeal. Any suggestions for future books would be gratefully received!