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Joker – Translations within the film


You can’t go anywhere at the moment without seeing publicity or hearing comments about the film ‘Joker’. It is a great piece of work, but it does seem that it is not to everyone’s taste. That’s not a criticism of the product, but simply we do not all like the same things. I, for instance, do not enjoy horror films.

So where do translations come into the story? You might be thinking of foreign language dubbing and subtitles. That’s a possible topic, but in an extreme step towards an international audience the production team went further.

In the scenes where we see the Jokers notebook, the film showed the book in the language of the audio. If you saw the film in Italian, you saw his notebook in Italian, rather than the Italian translation being a subtitle.

This additional level of care shows that more effort was made for each target audience, but it also makes the film more difficult for pirate.

Translation of the Joker’s notebook also serves to highlight some important parts of translation that are often forgotten:

1) A translation should be true to the original – mistakes in the source text are often found during theĀ  translation process, but these should not always be corrected in the translation. It is very much down to context.

You would correct in a brochure translation, but also inform the client so they can ensure the source document is also corrected. However, the writings of the Joker are to reveal his character and so errors might be important. This can also be a factor in legal translations.

2) Consider the audience / purpose of the document – Maybe the Joker used a colloquial phrase that does not translate well or a colloquial phrase exists which would do a better job?

3) Space, font size and reading speed – The filmmaker wants us to be able to read what’s on that page. Reducing the font to make a translation fit would therefore be an error. we also need to be able to read it within the time allowed. Better to have less text in such a case.


Finally, this film shows again how translation is a part of pretty much everything.



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This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 8th, 2019 at 3:32 pm and is filed under Language Translation, Legal Translation. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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