Rant|Being A Fan-Subber/Translator

Rant|Being A Fan-Subber/Translator

Hey BAYOG Fam! So in my [previous post], we talked about why I generally prefer fan-subs over official subs. In this post, I want to talk more about the subbers/translators. It’s pretty common for people to literally demand fan translators/subbers to release translations/subs ASAP. Sometimes, people can be quite rude. However, translating is not always an easy thing to do. Sometimes there’s actually alot more work to it than you know. So I also want to discuss more about the actual translating process. Perhaps it’s something you’re not familiar with, or perhaps it’s some food for thought. I just thought it’d be a fun discussion and help people realize the work and effort it takes to translate. Overall, I hope it helps you appreciate the translators a bit more and be more understanding of them. Again, I’m speaking with my experience as a Thai-English translator and drama subber. However, the same ideas and opinions apply to all types of translators, translations, and media. It’s a long post. However, it demonstrates my point: there is alot that goes into translating.

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This legit how I look when I’m subbing

So again, if you didn’t know, I am a [fan subber]. Being a fan-subber means that I’ve volunteered time and effort to translate and make subtitles. I don’t do it professionally. I only do it as a fan, and as someone who is bilingual/multilingual. If you didn’t know, I speak and understand standard Thai due to my family being from Thailand. Despite being born, raised, and having lived in the States my whole life, I’m pretty fluent. Although I do struggle a bit with certain vocabulary. I can’t write it either, and I’m not the best at reading it since I’m self-taught on that aspect. I also know a bit of Isaan (Northeastern Thai), due to my paternal grandpa and my stepdad’s sides being from that region of Thailand. It’s almost identical to Lao too, so in a way I also know some Lao. I grew up in South Florida and I used to be fluent in Spanish as well. I also took Mandarin and Japanese courses in university. Although, I didn’t really retain anything. However, I did pick up on a basic amount of Mandarin, Japanese, and Korean due to alot of exposure and interest in media from China, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea. So I have varying degrees of fluency and/or knowledge of several languages.


I actually only sub occasionally because I don’t have much time to dedicate to subbing. Adulting is hard, bruh. I mostly subbed lakorns, or Thai dramas, on Viki. Lakorn literally just means “drama” or “play”. I started several years ago to kill time. I was going through stuff, and subtitling was pretty fun. I also just thought of it as practice for my Thai-English comprehension and fluency skills. Viki is cool because it is a legal streaming site, and it’s basically run by the community. Viki volunteers form the subtitling teams, manage the channels, do the segments (breaking up the lines into parts for the subs), and the translating/subbing. In exchange for our work, Viki gives us the Viki Pass Plus for free. That means we don’t have to sit through ads, we get access to exclusive content, some other perks, and we also get gifts each year too. In the past, I got mailed a Viki t-shirt, tote bag, and some other little things. Of course, to get/keep these perks, you do need to do at least 500 subtitling/segmenting contributions every 6 months. So being a Qualified Contributor (QC) can be alot of work, but I think it’s worth it. At the very least, it’s saved me at least like $100 a year.

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From My Name Is Busaba, a Thai remake of the K-Drama classic My Name Is Kim Sam Soon

Projects I’ve spent the most time contributing to:

With Viki this is basically the process to make your subs happen:

  • Channel managers are notified of when there’s an upcoming series taht’s been licensed.
  • Channel mangers reach out to volunteers to fill out different roles for the team in charge of the series.
  • Viki uploads the video.
  • Segmenters do the segmenting. This means that they do the time stamps for the segments of dialogue.
  • Translators/subbers/editors write and edit the translation/subs on the segments. They’ll also do formatting for text if it needs to be italicized or whatever. They’ll also put translator notes if needed.
  • The language moderator/chief editor will go over the subs to fix any formatting, grammar, etc.
  • Once the English subs are completed, the episode will be open for other language teams to begin subbing in their respective languages.

In the past, I just contributed a little bit here and there to random series. The project I worked on most would’ve been Opas The Series. I worked on it slowly for a couple years because I think the rest of the team ended up abandoning the project. So in the end I basically ended up doing the translations and segmenting by myself. I personally couldn’t sub as much, so I also would just come back once in a while to continue working on it. Unfortunately, Viki revamped and focused more on Korean and Chinese titles, as well as a couple Japanese titles. So they got rid of alot of the Thai series, including Opas The Series. It’s been almost a year since they got rid of Thai series, because I didn’t have anything to contribute anymore. Although I did contribute a bit here and there on 2 Chinese series. It was a partnership of my poor basic ass Chinese skills (I took Chinese for a year and retained nothing), as well as the help of my Chinese friend from K-Drama Circle.

