The American Translators Association (ATA) has shared an open letter in response to recent statements in the press and on social media about a shortage of professional translators and subtitlers. The letter is a call for fair working conditions for translators in the entertainment industry.
“There is no shortage, but instead a disconnect between the value of this skilled work and the pay offered, leading to a perceived lack of qualified professionals available for these jobs and subpar subtitles in the world’s most popular titles in film and TV. Current practices within the entertainment industry devalue subtitlers’ work, discourage truly qualified professionals from accepting these jobs, and impede international viewers’ enjoyment of these titles,” ATA President Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo stated in the letter.
“On behalf of the American Translators Association, the largest association of professional interpreters and translators in the world, I urge film and television production studios and the language service providers they contract with to refocus on a quality subtitling process, which starts with hiring professional subtitlers at professional rates rather than unskilled multilingual labor at pay that can work out to well below minimum wage.”
ATA President Sánchez Zampaulo also noted that claims that there is a shortage of professional translators and subtitlers is simply untrue. “ATA’s own thriving Audiovisual Division, which brings together highly trained professionals who are ready and able to work, is evidence to the contrary.”
“The veritable explosion of international entertainment options is a positive development and producing high-quality subtitles is in the best interest of studios, streaming platforms, and viewers. The professionals who work painstakingly to craft the multilingual versions of our favorite movies and shows should be able to share in the revenue generated thanks to their work.”
Examples of recent discussions in the press and social media:
— François-Xavier Durandy (@fxdurandy) November 6, 2021
A recent viral tweet thread alleging flaws in Squid Game’s English subtitles highlights a growing concern for streaming services: there’s a huge global demand for international content, but a limited supply of translators https://t.co/hHHj22Qhm6
— Rest of World (@restofworld) November 14, 2021
Where have all the translators gone? The global audience for foreign-language streaming shows has never been larger. But subtitlers are leaving the industry in droves #xl8 #1nt | The Guardian: https://t.co/HyCftBYlI1
— Am Translators Assn (@atanet) November 15, 2021
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