Agency Squint/Opera commissioned our Languages team to proofread the 142,000 words that would become the subtitles for several hours of testimonies from Holocaust survivors for the new Holocaust Galleries at the Imperial War Museum London. Usually, a proofreader’s role is to tidy up a text, making sure each piece of vocabulary, grammar and punctuation is perfect. This project required a different approach to preserve meaning and accuracy on a more poignant level.
The client felt that the original interview scripts and transcripts provided alongside the video recordings came across as too smooth. For the video subtitles to maximise accessibility for those reading rather than listening, they would need to have an authentic tone of voice. Although the interviewees spoke English, it was not their first language, so they would sometimes intersperse their responses with words or phrases in Yiddish, German, Hebrew or Polish. To over-correct their speech in written form took away the natural qualities of how the speakers expressed themselves. Deleting verbal stumbles removed the emotional message of how the speakers felt when they were conveying memories and experiences. Our proofreader needed to be mindful of which idiosyncrasies to preserve and which to clarify.
Thanks to an extensive network of highly vetted multilingual talent, our transcreation account managers were able to select a proofreader with specialist skills and familiarity with the subject matter. This enabled us to provide our client with more naturalistic subtitles that stayed true to the interviewees’ dialogue. Moreover, our specialist could help us impart further knowledge and allow the audience to gain a deeper understanding through additional contextual information. When an interviewee mentioned a geographic location, our proofreader was able to advise if the location went by other names or was located in different national boundaries since the end of World War II.
It was an honour to be selected to help our clients educate and inform visitors about the powerful messages of Holocaust survivors and ensure the meaning of their words is preserved for generations.
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(Photo © IWM)