From ‘Taiwan dramas spoilt by dubbing, translation’ 16 Apr 2011,Voices,Today
(Ho Qin Yuan): My friends and I watch the Taiwanese drama Love on weekdays at 7pm and we are fed up with how Channel 8 broadcasts it.
It repeatedly plays the same theme song, I Ask Sky. The opening images, as well as those seguing to and from the commercials, have not changed over more than 600 episodes – unlike Formosa TV and China’s CCTV network, which changes them frequently. Is there some rights issue involved?
Channel 8 should also remove the English subtitles from all the Taiwanese dramas it airs because when the translation of the dialogue is inaccurate it ruins the show.
We are tired of the fact the dramas are broadcast in Mandarin, rather than the original Hokkien or dual sound. Our greatest disgust is that the songs for the drama Life have been dubbed in Mandarin – the lyrics in Mandarin are all wrong. Can Channel 8 play the songs in their original Hokkien?
Considering that TV licence fees have been indefinitely waived, fans of Ai should count themselves lucky that this immensely popular series hasn’t been discontinued since. Ms Ho should also realise that Ai is watched not just by the Hokkien-speaking alone, and if Mediacorp had catered exclusively to this group without considering viewers of other dialect groups or even non-Chinese, the limited scope of viewership wouldn’t justify the cost of televising it. And before you can sing the empathic first two lines of ‘I Ask Sky’, Cantonese speakers would follow suit to demand that their serials be undubbed as well. Someone will have to drum the Speak Mandarin campaign into these people’s heads again to remind them that Mediacorp is far likelier to allow a sloppily censored Lust, Caution on national TV than a squeak of Hokkien in a drama serial that has a total running time longer than the average human gestation period. Note the complete lack of irony in the writer’s endorsement of a ridiculous title like ‘I Ask Sky’, which would be a more apt English translation for a pygmy rain dance than a contemporary Taiwan drama theme song.
To complain about English subtitles is not only selfishly depriving others of enjoying the series, muted punchlines aside, but utterly absurd, since anyone who is able to detect inaccuracy in translation has no need to rely on them in the first place, and has no right demanding that they be removed. Most people have grown to settle for dubbed serials for decades, and as long as everyone is on the same page with regards to the basic plot, which is the essential social function of Ai at nursing homes and senior citizen corners, why ‘ask of the sky’ to un-dub them now? Most of Ai is dramatic face-slapping anyway, which means the same thing in whatever language you dub it in. Here’s a tip to the complainant, get someone to teach you how to log in to the internet, type Youtube.com, search for I Ask Sky, download it into your handphone, and listen to your heart’s content. Or better still, switch to cable or DVD, or belt it out at void deck KTV, instead of complaining about how Mandarin-dubbed theme songs are all wrong in a national paper.