Volume 30, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0924-1884
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9986
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes


Despite the claims regarding the potential disruptiveness of subtitling for audiovisual processing, existing empirical evidence supports the idea that subtitle processing is semi-automatic and cognitively effective, and that, in moderately complex viewing scenarios, dubbing does not necessarily help viewers. In this paper we appraise whether the complexity of the translated audiovisual material matters for the cognitive and evaluative reception of subtitled vs. dubbed audiovisual material. To this aim, we present the results of two studies on the viewers’ reception of film translation (dubbing vs. subtitling), in which we investigate the cognitive and evaluative consequences of audiovisual complexity. In Study 1, the results show that a moderately complex film is processed effectively and is enjoyed irrespective of the translation method. In Study 2, the subtitling (vs. dubbing) of a more complex film leads to more effortful processing and lower cognitive performance, but not to a lessened appreciation. These results expose the boundaries of subtitle processing, which are reached only when the audiovisual material to be processed is complex, and they encourage scholars and practitioners to reconsider old standards as well as to invest more effort in crafting diverse types of audiovisual translations tailored both to the degree of complexity of the source product and to the individual differences of the target viewers.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Barsam, Richard
    2007Looking at Movies. An Introduction to Film. New York: Norton & Company.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Carpenter, Patricia A. , Marcel Adam Just , and Peter Shell
    1990 “What One Intelligence Test Measures: A Theoretical Account of the Processing in the Raven Progressive Matrices Test.” Psychological Review97: 404–431. doi: 10.1037/0033‑295X.97.3.404
    https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.97.3.404 [Google Scholar]
  3. Cary, Edmond
    1960 “La traduction totale.” Babel6 (3): 110–115. doi: 10.1075/babel.6.3.02car
    https://doi.org/10.1075/babel.6.3.02car [Google Scholar]
  4. Chiaro, Delia
    2009 “Issues in Audiovisual Translation.” InThe Routledge Companion to Translation Studies, edited by Jeremy Munday , 141–165. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Chaume, Frederic
    2013 “The Turn of Audiovisual Translation. New Audiences and New Technologies.” Translation Spaces2: 105–123. doi: 10.1075/ts.2.06cha
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ts.2.06cha [Google Scholar]
  6. Danan, Martine
    1991 “Dubbing as an Expression of Nationalism.” Meta36 (4): 606–614. doi: 10.7202/002446ar
    https://doi.org/10.7202/002446ar [Google Scholar]
  7. Díaz Cintas, Jorge
    2001La traducción audiovisual: El subtitulado. Salamanca: Ediciones Almar.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Drew, Dan G. , and Thomas Grimes
    1987 “Audio-Visual Redundancy and TV News Recall.” Communication Research14 (4): 452–461. doi: 10.1177/009365087014004005
    https://doi.org/10.1177/009365087014004005 [Google Scholar]
  9. d’Ydewalle, Géry , Johan Van Rensbergen , and Joris Pollet
    1987 “Reading a Message when the Same Message is Available Auditorily in Another Language: The Case of Subtitling.” InEye Movements: From Psychology to Cognition, edited by J. Kevin O’Regan and Ariane Lévy-Schoen , 313–321. Amsterdam: Elsevier Science. doi: 10.1016/B978‑0‑444‑70113‑8.50047‑3
    https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-444-70113-8.50047-3 [Google Scholar]
