“salad mice”

I happened on the Youtube channel of a young American couple apparently living and working in South Korea and touring occasionally. The auto-subtitles were on, and one video included the phrase

salad mice 

Because I could see their video and hear them speaking, I knew what they were talking about, but I’ll leave it with you with no context.

Continue reading

get hitched or get ditched

Sydney has a COVID-19 outbreak which is very small by world standards but of increasing concern in a country which has had very few cases and no deaths this year, and very low vaccination rates. My wife and I watched the tv news over dinner. One report was about couples getting married today before the ban on weddings starts at midnight. The reporter said:

racing to get hitched

The autosubtitles said

racing to get ditched

What part don’t you understand?

In August 2015, when I went to Korea for the second time, my working visa was delayed, so I had to do the ‘visa run’ to Fukuoka, Japan. While I was wandering around a suburb of that city, I saw a modern building devoted to the study and performance of traditional Noh theatre.  I thought that their slogan could be “What part of Noh don’t you understand?”. Unfortunately, on searching the internet, I found that Pat Byrnes, a cartoonist for the New Yorker magazine, had beaten me to it. I thought I mentioned this in my blog post of the time, but apparently not. Certainly I mentioned it on Facebook.

The reason I’m mentioning it now is that a few days ago I was watching some of the Crash Course series on the history of theatre, one of which is about Noh. I’ve written before about the variable quality of their autosubtitles — usually perfect, but sometimes, inexplicably, very wrong. Maybe the fault is Youtube’s, not Crash Course’s, but the same principle applies Continue reading

Lost in autosubtitling again

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t know how the autosubtitling of television programs works, but it’s obviously not using basic procedures to check spelling, grammar and collocation.

Last night’s efforts included:

bolsleigh for bobsleigh (spelling).

They’re second Olympics. By itself, there’s nothing to choose between they’re and their (and there). They’re second will pass a grammar check, but They’re second Olympics can only be Their. (grammar)

immortal iced for immortalised. Adjective + V-pp is ungrammatical in English, unless the V-pp is being used as an adjective – our immortal iced coffee. (collocation)

iced hockey and sore monies (ceremonies) (collocation). Both of these are grammatical, but an online search shows exactly zero occurrences of each. There are two occurrences of sore money, both of which are misprints.

There’s obviously a dictionary of some sort. The commentators mentioned someone with a very long French name. After a few moments the correct name came up. On the other hand, the Gangneung Ice Arena was rendered as Quandong (an indigenous Australian fruit).

Sometimes everything and everyone just gives up. At the closing ceremony, children from two local elementary schools, which the commentators named, carried the South Korean flag. The auto-subtitling simply said Children from elementary schools.

I could turn off the auto-subtitling. Or turn off the television, which is very likely now that the winter olympics have finished.

Auto-subtitling of winter olympics broadcasts

The auto-subtitling for the broadcasts of the winter olympic games on Australian television (provided by an independent company) seems to have three approaches to rendering the many different names of competitors from many different countries.

The first is to leave them out completely, which sometimes leaves a gap in the sentence. The second is to take a wild guess at it. Several times. It tried four times to spell the surname of the eventual winner of the men’s luge David Gleirscher before, obviously, a human overrode it, after which it was rendered correctly. The third is obviously when a human has provided the names already, for example Saturday night’s speed skaters Carlijn Achtereekte, Sjinkie Knegt and the unfortunately named Semen Elistratov. (It’s a perfectly good Russian/Ukranian equivalent of Simon. Most sources give his name as Semen, but Wikipedia renders Семён as Semion.)

So obviously there is some level of human programming of some different names from some different countries. The competitor list has been available for days or weeks or months (and these people have been on the competitive circuit for years), so why don’t they use it?

In 2012 Victoria Azarenka won the Australia open tennis championships. During the presentation ceremony, the auto-subtitling referred to her as ‘Victoria as a drinker’. Surely it (or the humans behind it) can do better than that.

(I’d like to make it clear that I don’t fully understand how auto-subtitling of live programs works, and that the humans behind it do a much better job than I would be able to do.)

(added 17 Feb: last night in the women’s aerials, the commentators were saying the names of the Chinese competitors family name first, but the autosubtitling was giving them given name first.)


The Union enema

Crash Course is an excellent series of educational videos on Youtube. The originators and hosts of the first videos are the author John Green (who did the humanities-based series) and his brother Hank (who did the sciency ones). Later series have different hosts and cover a wide range of topics.

I recently discovered the series on mythology, hosted by Mike Rugnetta. I watched what was available, then have watched the last few as they have been posted. The latest video has a problem with the sound quality (one of the rare glitches in an otherwise well-produced series, and which about a quarter of the commenters haven’t commented on), so I turned the subtitles on. They are obviously auto-generated and not checked by a human (at least for this video – the next one I watched, in another series, was perfect). Among other things, there are no capital letters or punctuation. There’s a lot else, but I’ll focus on three. Continue reading

“choose crime huts of supplements”

The chapter in the textbook was about the media, and one activity was a reading about two famous tv interviews, David Frost’s of Richard Nixon and Martin Bashir’s of Princess Diana. I found videos of both on Youtube and played them to the students. The one I found of Princess Diana is bizarre, for reasons unconnected with her. It is subtitled in Japanese, and the autosubtitling in English is way off the mark. (I can make no comment about the quality of the Japanese.) The first question on this video (which picks up in the middle of the interview) is “What effect did the depression have on your marriage?”. Her answer is autosubtitled, “Well again everybody a wonderfully new label this time as unstable and donna’s m bank in balance enforcing that seems to stop on our thirty s”.

Other excerpts are “you have so much pain inside yourself then choose crime huts of supplements” and “I want to get better analgesic enforce and continue my teaching my romance wife mother kansas last”. All within the first minute and a quarter. Ponder a while.

She actually said:

Continue reading