As a wannabe polyglot (whose actual grasp of non-English languages is somewhat shaky), I sometimes watch Crunchroll videos with non-English subtitles. In this post, I’d like to share some…interesting stories of my attempts.

I remember trying to watch Flying Witch with Arabic subtitles. Unfortunately, with my snail-paced reading speed and my practically nonexistent Arabic vocabulary, I ended up mostly listening to the Japanese audio.

For this Fall season, I was keeping up with Yuri on Ice, Hibike! Euphonium, and Flip Flappers on Crunchyroll. I had decided to watch them with French subtitles because that was my third most comfortable language. Unfortunately, when I began watching Flip Flappers I was disappointed to see it had no French subs. This led me to wonder: who determines what languages of subtitles are available for a given show on Crunchyroll? I tweeted this question to Crunchyroll but they didn’t respond, so I’m still in the dark. Oh well.

What I like about the French subs is they are not afraid to use colloquial language, from dropping the ne in negative sentences to using expressions that I had to look up. I’d like to say it helped me expand my French vocabulary, but I am sad to report that I forgot most of what I had looked up.

Unfortunately, I noticed multiple instances where the French subs were different from the Japanese audio or the English and Spanish subs. I’ll give two examples from Hibike! Euphonium. In episode 2, as Niiyama-Sensei introduced to the class, one of the students says “さすが滝先生”[EN: “Good job, Taki-sensei”, ES: “Not bad, Taki-sensei”, FR: “Taki-Sensei has good taste”], to which another responds “ええ?そうなの?” [EN&ES: “What? Really?”, FR: “What? They’re going out?”]. Notice how the French subs cut straight to the subtext. You could chalk this up to the translator taking liberties, which I personally disagree with–the readers can infer the subtext on their own–but I can at least understand that choice. However, I noticed another instance could only have been a mistake. In episode 9, Natsuki tries to recruit Kumiko into the “あすか先輩を連れ戻すぞ”大作戦  [EN: “Operation Bring Back Asuka-Senpai”, ES: “Operation to bring back Asuka-senpai”, FR: “We need to save Asuka the soldier”]. That was just weird to suddenly call Asuka a soldier when a translation like “l’Opération Ramener Asuka-senpai” would’ve sufficed, unless I’m missing a reference to French literature or popular culture.

I’ll be the first to admit that translators have hard jobs, so think of this rant as nothing more than a nitpick. Overall, I’m very happy that Crunchyroll provides us with content in multiple languages, allowing me to watch anime and practice multiple languages at once.

You can read about the 12 Days challenge on the intro post here.

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