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What is Fansubbing?

The word fansubbing is a portmanteau of the words fan and sub that are the abbreviations of fan(atics) and sub(title) or sub(titling). With the surge in Japanese anime films, anime fans have begun voluntarily providing subtitling services on specific websites and tv programs. These services are called fansubbing. The fansub movement is believed to have emerged in America after anime fans began producing subtitles on video home systems (VHS) in the 1980s. These subtitles spread worldwide and became increasingly popular as university students and anime clubs shared them. One of the reasons behind this popularity was that local distribution and marketing companies were using dubbing and voice-overs for Japanese anime series. In addition, studies revealed that these companies were editing and censoring some parts of the anime, effectively removing essential elements. Therefore, fans resorted to fansubbing to experience the same aspects in their cultures and worlds as they would with the original product.

Nowadays, with the development of information technologies and globalization, its popularity has been rising. More importantly, thanks to the Internet that provides us with a world without borders, anime fans have created their own worlds through communicating with each other on varied platforms. They brought anime pop culture to the forefront. But what about the perception of “fansubbing” in the translation world? What are the reactions of translators to this specific term created by the prosumers? Let’s talk about it.

Fansubbing and the Translation World

While analyzing the term “fansubbing” within the scope of translation, we want to mention this: Rather than looking at “fansubbing” from an academic perspective, our thoughts on this specific topic will mainly be based on observations and experiences. Having emerged in America in the 1980s, fansubbing has undoubtedly had a different journey in Turkey. In fansubbing, we come across situations like the translator’s notes and meanings of cultural terms put on the video as a subtitle, which is normally used in theatre or opera. Also, you may encounter some untranslated parts on these videos. Moreover, in fansubbing, prosumers prefer to appeal to the localization or to put a bit of humor into the show, but they sometimes overdo it, and the meaning gets lost, or the joke becomes exaggerated. Obviously, the fansub movement has introduced anime across the globe through subtitling; however, for us and for the translation world, we need more clear-cut activities. Imagine what would happen if every anime fan did subtitling? Fansubbing helped translation progress in the 1980s, but in today’s digital world, while we are trying to avoid ambiguity, this rampant proliferation makes our work in the translation sector difficult.

Fansubbing and Expertise in Translation

Every person may describe and give a different definition when you ask them the meaning of the act of translation. Even when you address this question to a translator, you are likely to get varied answers every time. Also, the matter of expertise in translation has similarities to this question too. However, translation done in the light of science and taking into account the causes, results, strategies, plans, and theories results in a unique outcome. You can consider this for any job. Blurred lines have sprung up in the translation world, too, like everything around us in our age. Think about the varied fields, different text types, dissimilar cultures, terms that even the author cannot explain. As translators, we are dealing with countless complexities. Translation is a difficult process. The profession requires expertise, patience, research, and experience. We have mentioned “expertise in translation” in our writings more than once; we have written about it, analyzed it, and discussed it. So, now it is your job to interpret the term “fansubbing” in your own world, have fun!

What is Fansubbing?

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