Pornography Translation: Subtitles or Dubbing?

July 25th, 2015

Pornography, whether it be filmed, written or illustrated, broadens the horizons of its audience through translation.

Pornography Translation: Subtitles or Dubbing? | One Hour Translation

As with literature, cinema and comic strips that are suitable for all audiences, pornography, whether it be filmed, written or illustrated, broadens the horizons of its audience through translation.

With porn films constituting a genre very much oriented toward the effect on the viewer, the content’s specific localization is not so crucial. And remembering that dubbing is a lot more expensive than subtitling, the predominance of subtitling can be explained by the reduced relevance of the dialogue, in addition to the fundamentally visual content of the action being narrated.

Comparatively, audio-visual pornography has generally been more translated than its literary counterpart, although the arrival of the Fifty Shades trilogy certainly led to an increase in erotic-romantic translations. But, on the other hand, the increase of e-books has created a boom in the consumption of pornographic-erotic literature. The industry relating to portable reading devices pointed out that, prior to these devices, most people were too embarrassed to read these kinds of works in public, but with the arrival of tablets the embarrassing cover-problem disappeared.

The Pornography Genre and Translation

Historically, there were several events that created the ‘before and after’ for this genre and, in particular, for the translation industry.

The Arrival of VHS

First, in the 1970s we had the arrival of VHS. This was a huge event for the industry because, although it created new commercial options based around the sale and rental of video tapes, it had a negative effect on the sale of admissions, which was once the main revenue source for cinema.

Then, with the beginning of household use of pornographic film came the broadening of localization horizons, and with that came a new challenge for translators.

Cable TV and Pornography

At roughly the same time Cable TV was introduced throughout the majority of the West, a medium pornography did not want to be left out of. Transnational multimedia groups made room for it on the grids of almost every cable TV system, ultimately leading to an increase in the workloads of translators due to the adaption and localization of the complete range of new productions produced directly for television.

Internet Pornography

And finally we come to internet pornography. Although this represents the final stop in support media’s evolution, on one hand it marks the industry’s maximum reach in terms of distribution and expansion; while on the other hand it’s broken the upward curve seen in translations of this genre.

A quick overview of the internet’s main pornography sites does confirm that most productions are not subtitled or dubbed and that any content not spoken in English creates its own category within this genre.

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