Magoosh English Lesson: Stranger Things: Creating a Global Phenomenon through Translation

Welcome to the next lesson in this series of Magoosh’s free English classes

Goals:

  • Learn new words related to television
  • Explain why Stranger Things is internationally popular due to good translations
  • Explore a grammar topic

Difficulty Level: Intermediate

Time: Approximately 15 minutes

 

Stranger Things: Creating a Global Phenomenon through Translation

Four years ago, no one knew about the strange things happening in the small town of Hawkins, Indiana. But by the third season, 64 million households around the world had watched the entire season. Merchandise became available not only in American stores, but in European and Asian markets as well. A Stranger Things themed pop-up bar appeared in Chicago last summer for a six week run. 

 

How did it happen?

To begin to answer that question, we’ll have to look at the structure of the TV streaming service Netflix itself. The company operates in 190 countries and has (as of this writing) nearly 183 million subscribers globally. That’s a huge audience base! But even Netflix admits that just because you have an audience all over the world, it doesn’t mean that a show will be popular everywhere.

 

The Power of Translation

However, with a show like Stranger Things, that’s where the power of translation comes into play. And Netflix went all-in on getting the translations of the show perfect. Stranger Things has subtitles in 20 different languages! In addition, the translators who work on the show have very detailed and specific rules they follow to convey the tone and story

Each translator works with a key words and phrases sheet to ensure consistency in translation for every language. And, because the show is set in the 1980s, Netflix went the extra mile to make sure that they translate words that were used in the language at that time. For example, season 1 of Stranger Things features Eggo waffles as a big part of a plot line. To ensure it was properly translated, they went through decades-old marketing materials to be sure the wording was correct.

This dedication to proper translation was also applied to words that are unique to the show. They researched old cultural translations for words relating to mythical creatures and other unique characters you see on the show. With that level of dedication to translation, it’s no wonder the show has amassed a dedicated global fan base.

 

Word Focus

  • Pop-up Business – (noun) – A business that launches at a location for a limited time; sometimes for a few hours, sometimes one day, sometimes a few weeks or months. Examples include: pop-up restaurant, pop-up shop, pop-up store, pop-up market.

They’re opening up a pop-up restaurant in that location to test a concept for four months.

  • Come(s) into play – (idiom) – Something that helps to produce or influence or has an effect on a result.

Everything was fine until the weather came into play.

  • All-in – (adjective) – In poker, the term refers to betting all of your money. The phrase has expanded to mean fully committed to something.

The auto company went all-in on developing their new model.

  • Go (went) the extra mile – (phrase) – To put in more work or effort than what is expected.

Theresa went the extra mile at her new job and was promoted within three months.

  • Plot line – (noun) – A part of a connected series of stories that make up the plot of a show or movie.

The series featured many too many plot lines with supporting characters that made the story very confusing as a whole.

  • Fan base – (noun) – The collective fans of a sports team, music group, tv show, movie, Broadway show, etc.

Star Wars has one of the largest fan bases in the world.

 

Grammar Center

Look at this sentence from the above passage:

And Netflix went all-in on getting the translations of the show perfect.

Notice the phrase in bold. What part of speech is that? Noun? Verb? It looks like it could be a verb, because getting is the present participle of the verb get. However, the phrase itself acts like a noun. The phrase is actually a grammar tool used in English called a gerund phrase

A gerund is a defined as the present participle of a verb that is used as a noun. And the gerund phrase just adds the modifiers that go with the gerund. Here are a few examples:

  • Throwing her keys in the field was an act of anger and stupidity.
  • Running around the track is one of my favorite forms of exercise.
  • He was always a fan of taking the boat for a spin on the lake.
  • My mom always loved baking cakes on a Sunday afternoon.

Gerunds are pretty easy to spot as they always act as a noun within a sentence. They can be with the subject or the object and function exactly the same as a noun does.

The main aspect that might trick a reader is when reading a participle phrase. Remember, gerunds act like nouns and do not modify other words. You can alter some of the gerund phrases above and easily turn them into participle phrases. For example:

  • Baking a cake this afternoon, my mom released a lot of tension from the week.

Now baking a cake modifies the verb released as it explains how my mom released her tension.

If you’re not sure if a phrase is a gerund phrase, simply test to see if it acts like a noun and you’ll be able to identify it with ease. Know anything about gerunds or gerund phrases we missed? Leave a comment below and let us know!

 

Quiz

1. Based on the information from the passage, which statement is true?

A. Netflix operates in 20 countries and has 190 million subscribers.
B. Stranger Things was viewed by 183 million households.
C. Netflix operates in 64 countries and has 183 million subscribers.
D. Netflix operates in 190 countries and has 183 million subscribers.

 

2. Based on your understanding of the passage, which statement best reflects the main idea of the passage?

A. Netflix is a global media company with millions of subscribers.
B. Netflix used precise translation practices to help make Stranger Things reach a wide, global audience.
C. Netflix will continue to create more seasons of Stranger Things.
D. Netflix will use its Stranger Things translation practices on other shows.

 

3. A pop-up business is a business that intends to open for a specific amount of time.

A. True
B. False

 

4. Which sentence incorrectly uses the phrase come into play?

A. When discussing baseball, two important factors come into play: the pitcher and the hitter.
B. Until all of our available resources come into play, I don’t see how we’re going to get out of this situation.
C. Can you come into play for me?
D. Jokes come into play when discussing a comedian.

 

5. Gerunds always act as a noun.

A. True
B. False

 

6. Which of the following sentences contains a gerund phrase?

A. Throwing the bat, Tim charged the pitchers mound in anger.
B. I noticed a family running to catch their plane.
C. Fishing on the lake was my dad’s favorite activity.
D. Students planning to study geology should have a basic understanding of rocks.

 

Answers:

  1. D
  2. B
  3. A
  4. C
  5. A
  6. C
Jake Pool

Jake Pool

After working in the restaurant industry for over a decade, Jake left to pursue his career as a writer and ESL teacher. He now creates content that informs, inspires, and educates ESL students on a wide range of topics. Jake also records audio for his articles to help students with pronunciation and comprehension.
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