Ghent Universityゲント大学
期 間
JVTA 担当講師


Prof. Dr. Andreas Niehaus


The Global Universities Subtitling Project will give our students the opportunity to build up expertise and experience in a potential future work field. My hope is that they will also learn more about Japanese culture and exchange their thoughts with students in Japanese studies around the world.

【2/17】講師が思わずうなることも! 英語字幕のポイントを学んでセリフの翻訳に取り組む

Surprises for Teachers and Students Alike in Subtitle Translation Workshop




その後は、各シーンのディテールを検討しながら、セリフの訳を考えていきます。講師たちが思わずうなったのが、家を飛び出した航汰に、里佳子が「ちょっと付き合ってよ」と話しかける場面。“Let's hang out for a bit.”と里佳子のキャラクターにぴったりの訳を出した学生たちは、引き続き、本格的な字幕翻訳に臨みます。
Now entering its third year, the Global Universities Subtitling Project kicked off its 2020 program with students at Ghent University in Belgium working together to translate the 2019 Japanese short film When the Rain Stops (Ame no yamu toki, dir. Yui Yamaguchi).

While all participants were passionate about Japanese culture, there was plenty of variety in their personal favorites. From Studio Ghibli and other anime, to hit TV series like Terrace House and Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories, and even the works of novelists such as Yoshimoto Banana and Natsuo Kirino, the students came to the session with a diverse range of interests in Japanese media.

JVTA instructors began the session with a discussion of a key subtitling point: storytelling. The lecturers reminded students of the importance of narrative structure, as well as understanding how media reflects its social and cultural context. Students joined in with a story exercise identifying the plot points and climax of the film before beginning their translations.

Later, students broke into groups to analyze their assigned scene in detail and brainstorm subtitle approaches. Each group’s interpretation surprised lecturers with their nuance. For example, some students picked up a slightly flirtatious subtext to Rikako’s invitation to protagonist Kouta: “chotto tsukiatte yo!” Their translation of the line as “Let’s hang out for a bit” perfectly captures the film’s focus on the bittersweet awkwardness of adolescence.

【3/17】文化の違いが大きな壁に…! 一筋縄ではいかない字幕に奮闘する学生たち

Getting the Story Over the Language Barrier




For the second session of the GUSP program, students at Ghent University continued their subtitle translations for the 2019 Japanese short film When the Rain Stops (Ame no yamu toki, dir. Yui Yamaguchi). With each of the five groups bringing the works-in-progress of their assigned subtitles, students shared what they found challenging as well as interesting about the translation processes.

The students’ first hurdle was finding language to reflect the characters. With a cast of mostly young teenagers, the students had to carry over the witty expressions of Japanese high schoolers and their abbreviated expressions, and ironic slang like kitakubu - for which the students coined a charming new expression “Anti-social Club.”

Another sticking point concerned what the main characters should call each other. In Japan, it’s common for young people to call each other by their family names even after becoming friends -- as was the case for the two stars of When the Rain Stops. However, students identified this as a cultural difference that needed to be addressed in the subtitles.

If Rikako and Kota weren’t on a first-name basis, would their friendship still come through? Or, for a Western audience, would family names sound too distant and formal for typical middle schoolers? On the other hand, shouldn’t their family name be preserved in the subtitles for authenticity and closeness to the original dialog?

Students engaged in a lively debate on the approaches used by each group. Ultimately, the final product needs to be consistent on character names, so the JVTA instructors took advantage of the online meeting platform to put the question to a vote.

A digital show of hands saw the class decide on using the given names “Rikako” and “Kota” in their subtitles but the discussion revealed the complex decisions that go into every translation choice. Although this short film clocks in at just under 30 minutes, GUSP students are finding it a rich opportunity to read deeply into Japanese culture and media.


GUSP Students Ready to Go Pro

いよいよ最終講では、学生たちがこれまでの講義で学んだ事を生かし、ブラッシュアップした字幕案を提出。前回、訳出が難しいとの声もあった“帰宅部”という言葉をどう訳すか活発に意見交換が行われました。なかには、「Anti-social club」と翻訳したグループも。日本語のニュアンスをくみ取って字幕に反映するという、字幕翻訳に欠かせないポイントを早くもつかんだ様子が伺えました。


この他、ラジオやテレビの音声、電話の相手など、スクリーン上にいない人のセリフは斜体で表示する、2行にわたる字幕のバランスの取り方など、字幕の細かいルールを学びました。 字幕案の中には、日本語の“曖昧さ”まで絶妙に英語で表現した完成度の高い字幕も見受けられ、わずか3回の講義でどんどんと字幕翻訳のコツをつかんでいく生徒たちの成長ぶりには目を見張るものがありました。
In this final GUSP session, students showed off for one last round of feedback. With just a few adjustments, their professional-grade subtitles will officially be ready to screen.

In the previous session, students compared notes on their approaches to some of the trickiest lines of dialog. The class started swapping ideas on how to communicate the charm of the original Japanese, such as translating the teen slang kitaku-bu -- meaning students who don’t join extracurricular activities -- as “Anti-Social Club.” It’s clear that the students have a good grasp of what makes subtitle translation so special: every word counts.

However, it’s not just words that make a difference. Even punctuation can drastically change the nuance of a scene. Working with subtitling software over the film in real-time, the JVTA instructors experimented with different ways of rendering the dialog in a scene where one character called out to another. Should it be Rikako? or Rikako! or Rikako or Rikako… Each option seemed to give a drastically different tone to the scene. To make the right choice, students analyze the “film language” of lighting, costumes, camera angles and the characters’ body language to enrich their interpretations.

Then came the technical side, where the instructors brought the focus on formatting. How can we distinguish between a character speaking out loud and another voice on the radio? What’s the right place to position the subtitles on the screen? When should you use line breaks? All these tiny rules go towards seamless subtitles that the audience can enjoy effortlessly.

In just three sessions, this term’s GUSP students rose to the challenge of communicating the charm and complexity of director Yui Yamaguchi’s short film When the Rain Stops through professional-grade subtitles. We can’t wait to see where these translators take their talent next.