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However, Viki recently picked up Thai Lakorn series again. I was surprised to get a DM asking to join the English team for My Name Is Busaba/ฉันชื่อบุษบา. It’s the Thai adaptation of the classic K-Drama, [My Name is Kim Sam Soon] (Ayyyy Hyun Bin and Daniel Henney). So I’ve been working on that for the past month or so. About a week or two ago, I received another DM from a different channel manager. She asked me to join on as the Translation Editor for the Thai BL series, Love By Chance (Season 1)/บังเอิญรัก. To be honest, I’m not into BL. However, I like helping. Also, I felt like my Thai had regressed a bit since I’m always switching back and forth in English at home. I’ve relied on more English than Thai. Sometimes I just mix Thai and English together. So I wanted to do another project to actively “work out” my Thai skills. So I signed on to help.

It should be translated along the lines of, “I miss you from every part of my heart.”

This one was a bit easier since Viki released it with English subs already. However, they didn’t trust the accuracy of the subs. Which is why they wanted me to check for them. So I was able to work faster on this than my previous projects. I was also asked to join and do the same thing for Season 2 as well. It was a good thing too. Like I said before, I prefer fan-subs because official subs can be super inaccurate at times. There were several times that the subs were actually the opposite of what was actually said too. Often times, the subs were way off base of what was originally said. It would totally change the vibe of the dialogue, scenes, and context too.

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Look, translating is not easy. Even if you are fluent in more than language. Everyone has a different style and understanding when it comes to translating something too. My personal approach to translating something is to try to be as close to the original/intended meaning as possible. This is my approach when I translate anything. It’s also how to do write [my English lyrics] for my [English covers of Thai songs]. I want it to be as close as possible in order to have the same meaning and vibe. With my lyrics I think I’m at least about 90-95% accurate to the original. I think I probably take more time to think about the “perfect” way to translate something than most other people. For me I want to try to keep the nuances. I want to keep the same vibes. So I usually try to go what’s closest to the literal translation or the exact context. I’ll sit there for a long time playing with wording in my head to get it right. People might not really think of it, but there could be multiple translations for things. The same ideas can be said in different ways. However, translating isn’t just about the meaning, but there’s also context as well as the vibes/feelings. For a simple/easy example: “I’m hungry”, “I’m starving”, “I’m famished”. They have the same meaning. However, they can have a different vibe or nuance. “I’m hungry” can just mean you want to eat, but maybe you just want to eat a little bit. “I’m starving” comes off as being really hungry. “I’m famished” can come off as how someone kind of snooty would say that they’re hungry. This is the kind of thing I keep in mind when I’m thinking of translations. It’s also because with Viki, other language subbers are translating the series into their language based on my translation. So it’s inevitable that it’s going to end up like a game of telephone. Things might end up changing around a bit. So that’s why I prefer to keep it as close to the original meaning and context as possible. One thing that’s difficult about translating is that there are certain things in one language that may not particularly exist in another. There are some things that can make a sentence alot more vague than English. Yet, often times there are alot more specific things that just don’t really exist or is just not really used in English. Languages like Thai, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, etc. always use different, and sometimes very specific, honorifics. These may seem insignificant. Often times, official subs will leave them just translated simply as you, he, she, me, I, etc. However, they play a role in denoting the kind of relationships between people, as well as their closeness. Sometimes it gives a nuance on their personality as well.

Some Examples


  • Oppa: Older brother or male acquaintance/friend)
  • Unnie: Older sister or female friend/acquaintance
  • Dongsaeng: Younger sibling or sibling-like friend)
  • Thai
  • P’: An older sibling, or anyone older than you
  • Nong: A younger sibling, or anyone younger than you.
  • Pa’: An aunt from your mom’s side, and who is older than your mom. It could also just be any woman old enough to be your aunt.
  • Na’: Aunt or Uncle that is typically younger than your parents.
  • Yai: Maternal grandma. Can also be used for any woman old enough to be your grandma.
  • Ya’: Paternal grandma. Can also be used for any woman old enough to be your grandma.
  • Ai’ (Name): It’s a super casual way to address someone like a close friend. It can denote that there’s a closeness. At the same time it’s also used in a rude and derogatory way to address someone. Closest equivalency would be like calling someone “Fuckin’ (name)” or something.
  • Meung: A very casual/informal version of “you”. It can come off as you’re very casual and close to someone. However, it can also come off as an insult, as if you’re cursing and looking down on someone.

