Whilst other methods of audio-visual translation are used – for instance in Poland voice-over translation is the traditional method – subtitling and dubbing are by far the most widely used techniques and when professional translators are used both can be extremely effective and allow for a film or television programme to resonate with foreign language speakers. However, both subtitling and dubbing have their detractors and are subject to criticism. Those with a disdain for dubbing usually cite shoddy synchronicity between audio and lips. Whilst those who hold scorn subtitling often make reference to the intrusions of screen space that can deter from a directors vision.
Here at The Language Club we believe that there are merits to both subtitling and dubbing and that decisions should be made on a case by case basis with consideration the genre, aesthetics and perhaps most importantly the intended audience.
It is important to consider the intended purpose of your piece. For example informative pieces such as news pieces may benefit from the mindfulness of subtitling. However, when used for a fast paces crime thriller or nuts and bolts action film, subtitles may struggle to keep up with the frenetic editing.
The aesthetics of a piece are also important to consider. A lot of thought is put into the composition of a film and any attempt to preserve a films ‘vision’ will surely be much appreciated by any director. Similarly, it can take upwards of dozens of takes to shoot the perfect delivery of a dramatic line, with just the right amount of emotion to induce tears and it can be incredibly difficult to get the desired effect with dubbed audio.
The true purpose of any film or television programme is for it to resonate with an audience therefore age, country and circumstance are all things that should be considered, For example; If your intended audience is young children then dubbing is perhaps the most suitable method, as they might find it difficult to keep up with the subtitles. As previously mentioned the country you are targeting is also an important consideration as different countries prefer different methods.
In Europe your viewing experience is determined largely by the country that you inhabit, for example in France, Germany, Italy, Russia and Spain Dubbing is the preferred method whilst Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Greece and the United Kingdom subtitling is more commonly used. This crucial decision between subtitling and dubbing was made at the advent of ‘the talkie’ in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. The choice between subtitling and dubbing was made mainly due to financial reasons, although it has been argued that the rise of nationalism in Italy, Spain, Germany and Russia contributed to the move towards dubbing as it was considered a way of strengthening national identity and exercising censorship.
Well we hope you have enjoyed reading our thoughts, we will continue to watch foreign films no matter which method of audio-visual translation is used!