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It should matter that Squid Game's English closed-caption subtitles aren't accurate

  • TikTok user Youngmi Mayer drew some backlash for calling out how inaccurate the English closed-caption subtitles are, with many pointing out that the regular English subtitles are actually pretty accurate. "But does it make much difference?" says Jeva Lange. "If the English dub botches the translation, visually impaired fans miss out on the nuances of the script. Or what about the 36 million deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers in America, whose Netflix accounts might be set to play the English CC version by default? These might seem like edge cases, but any conversation about subtitles on Netflix has to include accessibility advocates, who've been sounding the alarm about the streamer's sloppy captions for years. In 2012, Netflix finally agreed to put captions on 100 percent of its library after being sued by the National Association for the Deaf (NAD) for noncompliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Horrible subtitles are also a familiar problem for fans of foreign language films and anime — in fact, some fandoms crowdsource amateur subtitles for untranslated or badly translated shows. But this shouldn't be an issue with Netflix, which has made its growing international catalog and presence a point of pride: Only 35 percent of Netflix customers live in the U.S. or Canada, and only 55 percent of its content is in English. Including 61 other languages in the Netflix archives has required a robust translation effort, and Netflix claims the words at the bottom of a viewers' screen are 'no longer secondary assets in a world where content knows no physical borders.' If only that were true. Squid Game is far from the only Netflix show with dubious subtitling. Fans have found numerous errors in Netflix's script for Neon Genesis Evangelion, ranging from things like changing a more literal 'I'm so f--ked up' to 'I'm the lowest of the low' to 'queer erasing' a character by crucially changing the word 'love' to 'like.'" Still, as Salon's Kylie Cheng points out, the regular English subtitles are "also ultimately lacking the full magic and breadth of the Korean dialogue," noting that this is another example "of Korean popular culture and deeper meanings being lost in the English translation."


    TOPICS: Squid Game, Netflix, Hoyeon, Hwang Dong-hyuk, Subtitles