The American Translators Association (ATA), the largest professional organization for translators and interpreters in the U.S., has shared an open letter in response to recent statements in the press and on social media about a shortage of professional translators and subtitlers. The letter is a call for fair working conditions for translators in the entertainment industry.
“There is no shortage, but instead a disconnect between the value of this skilled work and the pay offered, leading to a perceived lack of qualified professionals available for these jobs and subpar subtitles in the world’s most popular titles in film and TV,” ATA President Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo stated in the letter.
President Sánchez Zampaulo also noted that current practices within the entertainment industry “devalue subtitlers’ work, discourage truly qualified professionals from accepting these jobs, and impede international viewers’ enjoyment of these titles.”
“On behalf of the American Translators Association, I urge film and television production studios and the language service providers they contract with to refocus on a quality subtitling process, which starts with hiring professional subtitlers at professional rates rather than unskilled multilingual labor at pay that can work out to well below minimum wage,” President Sánchez Zampaulo stated.
“The veritable explosion of international entertainment options is a positive development and producing high-quality subtitles is in the best interest of studios, streaming platforms, and viewers. The professionals who work painstakingly to craft the multilingual versions of our favorite movies and shows should be able to share in the revenue generated thanks to their work.”
Founded in 1959, the American Translators Association’s primary goals include fostering and supporting the professional development of translators and interpreters and promoting the translation and interpreting professions. ATA, based in Alexandria, Virginia, has nearly 10,000 members in over 100 countries. For more information on ATA, please visit www.atanet.org.