‘An Introduction to Subtitling’ Workshop at Leeds University. Raquel Madrid writes;

On one of the first warm and sunny days of the year, a dedicated group of YTI members and students headed to a computer suite at the University of Leeds to learn all about the mysterious art of subtitling. Given the discussions that took place before the training started, it seems I wasn’t the only translator who made a regular habit of picking holes in the subtitles on my foreign language shows and films of choice.  What I learned on this very informative course would give me a whole new perspective on the issue however, and a very healthy respect for the professionals who toil over this tricky task. Read on to find out why.

Leading the workshop was Alina Secara, Director of Translation Studies at the University of Leeds, very ably assisted by Faustine Roux, a professional subtitler. After introducing themselves and giving us a rundown of their respective (extensive) experience in the subtitling industry, Alina proceeded to dive straight in with an in-depth explanation of the different types of subtitling a professional subtitler might encounter. The first type is intralingual pre-recorded subtitles, which are produced for the benefit of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community and for the purposes of language learning. As well as subtitling the words of the speakers, this kind of subtitling also provides a description of sounds and accents and non-verbal information. The interesting example of action films was discussed, where there is little dialogue to subtitle but instead the challenge of a huge number of sound effects to convey through the medium of text! In addition, Alina and Faustine discussed intralingual live subtitles, also intended for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community and used for the news and live events, and finally interlingual subtitles, the kind that we linguists are most used to seeing. The main challenges entailed in all three types of subtitles included a lack of time and space for the subtitle, meaning that the translation must by necessity be condensed, constraints related to the time it takes the viewer to comfortably read the subtitle and how best to deal with line breaks.

Next we were taken through the main concepts of subtitling, including reading speeds, timecodes, scene and shot changes and templates – all highly technical – and the challenges that these all pose. Challenges such as having to fit the subtitles around shots and camera angles, prioritizing certain aspects, unfinished sentences and deciding how to deal with swear words. And then once you have juggled all these constraints, you still have to make sure you can fit it all on the screen in a readable format, deciding how best to split the text between two lines. It is unsurprising in the light of all this that the end result is very different to what a translator might produce when given the written script and no word limit. After all, the purpose of subtitling is very different.

Bursting with enthusiasm, we were later given the chance to get some practical experience with WinCAPS, the subtitling software that Alina teaches at the University of Leeds. She was at pains to make clear however that it is just one of the many on the market, and that it is up to the individual subtitler to discover which software suits them best. An English-language video from Médecins Sans Frontières was provided for us to practice on, along with comprehensive instructions and plentiful assistance from the two experts. It was such an absorbing task that most attendees even worked through the final afternoon coffee break – something unheard of when a group of translators and interpreters get together!

I am certain that everyone found the workshop as informative and interesting as I did, and I would like to express my gratitude to Alina and Faustine for running such an excellent event, and to Raquel for organising. I came away with an enormous amount of respect for the work that subtitlers do, and a real appreciation of the challenges they face. Never again will I criticise professional subtitles in so offhand a manner!

Wine Tasting in Harrogate. Francesca Gatenby writes

The setting: a bustling Italian restaurant decked with large, atmospheric artwork prints and a penchant for purple. The wines: an eclectic mix of flavours and strengths. The menu: full-flavoured and filling. The company: of the best sort.

Our evening of Italian wine tasting at Sasso Enoteca Italiano in central Harrogate was a convivial and popular one. The sommelier began by pouring us all a measure of NV Prosecco Brut, an International Wine Challenge bronze medal winner, and, aware that he was addressing a group of professional translators, proceeded to apologise for his attempt at Italian pronunciation. Very light on the taste buds, this wine had a “fresh green apple nose” and served as a gentle introduction, prompting the conversation to flow with alacrity.