  10. d’Ydewalle, Géry , and Johan Van Rensbergen
    1989 “Developmental Studies of Text-Picture Interactions in the Perception of Animated Cartoons with Text.” InKnowledge Acquisition from Text and Pictures, edited by Heinz Mandl and Joel R. Levin , 233–248. Amsterdam: Elsevier Science. doi: 10.1016/S0166‑4115(08)62157‑3
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0166-4115(08)62157-3 [Google Scholar]
  11. d’Ydewalle, Géry , and Ingrid Gielen
    1992 “Attention Allocation with Overlapping Sound, Image, and Text.” InEye Movements and Visual Cognition: Scene Perception and Reading, edited by Keith Rayner , 415–427. New York: Springer-Verlag. doi: 10.1007/978‑1‑4612‑2852‑3_25
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4612-2852-3_25 [Google Scholar]
  12. d’Ydewalle, Géry , and Wim De Bruycker
    2007 “Eye Movements of Children and Adults while Reading Television Subtitles.” European Psychologist12: 196–205. doi: 10.1027/1016‑9040.12.3.196
    https://doi.org/10.1027/1016-9040.12.3.196 [Google Scholar]
  13. fsoesch
    fsoesch 2013 (May, 11) “Analyzing TV Series and Their Narrative Complexity.” Final Report. https://allabouttvseries.wordpress.com/
  14. Ghia, Elisa
    2012Subtitling Matters. New Perspectives on Subtitling and Foreign Language Learning. Oxford: Peter Lang. doi: 10.3726/978‑3‑0353‑0390‑2
    https://doi.org/10.3726/978-3-0353-0390-2 [Google Scholar]
  15. Gottlieb, Henrik
    1994 “Subtitling: People Translating People.” InTeaching Translation and Interpreting 2: Insights, Aims, Visions, edited by Cay Dollerup and Anne Lindegaard , 261–274. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi: 10.1075/btl.5.37got
    https://doi.org/10.1075/btl.5.37got [Google Scholar]
  16. 2004 “Language-Political Implications of Subtitling.” InTopics in Audiovisual Translation, edited by Pilar Orero , 83–100. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi: 10.1075/btl.56.11got
    https://doi.org/10.1075/btl.56.11got [Google Scholar]
  17. Grimes, Tom
    1991 “Mild Auditory-Visual Dissonance in Television News May Exceed Viewer Attentional Capacity.” Human Communication Research18 (2): 268–298. doi: 10.1111/j.1468‑2958.1991.tb00546.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2958.1991.tb00546.x [Google Scholar]
  18. Hinkin, Michael P. , Richard J. Harris , and Andrew T. Miranda
    2014 “Verbal Redundancy Aids Memory for Filmed Entertainment Dialogue.” The Journal of Psychology148 (2): 161–176. doi: 10.1080/00223980.2013.767774
    https://doi.org/10.1080/00223980.2013.767774 [Google Scholar]
  19. Kilborn, Richard
    1993 “‘Speak My Language’. Current Attitudes to Television Subtitling and Dubbing.” Media, Culture and Society15 (4): 641–660. doi: 10.1177/016344393015004007
    https://doi.org/10.1177/016344393015004007 [Google Scholar]
  20. Klein, Richard A. , et al.
    2014 “Investigating Variation in Replicability: A ‘Many Labs’ Replication Project.” Social Psychology45 (3): 142–152. doi: 10.1027/1864‑9335/a000178
    https://doi.org/10.1027/1864-9335/a000178 [Google Scholar]
  21. Koolstra, Cees M. , Allerd L. Peeters , and Herman Spinhof
    2002 “The Pros and Cons of Dubbing and Subtitling.” European Journal of Communication17 (3): 325–354. doi: 10.1177/0267323102017003694
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0267323102017003694 [Google Scholar]
  22. Kothari, Brij , and Tathagata Bandyopadhyay
    2014 “Same Language Subtitling of Bollywood Film Songs on TV: Effects on Literacy.” Information Technologies & International Development10 (4): 31–47.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Kruger, Jan-Louis , Esté Hefer , and Gordon Matthew
