Netflix’s Hermes translator test aims for high quality across all languages

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Netflix is looking to raise the bar for subtitling quality across all streaming media, starting with its own services. To that end, it’s launched Hermes, its new testing platform for translators which looks to bring the entire process of localizing content in-house. It will still use people from around the world, but they’ll be working through Netflix, rather than third parties.

Five years ago, Netflix’s streaming platform only supported five languages, but today, it supports more than 20. However, Netflix wants to take it beyond that and support more languages than any other streaming platform and do so with unparalleled quality. It wants to make sure people can view content in their native language, while retaining the cultural nuances and creative intent of the source material.

Netflix describes Hermes as “emblematic of Hollywood meets Silicon Valley,” in that it’s a test that’s designed to be highly scalable and consists of thousands of combinations of randomized questions so that no two tests will be the same. It asks multiple choice questions to test how well prospective translators can understand English, and identify linguistic and technical errors and their subtitling proficiently.

One of the categories of testing Netflix particularly looks at for its translation services is idioms. Can you translate “on the ball,” or “guts for garters” into a foreign language? Then you might be a good fit for Netflix’s translation services.

One of the long terms goals of Netflix’s Hermes service however, is to gather an idea of how many quality translators are available to it. By issuing what it calls “H-Numbers,” to applicants and giving them a score based on their test results, it can have a much better estimate of how long it will take to translate certain content into new and existing languages.

Netflix hopes that with this system it can match translators to their most applicable genres. While some may consider themselves great at certain types of films or shows, Netflix data may have a different idea in mind.

Already thousands of people have signed up to take the test. If you’d like to have a go yourself, you can learn more on the official Hermes website.

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