February 23, 2023
Rianne van Eldik, Iyuno’s Team Lead in The Netherlands, on subtitling series for major streaming platforms and sometimes feeling ‘like a spy.’
Rianne van Eldik subtitles and translates television shows from English to Dutch. This past year she was promoted to Team Lead at Iyuno, the media and entertainment industry’s leading localization provider.
As Team Lead for Iyuno’s Subtitling in The Netherlands, Rianne spoke with &C, a popular Dutch magazine, and said “After finishing my Master's degree in Translation, I got an internship at Iyuno, a translation company specialising in subtitling and dubbing for media content. They service both major streaming services and local TV channels. It was a whole new world for me. A 40-minute episode of your favourite show? That takes more than a full day’s work to translate.
Subtitling media content is a complex process. It really takes a lot of skill, which is something few people realise. Think about it, though: as a translator you must determine what the core message of the text is. The timing must be right as well. You determine when the subtitle becomes visible, and you need to consider the reading speed of your target audience. At the same time, you can only use a limited number of characters, and the English language is typically more concise than Dutch.
It is essential that the translator really understands the context of a word; the type of language used. For instance, I created the subtitles for The L Word, a drama series about a group of gay women in Los Angeles. As a translator, you want to use modern and inclusive language and you need to make sure the spoken text comes across correctly. If a character says ‘dyke’ in the source language – a term that can be hurtful for gay women – you can’t translate that with a neutral term for ‘lesbian’. You need to use a word that has a similar connotation.
Quick-fire comedies pose a different challenge because they often contain tricky wordplay and culturally embedded jokes. I always aim for a translation that’s close to the original. It needs to be funny as well because a lot of shows have a laugh track to mark the jokes. On top of that, the viewers can hear the original joke in the source language. That makes it more complicated, but it makes it more fun as well!
Subtitling is all about tailor made solutions and it often requires a lot of research. A while ago I was translating For Life, which follows the story of a person who’s been wrongfully convicted. It contains substantial legal jargon, and it's imperative that every detail is correct.
Naturally, I’m bound to professional confidentiality. I’m not allowed to talk about shows that haven’t been released yet.
When I watch a show, I’m two different people, really: I’m both a subtitler and a regular consumer. I especially enjoy translating documentaries – I loved the BBC’s Earth From Above – because I learn a lot from those as well. There are productions I feel less affinity with, but I always enjoy the process.
It really is a dream job, but it does mean that watching a show with me may not always be the most fun! I’ve been known to rewind scenes several times just to check out what the translator has come up with. We always say a good subtitle is a subtitle no-one notices.”
Iyuno (www.iyuno.com) is the media and entertainment industry’s leading localization service provider. As a trusted global partner to the world’s most recognized entertainment studios, streaming platforms and creators, it offers end-to-end localization services – from dubbing, subtitling and access services to media management, transformation and distribution services – in over 100 languages for every type of content distribution platform. The company's 75-year collective legacy is unmatched in operational expertise, scale, capacity and breadth of services. Leveraging the best in breed creative and technical talent, state-of-the-art facilities and next generation technologies, the company now boasts the largest global footprint with 67 offices in 34 countries. The company’s scale and customer-centric approach is focused on its mission of connecting content, connecting people. For more information, follow @IyunoHQ and #WeAreIyuno across social platforms.