I'm in the process of applying for a job that would involve working with Welsh speaking actors and broadcasters. Everyone on set would also understand and speak English fluently but the content would be in Welsh, a language I know only a few words of.

I'm wondering if anyone else has been in this situation? I'm imagining that dialogue editing could be tricky without truly knowing how the words are supposed to sound. As this job is mostly a boom operator role I can't imagine it being a huge issue and speaking Welsh is a 'desirable' but not 'essential' factor of the application.

Apologies if this is a little vague, I just thought it was an interesting issue.

5 Answers 5


I've worked on a few projects in languages I don't speak; the biggest was a study aid tape in Russian. It was an hour long and I was editing on tape (this was about 20 years ago) and I had to have the translator sitting next to me the whole time to make sure I was cutting the right words. After a pretty excruciating 5-hour session, the client decided to recast one of the voice actors and I had to recut the entire thing the next week. Fun.


I've worked on projects in Spanish (South American and European), French (Canadian and European), German, Portugese, Mandarin and Cantonese without understanding them. I do know some Spanish. At least on the side I'm on - recording/editing, the client will usually have someone to sit with you and edit as well as direct the talent. I would have been dead in the water with the 2 Chinese languages because they really can't be read if you don't know the language. Most of my foreign language experience has been in Spanish, there are a lot of subtleties that can get lost at times if everyone isn't familiar with the language, like formal vs casual uses.


I have worked on many project including French, English, Portuguese (Brazil), Spanish, Polish, Turkish, German, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Korean, Finnish, Swedish and even Welsh. Never had any issue/complain from the client after cleaning/trimming/editing files. The only issue I had was with Chinese and Japanese, I actually had to copy/paste the script and use google translate " listen " function to track differences between very similar takes.


In one of my previous jobs, I had to edit in over 17 languages. Besides English, I only had any real experience in French and Spanish...and I was/am nowhere near fluent in either. We had a mechanism set up where a phonetic English script would be provided by whatever staffer/outside company was providing the original translation from English to the target language. I would edit using that, and then we had native speakers for QC. I never had anything kicked back when I was using the phonetic scripts. The only time anything ever came back was because of translation discrepancies. Translation, as you may know, is an art all itself. People often interpret in different ways, and that was always the sticking point.


In college I helped edit a documentary on the rash of rape/murders in Mexico. It was composed mainly of interviews and shot in Spanish. Of the three of us on the team, one had no Spanish experience, I had limited Spanish experience and one of us grew up speaking Spanish fluently.

It was certainly a challenging environment to work in and if you plan to do it long term, I would advocate getting at least some understanding of the language. The guy with no Spanish experience did ok, but it slowed him down quite a bit and he needed the fluent speaker to translate for him.

Even though I only took a couple years of high school Spanish (6 years before), can't speak pretty much any of it anymore and have only been to Mexico a couple of times, I found that I was able to understand a sufficient amount of what they were saying to grasp the general concept. It allowed me to move fairly quickly since I only had to ask the fluent speaker about the occasional cut where I couldn't tell exactly where a natural break in dialog was.

It is certainly a challenging environment to work in, but it can be doable, particularly if you are decent at picking up languages quickly through immersion.

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