04 May 2013

Translating captions

Under the heading 10 Tips About How to Write a Caption, Daily Writing Tips blogger Mark Nichol makes ten excellent points that are as relevant to caption writers as they are to caption translators.

I fear, however, that he missed on critical point, namely the importance of looking closely as the image and making sure that the caption describes to precisely what can be seen or instantly deduced from same. I often find instances where someone has decided what they want to illustrate, chosen an image or graphic, the written a caption that says more about the illustration they were hoping to find than it does about the one actually used. Sometimes this arises because a graphic artists prefers the colours, size, definition, etc. of one illustration over another, losing sight of the overall aim in the process.

When confronted by a  source language caption that does not match what you can actually see (or immediately deduced), I recommend that the translator propose propose a target language caption describing what can actually be seen (or deduced) in addition to compliance with Mark Nichol's ten tips. The initiative should then be flagged for client review.

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