The Top 5 Hardest Languages for Subtitling Services

Posted by Gummy Tran on March 03, 2022.

The cost of subtitling services varies depending on a number of factors, including the availability of translators in a given language and the complexity of working with subtitles based on the nuances of different languages, their structures, and syntax.

There are languages that are similar to each other because they stem from a single language, such as Latin. These ones are simple to work with for translators. 

Others, on the other hand, require good subtitling service providers to ensure that the content is conveyed intendedly and in an appropriate manner. The difficulties in subtitling may come from certain grammatical rules, a different script, or a variation in a dialect. 

The following are the five languages that are hardest to the subtitle.

1 – Arabic

Subtitling Services 

When it comes to translating subtitles, Arabic may be a challenging language to deal with. The Arabic language has a large vocabulary, making it difficult to translate. It is one of the languages in which words can have several meanings. The flow of the sentence is from right to left, which adds to its complexity. 

One issue that might occur with Arabic subtitling services is that some company names, jargon, and/or syntax may remain in the original language. While this is not a problem with many languages, it can be difficult with Arabic.

SRT or other format subtitle text may recognize Latin characters and read left to right if characters from Arabic are mixed with characters from other languages. 

As a result, it’s critical to always read every single word when producing Arabic subtitles.


2 – English 


Although the challenge of subtitling in English may appear surprising, there are some very good reasons why English might be a complex language to subtitle or closed-caption. 

When working on English subtitles, there might be a lot of grammatical and technical standards to meet, especially when it comes to closed captions for the deaf and hard of hearing. 

English speech also contains a large number of slang words, fillers, ahs, erms, and other idioms, and subtitlers must make rational, logical decisions on what to include and exclude.

When the source and target languages are the same on a video, any error could stand out a mile, thus it requires an extremely high level of accuracy in creating English subtitles.  


3 – Chinese 

Chinese has a linguistic structure that is quite distinct from that of other languages. When dealing with Chinese subtitles, it’s critical to ensure that as many common terms and phrases as possible are synced, especially those that maintain the original language’s characters and spelling, such as company and individual names. 

The line splits in Chinese subtitles must also be precise. It is not always as simple as in other languages as there is no space between words and characters, and a poor split can entirely transform or render a text illegible.


4 – German subtitling services

When it comes to translating subtitles from English to European languages, the process is typically simple and should go smoothly. This isn’t always the case with German due to the language’s wordiness. The length of a German translation might be up to 30% longer than the original English text. In terms of character and line constraints, this can make subtitle splits difficult. 

Furthermore, German subtitle translations sometimes need summarizing and condensing messages in order to maintain reading speeds that allow viewers to properly absorb the captions onscreen.


5 – Scots Gaelic and Welsh subtitling services

The reason certain languages might be more difficult to deal with has nothing to do with their technicality. On the contrary, finding a good translator to work on the file is the most challenging part of translating subtitles for Scots Gaelic and Welsh. 

Working with rarer languages, like working with some of the world’s less generally spoken languages, might result in higher charges due to the lower number of linguists and subtitlers available with the necessary abilities, certifications, and experience to deliver services.


Work with us

Subtitling is a difficult task, regardless of the languages involved. That’s why it’s important to leave it to the pros.

Subtitling Services 

GTE Media, a branch of GTE Media, has helped hundreds of B2B companies approach a global scale through our localization and subtitling services. Here are some core values that we bring to the table: 

  • An audience-centered approach: We understand that subtitling does not merely mean translating, but also selecting appropriate content for your target viewers. Hence, we study your target audiences closely before working on any project.
  • Best value: With a team of hundreds of experienced talents, we provide high-quality services at a competitive rate.
  • End-to-end services: There is no need to find an intermediary or a second agency. We offer complete subtitling and media localization services from start to finish.
  • Punctuality: Regardless of small or large projects, we consistently meet or go ahead with the deadlines. 

Contact us right now for a free quote and consultation!

If you need more information about our localization services, please check out here.

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