Subtitling for television is an area that has only recently found its niche in Translation Studies. This paper, based on the author's M.A. research into a corpus of subtitled material shown on Croatian Television (HRT), is a modest contribution to the growing sub-field(s) of Translation Studies variously referred to as 'screen translation', 'audiovisual translation' (AVT) or, more broadly, 'multimedia translation'. The paper offers a brief survey of the key features of subtitling and then goes on to illustrate how these may shed light on particular aspects of translation in general. The analysis focuses on interpersonal relations between the fictional characters of a popular U.S. TV series (ER) and examines what happens to those relations when the audiovisual source product is subtitled for the audience of a nationwide, public TV network in south-eastern Europe. The constraints inherent to the subtitling technique prove useful for isolating particular pragmatic elements and examining their function in the achievement of the overall communicative goal. The analysis focuses on various forms of address, which are examined in terms of the pragmatic notions of 'power' and 'solidarity'. The approach is a descriptive one, applying the theoretical framework and analytical tools adopted from Hatim and Mason (1990 and 1997) and Mason (1989).
The article explores the strategies for avoiding offensive language in the Slovenian subtitles of 50 English-language films. The analysis encompassed all examples of strong language in each of the films and established that almost half of the more than 4000 instances of such language were not preserved in Slovenian. Profanity was avoided more often in films that made more frequent use of it. In less than one-fifth of the instances were there objective reasons for omitting it; the remaining instances can be regarded as (self-)censorship. On a few occasions, offensive language also appears to have been lost in translation because translators failed to grasp the connotative meaning of the original terms. Four strategies for avoiding offensive language were identified: the most frequently employed strategy was deletion, followed by modulation of register, while the strategies substitution with a pronoun and radical change of meaning were used far less often. Furthermore, the study has shown that avoiding offensive language may cause certain shifts on the macrostructural level of a film, i.e. alter the audience's understanding of the plot, the characterization, the perception of relationships between characters, etc.
The following article is based on a study into the reception of subtitled song lyrics in audiovisual translation. The study involved nine musicals subtitled into Polish and screened at a recurring cultural event every two weeks over a span of eight months. After each screening, a survey was distributed to investigate the perception of the target text: whether the audience could spot if the subtitles rhymed and respected the original rhythm, and whether the presence of rhymes and rhythm in song subtitles influenced audience satisfaction. The total number of songs tested was 88, and the total number of distributed surveys was 209. The results showed that the viewers were unable to recognize the presence or absence of the musical match – they tended to respond that the subtitles matched the music regardless whether the actual musical match of the translation was 70% or 5%. A high percentage of the surveys (40%) showed lack of attention towards the presence of rhymes. The responses of those who declared that they paid attention to rhymes were somewhat correct. Lastly, the results showed that the presence of the musical match and rhymes has little or no effect on the satisfaction with the subtitles.
Speech technology has made it possible to use speech recognition for the simultaneous subtitling of live television broadcasts using the technique of respeaking. Analyses show that live subtitles, like pre-recorded subtitles, are nearly always a reduced form of the spoken comments. However, the live-subtitling process in itself may have an effect on the reduction strategies used by live subtitlers. The aim of this study is to gain a better understanding of the causes and consequences of quantitative text reduction in live subtitling. Three excerpts of an infotainment talk show were subtitled by twelve respeakers of the Flemish public television channel, VRT. They were instructed to complete the task using three different reduction conditions. Various subtitle features, such as reduction percentages and delay, as well as measures of the respeakers’ working memory were collected. In a hierarchical multilevel analysis we defined which external factors affect the degree of reduction. The results show that reduction is not a random process. In contrast, its occurrence and form are largely determined by a number of external factors, viz. delay, amount of source text and the proportion of ‘full’ deletions. A large volume of evidence suggests that respeakers opt to omit certain comments rather than reducing them. It also appears that the decision to delete a comment seems not to be primarily based on the amount of input, while the decision to reduce partially is.