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Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Sep 11, 2017 10:28 am


Mon Sep 11, 2017 10:49 am

Hi. I believe the marking of "machine translated", along with the rating, should be enough to inform the user.

I do take the take time to make machine translations after checking the sync is OK. Simply because a bad subtitle is better than no subtitle at all and because I know for certain that not everybody that could resync a subtitle for a particular release, would take the tame to do it. So this is my interpretation of giving out work into a community, I cover this technical part so somebody else could improve it.

I studied film and I'm from southamerica. Some material is practically impossible to get elsewhere. And certainly not everybody understands a second language. A rough translation it does have a cultural usefulness when you don't have another option... just like when you find and old celluloid film in bad condition you don't put it in the trash because the copy is bad: you value the fact that is the only copy.

A few days ago I did a machine translation of a few old german Sci-Fi movies. For someone that studies the genre, or even a plain fan of it, that rough translation does have a value. If I have the option, pursuing the best possible output, I do the translation from a close language; for example to italian from french, to swedish from german, to portuguese from spanish.

Yesterday some admin deleted an italian machine translation from a Christian Petzold movie that I did after I couldn't find it elsewhere. Today, two more in the same situation. "Akvanavty" (1979) is one of the few underwater Sci-Fi films. "Der Fall Gleiwitz" (1961) portraits the false flag attack that was used as an excuse for Germany to invade Poland, thus starting WWII. You see, both have an intrinsic historic value and the lack of subtitles at all, equals their status to "lost." Like the Alexandria Library. Gone.

So, if this is an open community, I can start a thread with the technical aspect done, so tomorrow the Michelangelo of translations can bless the human kind with subtleties. But until that moment, a rough translations DOES A LOT to put you in context and following the structure (something that a filmmaking or screenwriting student needs to analyze a film).

So, I understand the guidelines, but if an open community is about sharing knowledge, I'm afraid this guideline is contradicting this principle. I propose that admins at least check if the machine translated subtitle is the only one available in that particular language.



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Mon Sep 11, 2017 10:32 pm

There has already been a very lengthy discussion about machine translations, including the arguments you mention. It is a bit hard to find a reason to repeat the same things again, but maybe this could be a resume.

- The marking of "machine translated", along with the rating, should be enough to inform the user.
Reality is that uploaders often do not mark machine translations as such and downloaders overlook it. Not to mention API-controlled software lacking this option. Besides the fact that most subs are not rated at all, those ratings are and will always be a subjective opinion. Also, unfortunately, they are often used as expressing happiness (before using them) rather than quality (after using them). I have seen machine translations getting a 10/10 rating and a good subtitle getting a 1/10.

- Better a bad subtitle than no subtitle at all.
This is your opinion, but the majority of users think differently. They rather wait for a decent subtitle than dealing with a machine translation. They rather wait, even till eternity, than having the irritation and frustration that comes with a machine translation.

- Machine translations are not that bad.
They are. Typically, they vary from very bad to plainly useless. Untranslated words, html left-overs inside, twisted sentences, wrong translations(!) etc. etc. It depends a bit on the source. Some phrases may be translated more or less well enough. But in many cases the result is just incomprehensible, sometimes maybe possible to understand after some 'studying', but in subtitles, when watching a movie, there is just not enough time for that.

- You find and old celluloid film in bad condition: you value the fact that is the only copy.
True. But a machine translation is not "the only copy". It is a translation of an existing subtitle that can be made (again) any time, within a few mouse clicks and one or two minutes waiting time.

- The lack of subtitles at all, equals their status to "lost".
No. Same as above - it is not the only subtitle available. It is (maybe) the only available subtitle in that one given language. Nothing is lost. Unlike the Alexandria Library, it can be recovered any time in no time.

- Machine translations are a (first) step towards a decent subtitle.
I disagree. Correcting a machine translated subtitle is more time consuming with probably even a lesser result than making a subtitle from scratch. If a subtitler would like to start with a machine translation anyway, they will know how to do this. Making a subtitle for an average movie is roughly 15 hours work. Two minutes more shouldn't be a problem.

- OpenSubtitles,org is an open community.
Yes. But it is a community to provide subtitles, not work to do.

- At least check if the machine translated subtitle is the only one available.
We have considered (and done) that too. But still all the above applies.

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Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:36 am

Thanks for sitting there :)

I guess my opinion is biased by my own experience, as a student of filmmaking and before that as a sailor. In both circumstances all the people that surrounded me had a very different view on this matter. And this includes my geographical location. For the times I've been in Bolivia Perú or Brazil, a foreign language sub equals to none.

About the rating system and the way it is utilized, I had that same impression about how it seems to be used. By the way, with the "thanks" button I also noticed that, ugly and all, even the machine translations get thanked, while it is also true that my subs are rarely from mainstream movies.