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There is also formal and informal language and even words that isn’t necessarily the same in English. With Thai, there’s formal and informal language. There are also what my family refers to as “proper/polite”, “casual”, and “improper” (rude, or inappropriate) kind of words/language. We also have words/particles like krap/ka that are used at the end of sentences to make it more polite/formal. There’s also some nuance to it as “krap” is used by males, and “ka” is used by females. Particles like “na”, “a”, “wa”, etc. also don’t exist or have any actual translation in English. Rather, they’re more based on nuance. Like for “na” the usage is similar to when you say, “ok?”, “alright?”, or even “please?” at the end of a sentence. “Wa” makes a sentence sound more informal/casual. It can show that the speaker is close to the listener since they can speak so casually. However, “wa” also comes off as making a sentence sound kind of “rude” or “insulting” at times. So there are times you can translate it, but it depends on context. So I also keep these things in mind for my translations. I have to think of the usage of very casual language, formal language, or poetic kind of language. I try to translate sentences to keep the same kind of context and nuances. Like I said before, it may seem subtle. Others may find it unimportant. However, I believe it gives you a bit more detail on a character’s personality and relationship with others. That helps build the viewers’ impression of the character and situations as well.

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There is one thing that is incredibly hard for me to translate though: curse words and insults. There are phrases that just don’t really make sense or have an equivalency in English. For example, Thai people will often say “your dad”, “your mom”, “your grandpa”, etc. to things in a slightly similar fashion to English’s “your mom” is used. However, it’s slightly different because it’s not always quite used like in English’s “Your mom is so fat” kind of insults. It could be like “Why are you in such a rush? Are you in a rush to meet your dad??” However, see that just doesn’t really make sense or have the same vibe in English. Curse words and insults don’t sometimes have a similar equivalency to English ones. For example, in Thai we often use “Kwai”, or “water buffalo”, to insult someone as being dumb, foolish, and/or useless. It’s very similar to English’s “dumbass”. However, we have curse words like “Hia”, or “water monitor lizard” (one of the words for it anyway). I wouldn’t really know what equivalent it has. So I end up debating if I’m going to translate it as “ass”, “asshole”, “motherfucker”, or “bastard”. There are other words like “mang”, which I also don’t know how to translate. So depending on the context/situation, I cycle through “damn”, “fucking”, and “shit”. Puns and word play are other things that can be difficult to translate. Often times, those need to be translated literally. Yet, at times it still doesn’t quite make sense in English. These are the kind of situations where the translation isn’t obvious or clear cut. So you have to just figure it out on your own.

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It can be overwhelming to translate and think in several languages

I take a lot of time, thought, and care into wording my translations. However, I do struggle with thinking of these translations. I am pretty fluent in Thai despite being a born and raised abroad Thai. However, I do struggle with formal and official language like what’s often used in the news and formal occasions. Don’t even get me started with royal language and terms, or like ancient kind of Thai langauge in historical dramas. I can’t with those. I once had to translate like the Thai equivalent of old English. Y’all. I struggled alot. I also didn’t really know alot of other Thai speakers, especially of my generation. So I’m not familiar with slang. My Thai is more like that of the older generation (ie my parents’ and grandparents’). There is a difference in pronunciation too. The current and younger generation don’t really enunciate or properly pronounce alot of things nowadays. So there are often times where I sometimes don’t really understand what’s being said. Often times I’ll sit there and replay the one line a dozen times for a few minutes to see if I can hear it better or figure it out. Also, Thai is a tonal language. We have many words that pronounced very similarly. However, they differ in the tone. So a different tone can lead to a whole different meaning. So I also have to sit there and make sure I’m hearing things correctly.

Still I put in alot of effort to try to figure out the best translation. I’ll have my dictionary open in one window for if I don’t know a word, or if I’m trying to think of the different and best possible way to translate something. After all, a lot of words will have different meanings depending on the context. I’ll also have Google Translate open on my phone and use the speech to text function if I can’t find it in my Thai2English dictionary/program. Sometimes I’ll sit there and draw out Thai text on Google Translate if I can’t read certain words. Because I’m weird and can only read Thai in the most basic ass font. Handwritten Thai throws me off. When those don’t seem to help me, I’ll end up sending a Line app message to my youngest aunt in Thailand to ask her to explain something to me.

