If you’re wondering whether the title refers to you or not, that means it does.
Editors, let’s talk.
We’ve come a long way from the days of yore where spelling mistakes were as common as gloryholes in a Denny’s bathroom stall, but y’all still have serious issues with understanding how to use italics properly. And because Crymore is the only place anyone learns English from these days, I thought I’d take it upon me to fix this issue before the new season begins.
Why are accents important?
Going off the assumption that your retardation is learned rather than inherent, as long as I can convince you that italics are useful, this issue will solve itself. Please let this be the case.
They reflect natural speech inflections.
People place emphasis on words and phrases all the time in daily parlance. It’s impossible to fully reflect the range of inflect with a binary subtitle set (that is, italics or non-italics), but that doesn’t mean one should ignore the decision. Rather, the choice to italicize for emphasis should be considered a relatively rare occurrence (for when it’s truly necessary), such that it still retains meaning as a distinguisher.
Said inflections also convey specific meanings. By placing emphasis on certain words, you are effectively changing how the line is to be interpreted.
Here, have some examples:
I don’t want to kill you. -> It is what it is.
I don’t want to kill you. -> I don’t want to kill you, but someone else does.
I don’t want to kill you. -> I really don’t want to kill you. Forceful. (You’d probably use this for a situation where the lovable protagonist is being told to kill the villain… by the villain himself. But the protag is trying to resolve the issue through other means, like the power of heart. I dunno. Back to more examples.)
I don’t want to kill you. -> I don’t want to kill you, but I’m gonna have to.
I don’t want to kill you. -> Uhh, this means nothing.
I don’t want to kill you. -> I don’t want to kill you, but maybe I’ll just maim you a bit.
I don’t want to kill you. -> I don’t want to kill you, but I may want to kill someone else.
If you don’t understand these differences, you should not be editing. Try again when you have a native understanding of the language, especially since you’re very likely fucking up other parts of the subs you’re working with.
Calling attention to certain words or terms allows you to highlight their importance. Let’s say your translator told you that what a character’s saying is really important, but the only way for the viewers to truly get a sense of what’s going on is for them to read a fucking Wikipedia article on the subject. Well, you can use italics as a way to point out “hey, this might be important”.
For example, let’s take an example where you have a character doing a bit of foreshadowing.
“We’re not going to take this anymore.”
“We’re not going to take this anymore.”
Both examples are correct, but the latter piques the viewers’ interest. Maybe they’ll start thinking about that scene more.
Or you can use them to highlight words being used in a pun, if you’re afraid the audience will miss the joke otherwise. Think of them as very handy cue cards.
In fact, this is actually why various style guides recommend you italicize foreign words — to let viewers know they should look that shit up to see what it means. Of course with anime, that would result in very… shitty looking subs.
So… italics on everything?
Please contain yourself. Like I said before, overuse of italics will cheapen their meaning. Think how people speak in real life and what the line needs to get across.
Just use your goddamn brain and actively check for this shit and you’ll be fine.
Special emphasis rules
Since a PSA alone would be boring, here’s some shit you might not have known:
Use italics first
Italics are not the only means to convey emphasis, but they are the most commonly accepted method.
Alternate methods of emphasis are CAPITALIZING LETTERS, bolding words, and underlining shit. These have all fallen out of favor in both literature and subtitles because they look terrible.
That doesn’t mean you can’t use them every now and then, but you should make absolutely certain italics would not get across what you need.
“How do I emphasize in a line that’s all italics?”
In keeping with the theme of using something out of place to attract attention, you’d simply use a normal, de-italicized version of the font for the word or phrase you want emphasized.
For example, if you’re using italics for when people’s thoughts need to be translated, you could have something like:
“My dick is so hard right now.“
I mean, doesn’t that just jump out at you?
Wait, I can use italics for…
There are lots of special rules regarding italics that may not necessarily come up in fansubs.
Letters of the alphabet. Probably not gonna come up much in subs, you can use them here. (I prefer to use quotation marks for these, but either way works.)
“The letters of the day are f and u.”
“If her mouth wasn’t such a hotbed of herpes labialis, I might take the dip more than once a week.”
Titles of work, like poems or movies and shit.
“Orgazmo is a great example of a highly overrated highly underrated movie.”
Words by themselves. (I really prefer to use quotation marks for scenarios like this, though.)
“When I think of Dark_Sage, the word sexilicious springs to mind.” (Thanks for the sentiment, by the way.)
Don’t be stupid.