    2014 “Attention Distribution and Cognitive Load in a Subtitled Academic Lecture: L1 vs. L2.” Journal of Eye Movement Research7 (5): 1–15.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Lang, Annie
    1995 “Defining Audio/Video Redundancy from a Limited-Capacity Information Processing Perspective.” Communication Research22 (1): 86–115. doi: 10.1177/009365095022001004
    https://doi.org/10.1177/009365095022001004 [Google Scholar]
  25. 2000 “The Limited Capacity Model of Mediated Message Processing.” Journal of Communication50 (1): 46–70. doi: 10.1111/j.1460‑2466.2000.tb02833.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.2000.tb02833.x [Google Scholar]
  26. Lang, Annie , Seth Geiger , Melody Strickwerda , and Janine Sumner
    1993 “The Effects of Related and Unrelated Cuts on Television Viewers’ Attention, Processing Capacity, and Memory.” Communication Research20 (1): 4–29. doi: 10.1177/009365093020001001
    https://doi.org/10.1177/009365093020001001 [Google Scholar]
  27. Lang, Annie , Paul Bolls , Robert F. Potter , and Karlynn Kawahara
    1999 “The Effects of Production Pacing and Arousing Content on the Information Processing of Television Messages.” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media43 (4): 451–475. doi: 10.1080/08838159909364504
    https://doi.org/10.1080/08838159909364504 [Google Scholar]
  28. Lang, Annie , Shuhua Zhou , Nancy Schwartz , Paul Bolls , and Robert F. Potter
    2000 “The Effects of Edits on Arousal, Attention, and Memory for Television Messages: When an Edit is an Edit Can an Edit be Too Much?” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media44 (1): 94–109. doi: 10.1207/s15506878jobem4401_7
    https://doi.org/10.1207/s15506878jobem4401_7 [Google Scholar]
  29. Lang, Annie , Satoko Kurita , Ya Gao , and Bridget Rubenking
    2013 “Measuring Television Message Complexity as Available Processing Resources: Dimensions of Information and Cognitive Load.” Media Psychology16 (2): 129–153. doi: 10.1080/15213269.2013.764707
    https://doi.org/10.1080/15213269.2013.764707 [Google Scholar]
  30. Li, Yili
    2000 “Linguistic Characteristics of ESL Writing in Task-Based E-Mail Activities.” System28 (2): 229–245. doi: 10.1016/S0346‑251X(00)00009‑9
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0346-251X(00)00009-9 [Google Scholar]
  31. Lomheim, Sylfest
    1999 “The Writing on the Screen. Subtitling: A Case Study from Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), Oslo.” InWord, Text and Translation, edited by Gunilla Anderman and Margaret Rogers , 190–207. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Marleau, Lucien
    1982 “Les sous-titres … un mal nécessaire.” Meta27 (3): 271–285. doi: 10.7202/003577ar
    https://doi.org/10.7202/003577ar [Google Scholar]
  33. MCG (Media Consulting Group)
    MCG (Media Consulting Group) 2007Study on Dubbing and Subtitling Needs and Practices in the European Audiovisual Industry. Final report. European Commission, Directorate-General Education and Culture.
    [Google Scholar]
  34. MCG (Media Consulting Group)
    MCG (Media Consulting Group) 2011Study on the Use of Subtitling. The Potential of Subtitling to Encourage Foreign Language Learning and Improve the Mastery of Foreign Languages. Final report. European Commission, Directorate-General Education and Culture.
    [Google Scholar]
  35. Monaco, James
    2009How to Read a Film. Movie, Media and Beyond. 4th ed.Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  36. Murphy, John J.
    2007Me and You and Memento and Fargo. New York: Continuum.
    [Google Scholar]
  37. Orrego-Carmona, D.
    2015The Reception of (Non)Professional Subtitling. PhD diss.Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona.