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One of the reasons why I don’t like Thai dramas and won’t sub them often is because the audio levels are really bad. Like I don’t know how they did the sound mixing, but it’s just shit. Sometimes the music or sound effects are incredibly loud and drowns out the speech. Other times the speech levels are just incredibly low, lower than a whisper, that I still can’t hear it or make it out. Even if I put my headphone audio on full blast. So it makes it extra difficult for me to discern what’s being said. The episodes of My Name Is Busaba on Viki were released with Chinese hard subs. Meaning it had Chinese subtitles directly on the video itself, as opposed to the subtitles being overlaid on the video. So sometimes I had to rely on the hardsubs. However, I am not fluent in Chinese at all. Like I’m pretty good at pronunciation and singing Mandarin songs. I only know a couple words and phrases. However, I don’t have fluent understanding of it at all. Like my knowledge on languages is in this specific order: English, Thai, Japanese, Spanish, Korean, and Mandarin. So I’d be sitting there on Google Translate and deadass drawing out the damn characters and sentences. Bruhhh, do you have any idea how hard itis to write out Chinese? Then I had to try to make sense of the machine translation and also kind of compare it to what I could make out in Thai. That was how I would try make the most accurate translation I could do given the circumstances.

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Ah? Eh? Eung???

Often times, I’d have to actually do research in order to properly translate and make the subtitles. I also had to do it for translation notes to explain the context of things. My Name Is Busaba is centered around traditional (like hella old traditional) Thai cuisine. I’m lucky I know a decent amount about Thai cooking since my family has owned and run several Thai restaurants. Thai food is literally how I make my IRL living. However, I’m not used to super ancient and traditional Thai cuisine. I literally had no freaking clue. So I’d have to ask my mom or grandma. Sometimes I’d be doing research on Google. Sometimes I couldn’t search for things in English. So I’d have to do some weird backward search in Thai. Remember that I absolutely suck at reading Thai. Sure, I can read some text messages, and a few words and lines. However, if you shove a whole article or book in my face I’m like WTF??? My writing skills are worse than my reading skills. They’re basically non-existent. I have to do romanized Thai input and convert it to Thai text through Thai2English. However, I’m stuck with only the options they give, so it’s not always accurate.

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I know this is really long, but that’s my point. Alot of work goes into translating and releasing translations. I personally think I have it much easier than alot of other people who work around the clock to bring translations. I’m just doing it casually, yet sometimes I’ll easily spend 2 hours on translating an episode… and that’s for the series that already have subtitles. That’s just when I’m trying to review and revise for accuracy! Already made subs, even if inaccurate, can kind of layout the groundwork for me so I can work a bit faster. However, for the ones where I start from scratch, it can take me like 2-3 hours depending on how much researching and double checking I have to do. If it’s not overly complicated, then we’re lucky if I can finish it within 1 – 1.5 hours. I’m usually doing my translations after work and everything. Sometimes I end up working on stuff until 2-3am before finally heading off to bed. Then I have to wake up and get ready for work before 9am. Even though I’m just doing it occasionally and at my own pace, even I get overwhelmed at times. My brain gets really fried from overworking in multiple languages for too long.

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There are translation teams that literally spend their own money and resources to get the source materials, dedicate a whole schedule, and invest a ton of time and effort to release a project. Sometimes it includes multiple projects! Legality aside, I know scanlations for manga/webtoons require just as much, if not more, effort. They have type setting, redrawing, and a whole ton of other stuff. Remember that these fan translators (be it manga/webtoons, dramas, movies, etc) are just that, they’re only fans. They’re not professionals. They’re volunteering to do all this work in addition to all their real life jobs, circumstances, and commitments. Often times, I’ve seen people curse out these translators and constantly pester them for releases. I’ve had it happen to me before on Opas the Series. I, personally, wasn’t too bothered by it because I was only doing it on occasion and rarely read comments anyway. After all, it was just a side hobby to kill time for me. However, I have seen comments for other series in dramas and manga/webtoons. Some people are incredibly rude.

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Don’t demand or order these translators around. Many of these people are really dedicated to their projects. They’re truly giving their all. They’ve invested actual resources (money), so much time, and so much effort to make a release. I’ve seen people trash the quality of translations or redrawing sometimes too. Like in the most over the top and unnecessary way. There are times where English is not the translator’s first langauge. Yet, they’re trying their best. Often times it’s not even that bad. It’s really not that hard to understand. The English might be a bit broken or have some grammar issues, but it’s still pretty understandable. I say that as someone used to communicating with alot of people who speak very broken English or no English at all. Often times, these translations really aren’t that bad. People just like to nitpick and bitch over nothing. Also…these people put in all this time, effort, and resources to give you something for FREE.

