Friend of mine asked if I could translate some texts for his game. I joked and asked “if could do voice acting too?” He replied that “text will do” and then he started to ponder if “it’s okay to have English voices and Finnish subtitles?”.
This made me ponder that perhaps one of the key things in localization is to remember that it’s not only about language, it’s also about the culture. For example, here in Finland many of us probably prefer watching foreign movies with English speech and Finnish subtitles. Some (non-Finnish) experts suggest that we Finns “lose” something for the experience and we should translate the language. As a Finnish guy, I strongly disagree and here’s one example.
I have seen one Finnish spoken episode of Bold & Beautiful. It was the most hilarious comedy I’ve ever experienced in television. I laughed out loud for the whole episode. It was pure comedy. It’s simply because it simply sounded odd. It’s better to have good English actors than replace them with cheap Finnish ones. English speech is okay (since most of us understand some English anyway) with Finnish subtitles. That way we actually experience the feelings of the original actors, but also get translated about the key ideas what was said.
So… I think localization that doesn’t take into account the culture has a greater risk of failing than localization that understands the cultural aspects.
It can be easier and cheaper too (just think of what it costs to create a whole new voice acting compared to adding subtitles only, and we Finns probably like it more that way too. At least most of us who understand English..)