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04th Oct 2021

You could have completely misunderstood Squid Game, all because of a Netflix glitch

Danny Jones

Squid Game's subtitles might be getting lost in translation

A subt(it)le slip-up

Squid Game is almost certainly the biggest TV show on the planet right now, with every man and his dog watching the extra gory The Hunger Games meets Takeshi’s Castle thriller. However amid the viewing frenzy people might literally be losing the plot – both on screen and off.

The hit Netflix series is a Korean language show and while you can watch it with the English dub over the top, it obviously comes with English subtitles so you can preserve the original vocal performance of the actors as they were intended to be seen. The only problem is, the translation might not be absolutely bang-on.

@youngmimayer##squidgame translations are sooo wrong here’s a little example♬ original sound – youngmi

Of course, there are always going to be subtle changes and little nuances that get lost in translation – but according to comedian and podcaster Youngmi Mayer, there are quite a lot of distinctions between how the Netflix subtitles present the dialogue and how it’s actually supposed to read.

The first example Mayer gives is that the ‘English [CC]’ setting (closed captions) reads one line as: “I’m not a genius, but I can work it out”. This is fairly different to what it should actually translate to, which is: “I am very smart – I just never got a chance to study.”

Furthermore, if you change the settings to just ‘English’ in the menu, the translation reads as the more accurate, though still not perfect: “I never bothered to study, but I’m unbelievably smart.”

Squid Game mistranslated subtitles

Mayer goes on to highlight a number of different examples and while they’re not going to deliver utterly Earth-shattering changes to your viewing experience, they do impact various parts of dialogue and can subsequently alter how you perceive certain characters.

As with any foreign language show, non-native speakers want as much clarity as possible – so here’s hoping this is something Netlfix can fix soon.

Regardless, you need to be watching Squid Game – and by this point, you probably know you do too.

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