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This is going to be one of the times I’ll be a straight up bitch. If you’re going to bitch, complain, and insult these translators… you can shut the fuck up. If you think it’s not good enough, do it your fucking self. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it. Do not hide your insults under the guise of, “It’s just constructive criticism”. It’s really not. More often, it’s just plain entitlement. If you truly have constructive criticism, address it in a more respectable fashion and when they ask for it. Sometimes these insults and demands really wear out translators, and it makes them scared to continue their translation projects. Just don’t be a douche. I’m not mad for myself, but mad because I feel bad for these dedicated people who put in so much to be treated like that. Even more so because I AM aware of the type of effort and work goes into it. Like I put in alot of work and effort for my translations, still it doesn’t even compare to the amount that these other groups put in.

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I know this was an incredibly long post and discussion. However, I wanted people to see the work and effort that goes into the translations for people to enjoy a series. Translations are not an easy thing to do. Sometimes it’s actually a bit more chaotic and confusing when you know more than one language. For me, I sometimes get overwhelmed and fry my brain from going back and forth so much. At times everything just gets completely mixed up. There are times where I’m like, “I can’t… even… English… anymore.” I figured it’s something many people don’t even really think about, or even cross their mind. So I hope you can appreciate the work and effort of these translators. Please be more patient and understanding. After all, they’re fans just like you. However, they want to share these things with other people. So they put in that extra time and effort for nothing. The least you can do is give them some respect and understanding. Understand that this is not their full time job. They have IRL jobs and commitments. Just respect them and their efforts. Don’t be a douche. That’s all. Anyway, I hope this was some food for thought for y’all. Where you aware of how much work and effort goes into translations? What did you think? Have you done translations before? What were your experiences like? Are you bilingual or multilingual? How is translating like for you? If you’re one of those people who appreciate translators, I just want to say that you’re awesome. Also, don’t forget to support the original creators either by purchasing the raws or the official translated versions when they drop! Stay safe, and I hope you guys have a fantastic day~

LET’S BE FRIENDS!~ (つ✧ω✧)つ

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Fangirl all the things!~

Hihi! I’m Minty! I’m Thai-American~ เป็นคนไทยค่ะ~ ยินดีที่ได้รู้จักนะคะ~
I’m BAYOG’s hella basic Asian chick, Real People Stuffs expert, and boba addict. I’ve been a part of the BAYOG Crew since 2017~ I fangirl and mostly blog about music, live action movies/dramas, manga/webtoons, and occasionally webnovels~ When I’m not blogging, I’m usually writing/singing Thai-English covers~

It’s nice to meet all of you lovely people from around the world! Thanks for stopping by our blog!~
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I also sing and write lyrics~
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Take care y’all. Please stay safe and take care of yourself. All jokes and fun aside…please, please, please, pleaaaase always wash your hands, practice social distancing, and wear a mask! It’s better to be cautious than face irrevocable consequences of health complications or death.


AS A GROUP OF BIPOC, BAYOG strongly stands with Black Lives Matter. We’ve individually done several donations. Of course, donations to support the cause and support change isn’t the only thing needed. Support for the cause and change also requires conversation. Make sure to have those conversations. Aside from donating, I had several conversations with my family. I explained things to my parents, especially since some news stories were being reported inaccurately. I was afraid it’d be a bit difficult. However, as fellow BIPOC and human beings, it was a necessary conversation. My parents and grandma understand, and now stand on the same page regarding BLM as well. Please remember to be an active supporter, be it through donations, sharing information, and/or conversations and speaking up.

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Keep it up fam!

If you can, please consider donating. I’ve donated more than once as well. For one of my donations, I donated through the BTS ARMY x BLM project. I recommend that if you’re unsure of where to donate. This is because the donation will be split amongst several different non-profit organizations. Of course, you can also choose a specific organization(s) if you wish as well. You can find that [HERE].

You can also check out the following:

Stay strong. Fight racism, brutality, injustice, and bullshit. Don’t lose sight of the goal. We’re witnessing and being a part of history. Be allies and make sure change happens. Once again, BLACK LIVES MATTER.

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