This article aims to describe some of the main terminological problems audiovisual translators have to face when dealing with the translation of science documentaries, specifically in the English-Catalan combination. The first section of the article presents some theoretical concepts which underlie this research and which are taken, for the most part, from Cabré’s Communicative Theory of Terminology. Then, specific terminological problems audiovisual translators have to solve are described using the data provided by a corpus of four science documentaries lasting approximately 50 minutes each. These challenges include identifying a term, understanding a term, finding the right equivalent, dealing with the absence of an adequate equivalent, solving denominative variations, choosing between
terminology, and overcoming mistranscriptions.
Recent research on the reception of interlingual subtitling revealed that it is cognitively effective: watching a subtitled film results in a good understanding of the film content, it does not require a significant tradeoff between image processing and text processing, and it leads to a good performance in the recognition of the words and expressions contained in the subtitles. To date, the studies that revealed the effectiveness of subtitle processing have been conducted mono-nationally — e.g. d’Ydewalle and De Bruycker (2007) in Belgium; Wissmath et al. (2009) in Switzerland; Perego et al. (2010, 2015) in Italy; Hinkin et al. (2014) in the US. However, it has not yet been demonstrated empirically whether subtitle effectiveness varies depending on the familiarity of viewers with subtitles. The cross-national study described in this paper aims to fill this gap and appraise the cognitive performance and overall appreciation of a moderately complex subtitled film by viewers with different degrees of familiarity with subtitles, i.e., viewers living in countries (Italy, Spain, Poland and Dutch-speaking Belgium) with different audiovisual translation traditions. The main findings reveal that subtitling is effective irrespective of users’ familiarity with it, although it is not enjoyed equally among the tested populations.