The Ever Increasingly Elusive Subtitles

In the evenings, I do tend to enjoy watching a film in order to unwind and the other night X-Men First Class was on TV. Can you spot what and where the error is and how long the subtitles froze for seeing Charles is on the ground, writhing in pain?

Photo by SJ (watermarked)

However, in the last few months I have noticed the quality and the quantity decreasing. My family also gets frustrated when the subtitles cover the translated in-vision captions whereas before, the subtitles did not cover the in-vision captions at all but now they do… increasingly.

the mummy 2
Subtitles covering the translation
Subtitles lagging AND covering the translations still.
Subtitles lagging AND covering the translations still.

Another more common error happening now is that the subtitles often lag and freeze – the context of subsequent dialogues bear no relation to what had been captioned. Alternatively, when a programme such as the News puts up the interviewee’s name – the subtitles are non-existent as not to cover the name. Should we miss out on reading someone’s name or what is being said which could turn out to be extremely vital?

What I do know is that subtitles contribute to the standards of English today not just for those who happen to be deaf but those learning English too, as a foreign language. As for in-vision signers? They too are vital for those who prefer the visual communication method yet some would prefer it if they used Signed Supported English (SSE) because the structure of BSL (British Sign Language) is rather basic and does not convey in full, the context, whereas SSE would be more correct in terms of translating from spoken English in the grammatical sense.

Subtitles have not always been around and unfortunately, in some countries, broadcasters have still not been able to include their viewers on an equal basis so that should make us appreciate what subtitles our broadcasters here, can manage. There was recently a call for subtitles to be added to digital media by the CEO of Action on Hearing Loss – I felt rather perplexed by a conversation that the said article produced because surely, higher on one’s list of priorities should be online news, especially “breaking news” etc, not mindless video games?! Go figure…

Rant over. 🙂

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

Update – Many thanks to Red Bee Media / Ericsson and Ofcom for taking heed 🙂