    [Google Scholar]
  38. Pashler, Harold , and Eric-Jan Wagenmakers
    2012 “Editors’ Introduction to the Special Section on Replicability in Psychological Science: A Crisis of Confidence?” Perspectives on Psychological Science7 (6): 528–530. doi: 10.1177/1745691612465253
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691612465253 [Google Scholar]
  39. Pavesi, Maria
    2005La traduzione cinematografica. Roma: Carocci.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. Perego, Elisa , Fabio Del Missier , Marco Porta , and Mauro Mosconi
    2010 “The Cognitive Effectiveness of Subtitle Processing.” Media Psychology13 (3): 243–272. doi: 10.1080/15213269.2010.502873
    https://doi.org/10.1080/15213269.2010.502873 [Google Scholar]
  41. Perego, Elisa , Fabio Del Missier , and Sara Bottiroli
    2015 “Dubbing and Subtitling in Young and Older Adults: Cognitive and Evaluative Aspects.” Perspectives: Studies in Translatology23 (1): 1–21. doi: 10.1080/0907676X.2014.912343
    https://doi.org/10.1080/0907676X.2014.912343 [Google Scholar]
  42. Perego, Elisa , David Orrego-Carmona , and Sara Bottiroli
    2016 “An Empirical Take on the Dubbing vs. Subtitling Debate: An Eye Movement Study.” Lingue e Linguaggi19: 255–274.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. Raven, John C.
    1995Manual for the Coloured Progressive Matrices (revised). Windsor: NFRE-Nelson.
    [Google Scholar]
  44. Reid, Helene
    1978 “Subtitling: The Intelligent Solution.” InTranslating, a Profession, edited by Paul A. Horguelin , 420–428. Paris: FIT.
    [Google Scholar]
  45. Scott, Mike
    2009Wordsmith Tools. London: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  46. Szmrecsányi, Benedikt M.
    2004 “On Operationalizing Syntactic Complexity.” InLe poids des mots. Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Textual Data Statistical Analysis, edited by Gérard Purnelle , Gérard Fairon , and Anne Dister , 1032–1038. Louvain-la-Neuve: Presses Universitaires de Louvain.
    [Google Scholar]
  47. Thurstone, Thelma Gwinn , and Louis Leon Thurstone
    1963Primary Mental Ability. Chicago, IL: Science Research Associates.
    [Google Scholar]
  48. Van de Poel, Marijke , and Géry d’Ydewalle
    2001 “Incidental Foreign-Language Acquisition by Children Watching Subtitled Television Programs.” In(Multi)Media Translation. Concepts, Practices, and Research, edited by Yves Gambier and Henrik Gottlieb , 259–273. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi: 10.1075/btl.34.30van
    https://doi.org/10.1075/btl.34.30van [Google Scholar]
  49. Vanderplank, Robert
    2010 “Déjà vu? A Decade of Research on Language Laboratories, Television and Video in Language Learning.” Language Teaching43 (1): 1–37. doi: 10.1017/S0261444809990267
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0261444809990267 [Google Scholar]
  50. Van Lommel, Sven , Annouschka Laenen , and Géry d’Ydewalle
    2006 “Foreign-Grammar Acquisition while Watching Subtitled Television Programmes.” British Journal of Educational Psychology76 (2): 243–258. doi: 10.1348/000709905X38946
    https://doi.org/10.1348/000709905X38946 [Google Scholar]
  51. Winke, Paula , Susan Gass , and Tetyana Sydorenko
    2013 “Factors Influencing the Use of Captions by Foreign Language Learners: An Eye-Tracking Study.” The Modern Language Journal97 (1): 254–275. doi: 10.1111/j.1540‑4781.2013.01432.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4781.2013.01432.x [Google Scholar]
  52. Wissmath, Bartholomäus , David Weibel , and Rudolf Groner
    2009 “Dubbing or Subtitling? Effects on Spatial Presence, Transportation, Flow, and Enjoyment.” Journal of Media Psychology21 (3): 114–125. doi: 10.1027/1864‑1105.21.3.114
    https://doi.org/10.1027/1864-1105.21.3.114 [Google Scholar]
  53. Wissmath, Bartholomäus , and David Weibel
    2012 “Translating Movies and the Sensation of ‘Being There’.” InEye Tracking in Audiovisual Translation, edited by Elisa Perego , 277–293. Roma: Aracne.
    [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error