Subtitling of English Movies

Subtitling or captioning is the insertion of a text path with translated information into an original video file. The main rule of this process is to streamline the text, because the English and Russian languages have different letter and sound compositions, which results in different number of characters almost in all phrases. It implies that a translator must use different transformations and omit semantically unimportant sentence parts in order to place the translated text within the timeframe of a visual image.

Europe has even witnessed a creation of the standardized subtitling system that is to unify the subtitling appearance, which will lead to its easier comprehension by a recipient. So, subtitles or captions must be placed at a bottom of the screen in segments made from two lines, no more than 35 characters in each. A greater number of characters causes smaller font that is very difficult to see and read on the screen.

In connection to this, here we can state two groups of difficulties that will always be faced by any translator dealing with subtitling:

1. limited space on the screen, which was described earlier;

2. inextricable connection of subtitles with a changeable visual imagery of the movie, which forces a translator shorten the text, that have already been reduced.

In general, the subtitles are classified according to their degree of detail. They usually reflect only actors’ speech. Sometimes there is also the need to translate inscriptions that have important meaning for the whole movie. Also, we must not forget that subtitles or captions can be used not only by people who learn foreign languages, but also by those with deaf and hard of hearing. Then subtitling lines contain also sounds or melodies that have particular psychological influence upon the audience. For example, these subtitles will have such phrases as “howl of a wolf” or “gunshots”.

Subtitling or captioning has its own advantages:

1. cheap costs;

2. high processing speed;

3. preservation of the original dialogue track in order to render the initial purposes of an author;

4. educative function.

Apart from everything mentioned above, this kind of audiovisual translation has its disadvantages:

1. a necessity to divert attention away from the visual image to read the translated text;

2. text compression that leads to loss of the original sense.

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