The Due Uve Bianco Pinot Grigio-Sauvignon IGT – as per its name a blend of two grape varieties – and the Pecorino Pasetti followed next, paired with a starter of smoked salmon terrine, marinated beetroot and horseradish crème fraîche – or asparagus with poached egg for the vegetarians. Both whites proved popular when it came to selecting a full glass to accompany the main course (pollo con salsa di funghi, zafferano e spinaci – chicken breast in a wild mushroom and saffron sauce with spinach). Lo Sbrancato Rose Il Poggione, my personal favourite from the tasting, was a fresh-flavoured rosé that also contrasted well with the richness of the main. The rosé was followed by the only red on the tasting list – Syrah Mandrarossa – with its delicious and, according to the enthusiastic menu writer, “heady perfume of hedgerow fruit and peppery spice”. Definitely a wine to sit and ruminate with.

We all enjoyed comparing the different wines and discussing their finer points over the course of the evening, whatever our level of knowledge of oenology. Some finished with dessert while others enjoyed sipping their wine; and those of us who needed to catch trains reluctantly did so.

Another interesting and enjoyable social – thank you to Charlotte for organising!

Tango Moderno at Leeds Grand. Josie Worrall writes;

YTI’s April outing to watch Tango Moderno at Leeds Grand was an entirely exclusive affair. And by exclusive, I mean we were few in number. We made up for our limited numbers however with unbounded enthusiasm for a Tuesday-night tipple in the fabulous theatre bar beforehand, and of course for the spectacle of dance, music and song that awaited us.

The stars of the show were the erstwhile Strictly Come Dancing favourites, Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace, although it also featured a pair of excellent West End singers, and a troupe of very talented contemporary dancers. Billed as a ‘tango for today’, the show featured the troupe telling modern tales (including Tinder romances, millennials glued to smartphones and a strange suburban scene featuring some outdated gender stereotypes) through the medium of contemporary dance, with some tango moves thrown in for good luck. They were watched over by their fairy godparents – enter Vincent and Flavia – magically matchmaking through the power of traditional tango. The compere, the male singer, introduced the various tales through poetry, also singing a diverse mix of chart hits and power ballads alongside his female counterpart.

While entertaining, for me the overall effect of these different elements was rather eclectic. The show’s interpretation of the issues of modern life also felt rather reductive. The highlights of the evening were undoubtedly the moments when Vincent and Flavia took to the stage alone to perform the passionate, dramatic tango that viewers love them for. Considering the rapturous applause with which each of the pair’s appearances was met, it seemed as if the audience would have liked a little more sophisticated tango, and a little less modern interpretation!

Uncle Vanya at the York Theatre Royal. Oliver Richmond writes;

On 10th March a handful of fellow YTI members attended a performance of Anton Chekhov’s poignant comedy ‘Uncle Vanya’ at York Theatre Royal.

‘Uncle Vanya’ is in essence a comedy tainted by an underlying sense of tragedy. Uncle Vanya himself for example is a forlorn character, ridden with guilt over his own failures in life. But so too are the other characters, frequently enveloped by a sense of acute ennui and exhaustion.

I have never actually seen a Russian play before but I was pleasantly surprised. The acting was brilliant and I think I can speak for everyone when I say that we were all enthralled by the plot.

YTI February Social – Bring & Share event. Birgit Obermueller writes;

On Sunday 11 February 2018 we gathered again at Jacob’s Well in York for this month’s social: a bring and share afternoon tea – well cake fest. We sampled sweet and savoury treats from around Yorkshire and Europe. There were Yorkshire Fat Rascals, Yorkshire Bark, cinnamon & ginger fruit loaf, French madeleines, North Italian muffins, German ‘Marmorkuchen’ (marble cake), honey cake, carrot cake, olive buns, salmon & cream cheese sandwiches, cucumber & cashew butter sandwiches, Roquefort cheese, chorizo sausage and a selection of fresh fruit.

We were able to introduce a few new and prospective YTI members to this sweet tradition, which is in its third year running now. It was a very enjoyable afternoon with lots chatting, networking, exchanging and passing on experience as well as cake eating of course. I am are already looking forward to next year’s YTI bake off!