Netflix Swahili subtitles: Kenyans react to translation gone wrong

Netflix Swahili subtitles: Kenyans react to translation gone wrong

Global streaming platform, Netflix added the option to use Swahili subtitles to its program offering last week, and Kenyans met the move with humour and ridicule on social media, as they felt the translations provided on the platform were inaccurate, and outrightly wrong in some cases.

A tweeter, Kahinda said on Twitter:

“Swahili subtitles on @netflix are hilarious. They’re using pretty flawed translation software or someone pranked them. If you’re in a laugh out loud mood switch them on. Exhibit A, Bodyguard Episode 2 recap -English: Get out of the toilet! Swahili subtitles: Ondoa choo!” Ondoa choo translates directly to ‘remove the toilet’.”

Nizz, another tweeter said:

“If you love to laugh, and comedy isn’t working, turn on Netflix’s Swahili subtitles… it will crack you to a magical world and back!”.

A more disppointed tweeter, Betty said:

“Hey @netflix PLEASE switch off your HORRIBLE Swahili subtitles. ‘Bye Guys’ – ‘Kwaheri wanaume’; Are you crazy? Bad bad bad translations is WORSE than no translations. Stop making a mockery of our languages”

The addition of Swahili subtitles forms an integral part of Netflix’s drive to grow its African audience on the continent. 2019 has seen the appointment of several Africans in strategic management positions in the organization, including Kenyan producer, Dorothy Getthuba as Manager of International Originals.

The streaming giant also announced last year that it would begin commissioning African original productions in 2019.

Thus far, 2 original series have been commissioned, both from South Africa. The first series titled, ‘Shadow’ features Amanda Du Pont and the second, titled ‘Pallance Dladla’.

The series follows the story of a superhero, Shadow, as he tries to save Johannesburg from its high crime rate.

Netflix also continues to acquire Nollywood movies for the platform. In 2018, the platform made history by acquiring Genevieve Nnaji’s film, Lion Heart as their first Nigerian Original film, for a rumoured $3.5 million.


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