Lastly, I'm left wandering why the "machine translation" checkbox is not replaced by a "give it up, erase this crap". ;) Just kidding.

Thanks again! very kind of you :)

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Tue Dec 25, 2018 11:14 pm

I just thought, I'll pitch in my 2 cent worth of opinion. I'm a new member on this forum and I really do value all the efforts, that its management does for trying to provide quality translations to all whom are interested. But in this topic (or on this topic) I'm siding with the Argentinian fellow and let me explain to you all why, using my own example:

I'm a Hungarian dude, who lived in the US for over 20 years, so I have no complaints about my Hungarian and English. But just recently I discovered a really great German actress Felicitas Woll (Dresden, Crown for Izabell, Liebe Mauer, Berlin, Berlin, etc.) and I managed to find Subtitles for several of her movies in English, except for the 86 parts of TV series "Berlin, Berlin". Since I don't speak German at all, and I didn't feel like waiting for a miracle subtitles series of 86 till eternity, I decided to take things in my own hands and figured out how to do mass translation with Google Translate. (when I say "mass" I mean to do translations by episodes.)

And I translated all episodes of the first three seasons from German to English and already watched them all. (I couldn't do the 4th season because they're not done yet in German.)

My wife and I had a blast watching all 60 something episodes within a week. It is true, that the quality of the translation is sub par, way horrible, but as the Argentinian fellow said, a machine translated subtitles are still better than nothing. And I really mean it. Why?

1. Because the human brain is a wonderful but mysterious part of our body that can do miracles when it receives mixed signals from several receptors simultaneously: eye: the movie itself, ear: the tone of the actor's voice, the subtitles with the sense of puzzle, similar to this:

1 d6n't kn6w wh7 1'm n6t 3bl9 t6 r38d th1s t3xt.

2. Because I don't speak German, I am 59 year old and don't plan to learn German any time soon, and since we're talking about 86 episodes, the chances are, that no one will waste time on so many episodes to get translated to English any time soon. (1 episode is 20 min. long, so 3 episodes make up an hour, so roughly we're talking about 30 x 1 hour long movies, let's multiply it by 15 hours = 450 hours of hard labor.

When we started to watch the first few episodes, the sub par quality of the subtitles did bother us a bit, but as we proceeded to watch all sixty something, we completely forgot about the sub par quality of the machine translated subtitles, and we enjoyed the episodes like if we spoke German.

So, if it was up to me, I would not object to machine translated subtitles when it's about not a single 100 min. long movie but TV series, with several hundreds of hours.

I think, it would be easy to notify all movie viewers about the fact that any given subtitles were translated by machine by placing "MACHINE TRANSLATED" to be the very first subtitle right at the beginning of such movies, displayed for about 5 seconds at least.

By the way, I think, one reason of the bad quality that machine translators put out when it comes to subtitles file (.srt), because very often the original author of the subtitles puts a comma at the end of the 1st line, and that really messes up the grammar of an English sentence.

If I'll have time I will compare translations done with and without commas just to see whether I'm right.

So, here is my 64 thousand $ question: I (Google machine) created English subtitles for about 60 episodes of Berlin, Berlin, could I go ahead and upload them here, or I shouldn't bother because they will be deleted anyway?


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Wed Dec 26, 2018 2:33 pm

I just realized, that machine translated subtitles can provide enough information ONLY for those folks who speak the language in question fluently or semi fluently, because they read sentences in images instead of word by word and translating them back to their native language.

Therefore I totally agree with those, who claim, that machine translated subtitles are worthless - Yes, they are but only for those folks who are still learning a language. But for those who speak fluently, it is only a minor inconvenience.

So, just because, a method is not usable by a certain group of folks, that doesn't mean, that that method should be outcast-ed totally because it DOES work for other group of folks.

The only thing is, that it is important, that the machine translated subtitles should be clearly marked, AND when someone does a search on a movie title, there should be checkbox there for "machine translated", meaning, that folks should have a freedom of choice to select it if it is OK to display machine translated results next to the ones that were translated by humans.

As far as the API called subtitles... this is really just a programming issue, folks in charge of this stuff should get together and decide how to distinguish human and non human translations and just use that standard that they came up with. Sooner or later everything will be machine translated, we all know that, unless all folks will speak the same language to keep it simple.

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Wed Dec 26, 2018 3:02 pm

GLevay, welcome to forum and thanks for nice feedback. I totally feel you, and you are in many ways right. On new site - - we will have possibility for VIP users download even better Machine translation than from google, we are working hard to get it - and it will be blast. So basically, we will have a lot languages which are supported to translate from and to:

and by the time more and more will be supported.

For your question - feel free to upload subtitles, just correctly mark them.


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