Translating subtitles

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En français

This page is currently of limited use. Please see Translating_subtitles_intro.

Note: After Apertium's migration to GitHub, this tool is read-only on the SourceForge repository and does not exist on GitHub. If you are interested in migrating this tool to GitHub, see Migrating tools to GitHub.

If you want to translate subtitles with Apertium, you can either

  1. use the Java program Apertium Subtitles to get translation suggestions one-by-one either from a local installation or from the server,
  2. use the subtitle editor Gaupol with the Apertium extension to translate a file from a local installation, or
  3. translate from the command line, and then use your favorite subtitling application (e.g. Gaupol or Jubler) to post-edit.

Read on for more information on method 2 and 3.

As always, remember that any machine translated text needs to be post-edited by a human before publishing :)

Gaupol extension[edit]

Gaupol is a program for translating or editing subtitles, and has preview and other handy features. It is installable from the regular repositories in Ubuntu, Arch Linux, etc.

There is an Apertium extension for Gaupol in incubator. To install, simply check it out and put it in your Gaupol extensions directory. E.g. to install for just your user:

   $ mkdir -p ~/.local/share/gaupol/extensions # make sure the directory exists
   $ cd  ~/.local/share/gaupol/extensions
   $ svn co apertium

Now start Gaupol and click Edit->Preferences->Extensions, tick off Apertium. Optionally, edit the settings (e.g. if you installed apertium somewhere other than /usr/local). Now open a subtitle file and click the Apertium menu and Translate. Select a translation direction, and after a short wait the translations of that file will appear in the translation column. (If there is no translation column, click View->Columns->Translation Text to turn it on.)

Note your apertium version needs to be recent enough to support the -l command line option, try apertium -l and see if lists installed language pairs. See Installation for how to get an up-to-date version.

Translating subtitles from the command line[edit]

There are no format filters for srt or sub files in Apertium, but with some trickery we can get it translated.

We'll use Translate Toolkit's sub2po to turn our subtitle file into a po-file, then use Pology's pomtrans to translate that with our local Apertium installation, then Translate Toolkit's po2sub can turn it back into a subtitle file.

Install the prerequisites[edit]

We need Translate Toolkit, which needs Gaupol and chardet in order to perform the conversion, and Pology. And of course we need Apertium and a language pair; for that, see Minimal installation from SVN

On Ubuntu[edit]

   $ apt-get install translate-toolkit gaupol python-chardet

And check out Pology from SVN:

   $ svn co svn://
   $ export PATH=$PWD/pology/bin:$PATH
   $ export PYTHONPATH=$PWD/pology:$PYTHONPATH
   $ . $PWD/pology/completion/bash/pology

(see for more information on Pology)

On Arch Linux[edit]

   $ pacman -S translate-toolkit gaupol python2-chardet

Pology is in the Arch User Repository; either download and build with makepkg or use yaourt:

   $ yaourt -S pology-svn

Convert, translate, convert back, post-edit[edit]

Say you have the file that you want to translate into Catalan.

Convert it into a po-file like this:

  sub2po -i -o

This po-file will have the Spanish as the source text, and completely empty target entries. Run that po-file through Apertium:

  /opt/pology/bin/pomtrans -s es -t ca -T /usr/local/bin/apertium -M es-ca apertium

where -T gives the path to your apertium installation, and -M is the mode to use. Now the po-file will have Catalan text in the target entries :-) Convert it back to a po-file, using the timestamps from the original subtitle file:

  po2sub --fuzzy -t -i -o

We give --fuzzy to include fuzzy entries. Pology's pomtrans by default (as it should) marks all machine translated text as fuzzy.

Now you can post-edit in Jubler or Gaupol or whatever we want. Alternatively, you can edit the actual po-file in a po-editor like Virtaal or Lokalize before the po2sub step, although then you won't be able to compare with the movie as easily.

A script that does it for you[edit]

Put the script below in a file called e.g. apertium-sub, make it executable with chmod +x apertium-sub and put it in your $PATH. Then you can translate subtitles like this:

   $ apertium-sub es-ca

The script:


# Put the correct paths to your programs here:

# You shouldn't have to change anything below this line

if [ $# -ne 3 ]; then
    echo "Usage: bash $0 mode";
    echo "Example: bash $0 es-ca_valencia";
    exit 1;


pofile=$(mktemp -t $mode.XXXXXXXXXX.po);

echo "Converting to po..."
$SUB2PO -i "$insub" -o "$pofile"

echo "Translating..."
$POMTRANS -s src -t trg -M "$mode" -T $APERTIUM apertium $pofile
# The -s and -t don't actually matter since we override them with -M, 
# they just have to be non-empty.

echo "Converting back from po..."
$PO2SUB --fuzzy -t "$insub" -i $pofile -o "$outsub"
# Since pomtrans marked everything as fuzzy, tell po2sub to include fuzzy

See also[edit]