The word subtitle is made up of the prefix sub (“under, beneath” in Latin) and the root word title (from the Latin titulus, “inscription or label”). The English bibliographer Thoms F. Dibdin used the term for the Bibliotheca Spenceriana in 1814 to refer to a subheading. One year later, in January 1815, it was used in The European Magazine and London Review with the meaning of a supplementary or explanatory title to the main title of a work.
In Europe, a distinction is made between the terms subtitles (which involve language transfer and are not necessarily accessible for people with hearing loss) and subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing (SDH) or inclusive subtitles. The latter may or not involve language transfer and are accessible for people with hearing loss and for anyone who may not have full access to the soundtrack. In countries such as the US, Canada and Australia, the term caption is used to refer to SDH or inclusive subtitles, whereas the word subtitle is kept for interlingual subtitles.
Subtitling is an audiovisual translation modality. It consists of a written text, typically displayed at the bottom of the screen, which aims to recount the original dialogue of the speakers, the discursive elements that appear in the image and information contained on the soundtrack, such as songs, voices off, etc. (Díaz & Remael 2008). Introduced with the arrival of sound films at the end of the 1920s, subtitling may be regarded as an adaptation of the intertitles used in silent films (Kapsaskis 2019).
This entry includes, firstly, an account of the main features of subtitling and of some of its most common constraints. In an attempt to avoid considering subtitling a mere succession of rules and guidelines to be applied by professional subtitlers, subsequent sections focus on the impact that subtitles have on the spectators’ viewing experience regarding three specific aspects: subtitling speed, the visual momentum and subtitling blindness. Finally, as a potential solution to solve some of the issues raised in this entry, the final section deals with accessible filmmaking, a new approach to audiovisual translation in general and to subtitling in particular that aims to integrate translation and/or accessibility (in this case, subtitling) during the production of audiovisual media through the collaboration between the creative team and the translator in order to preserve the filmmaker’s original vision.
|Pablo Romero Fresco|
|Romero Fresco, Pablo. 2022. "Subtitling" @ ENTI (Encyclopedia of translation & interpreting). AIETI.|