Subtitling or dubbing – the big question of international media content

It is not surprising that multinational companies often use every media format in order to reach their target audience – and using visuals is still among the most effective ways to do so. However, video formats are no longer restricted to TV spots and commercials, they can be used as an introduction to the company, they can serve as training tutorials or as means for internal communication. Still, there are several aspects you have to take into account in relation to whether you would like to have your video subtitled or dubbed for your international audience.

Subtitling might be an easier option in a lot of cases. It is easy to create, quick to translate, and you do not have to have special equipment or technical assistance to create a subtitled video – you just have to have the script of the video time-coded, and you can even do it in a simple Notepad application. Furthermore, file-sharing sites (e.g. YouTube) provide an easy platform to make your content easily accessible both in terms of format and language, while with embedding, you can also enhance your website with this. Finally, subtitles can be optimised for SEO as well. However, there are some disadvantages. On the one hand, there is a limit to how many characters should appear in a segment in order to make it readable, and editing the subtitles might be challenging for languages that use longer words or that agglutinate, and sometimes compromises should be made to convey the overall message of the video. In addition to that, subtitles might distract the viewer from the visual content of the video.

Subtitles can be the perfect solution, for example, for a short introductory video on your website, interviews, or the presentation of a new product. Advertisements are usually dubbed, but there are special cases where subtitling is more appropriate or, at least, used more often – e.g. in the case of perfume ads where often the few and sparsely used buzzwords are part of the aesthetic power of the video.

Adding a voiceover to your visual media is a more complex and more expensive process. This requires technical equipment and staff. The timing of the speech is also key, but in this case it is the rhythm of the spoken language that plays an important role. Still, despite the complicated method, videos with a voiceover can sound more authentic as these can reproduce the cadence and the emphasis of the original speech in the mother tongue of the viewer.

Most of the advertisement spots in the media are dubbed to underline their credibility. However, videos with an important visual content should also be dubbed and not subtitled so that the spectator should not have to divide his/her attention between the visuals and the subtitle. Training videos with animations, charts or other graphical solutions, for example, might benefit from a voiceover, especially if the visuals are simultaneously explained or provide further information that might be lost with subtitles.

In conclusion, there is no definitive answer on whether subtitling or dubbing is the better option. Nonetheless, there are three aspects that you have to take into consideration: your target audience, your technical possibilities, and your budget. For simpler multimedia content, there is no doubt that subtitling provides a straightforward and feasible solution. For more complex video projects, however, it might be reasonable to consult with experts even in the preliminary stages of the project so that the production is streamlined and hassle-free.


Written by Zsolt Beke

More languages, more business

For language skills, demand and supply are equally on the rise. As corporations cross borders by default, they need their leaders to understand new customers and workers and cultures. In a recent Forbes survey, half of the 200 companies admitted they needed at least a quarter of employees knowing another language compared to the current 10%.

A good leader sets the standards in this respect, too. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s ability to speak Mandarin is definitely such an example. Starting out to impress the Chinese family of his now-wife, Priscilla Chan, in only four years he managed to awe a university audience, participating in a talk in Mandarin. Many say this is just another way to improve his reputation in a country he wants to win business-wise. But his respect and commitment to the culture did get some of the 1.3 million native speakers to his side.

The founder of media company Bloomberg, also former Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, tackled the foreign language most important for US businessmen. Although his accent is often made fun of, the fact that he can conduct speeches in Spanish has won him the Hispanic community in politics and helped him to important business opportunities, such as the alliance in Mexico with El Financiero.

Maybe a lesser-known name is that of Joseph Rank who was appointed CEO of the Saudi operations of Lockheed Martin. His example proves how language skills and the openness to other cultures it implies can sky-rocket a career. Rank speaks Arabic, a language of 400 million people, and is expected to nurture strategic partnerships on a market where foreigners rarely speak other than English.

Globalization also means more and more people are raised in multiple languages and are not afraid to move around the world for work. According to US statistics from 2016, there were 12 million bilingual kids representing 22% of the total underage population, and 3% of all American children were foreign-born. Many of those children will have the chance to follow the footsteps of prominent business leaders.

Born in India and have Tamil (of over 70 million speakers) as her mother tongue, Indra Nooyi immediately had a competitive advantage when relocating to the US and accepting a senior role at Pepsico. From 2006-2018 when she held the position of CEO, Pepsico increased its revenues by 80%, and Nooyi herself consistently ranked among the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.

Meanwhile, Jan Koum possesses the seventh most spoken languages of the world, Russian, being born in Ukraine and only immigrated to the US at the age of 16. He made a fortune by funding WhatsApp, a global product translated to many languages, and then selling it to Facebook for in 2014. Koum still speaks fluent Russian and claimed in a 2016 interview that Russia was their most important market with 25 million monthly active users out of the 900 million total.

So if you are lucky enough to have English as your first language, you might reconsider if speaking multiple languages is just a nice-to-have. And, if you come from a different background, it’s time you realized the huge business advantages of your multilingualism.


Written by Anikó Jóri-Molnár

Translation and layouting in one package

As an international translation agency, we assist our clients from all around the world with their projects. We take part in projects promoting cultural events, supporting human rights activist foundations, advertising assistance with health issues, and the list goes on. One could think that we only do translation and editing. But our work goes far beyond that and this is what makes it interesting and exciting.

One of the additional services we provide is completing the typesetting of the translated documents. With this, our clients receive not only a translated text but ready-to-print files as well. Usually we do typesetting on books, leaflets, sales brochures, labels, posters and many other kinds of documents. Working on the layout design of these documents is itself interesting, but what happens if we add 23 languages to the project? How can we, as an agency, facilitate our clients’ projects?

We can divide these projects into two parts. First, we complete the translation and editing of the text into the requested languages. If we have a multilingual project, for example into 23 languages, the project manager must coordinate 46 linguists working on the project. Strict time management and precise knowledge of every little detail are very important for carrying out such huge projects.

Once the translation and the quality check are ready, we send the translation to our client in a bilingual two-column RTF file. We always ask for our client’s approval of the translation before proceeding with the typesetting. Why is this useful? Actually, we can save time and money for the client. It is more comfortable to compare the source and target text seeing them next to each other without the layout. It’s also easier and faster to correct the translations in the text files than in the layout files after the typesetting is completed.

After the client has approved the translations, our DTP specialists carry out the typesetting and what the client receives is the final ready-to-print file. One of the biggest advantages of this additional service is that the client doesn’t need to be in touch with a translation agency plus a graphic designer. We can carry out the whole process coordinated by one contact person assigned to the client.

Written by Zsanett Kórik, Project Manager at Eurideas Language Experts