Volume 2, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2542-5277
  • E-ISSN: 2542-5285
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



The most famous rule on the speed of subtitles is the six-second rule. In this study we investigate if the six-second rule is too slow for contemporary viewers. We also address the question of whether subtitle processing depends on the speech rate of film dialogues and on viewer’s proficiency in the language of the film soundtrack. With these questions in mind, we tested 53 Polish viewers watching English videos at two different speech rates (slow and fast), subtitled into Polish in accordance with the six-second rule. We examined participants’ reading patterns and comprehension and asked them to assess subtitle speed and the congruity of subtitles with the dialogue. Analysing people’s eye movements enabled us to measure that viewers were looking at subtitles for only about 30% of the subtitle display time. We found that the film speech rate affected comprehension: faster dialogues, implying more text condensation in subtitles, resulted in lower comprehension compared to slow speech rates. Viewers more proficient in the language of the film soundtrack spent less time gazing at subtitles than those who had only elementary knowledge of the language.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Ackerman, Phillip L., and Ruth Kanfer
    2009 Test Length and Cognitive Fatigue: An Empirical Examination of Effects on Performance and Test-Taker Reactions. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied15 (2): 163–181. doi:  10.1037/a0015719
    https://doi.org/10.1037/a0015719 [Google Scholar]
  2. Baker, Robert G., Andrew Lambourne, and Guy Rowston
    1984Handbook for Television Subtitlers. Winchester: Independent Broadcasting Authority.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Belczyk, Arkadiusz
    2007Tłumaczenie Filmów [Translation of films]. Wilkowice: Wydawnictwo Dla Szkoły.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Burnham, Denis, Greg Leigh, William Noble, Caroline Jones, Michael Tyler, Leonid Grebennikov, and Alex Varley
    2008 “Parameters in Television Captioning for Deaf and Hard-of-hearing Adults: Effects of Caption Rate versus Text Reduction on Comprehension.” Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education13 (3): 391–404. doi:  10.1093/deafed/enn003
    https://doi.org/10.1093/deafed/enn003 [Google Scholar]
  5. d’Ydewalle, Géry, and Wim De Bruycker
    2007 “Eye Movements of Children and Adults While Reading Television Subtitles.” European Psychologist12 (3): 196–205. doi:  10.1027/1016‑9040.12.3.196
    https://doi.org/10.1027/1016-9040.12.3.196 [Google Scholar]
  6. d’Ydewalle, Géry, Patrick Muylle, and Johan van Rensbergen
    1985 “Attention Shifts in Partially Redundant Information Situations.” InEye Movements and Human Information Processing. Edited byR. Groner, G. W. McConkie and Ch. Menz, 375–384. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. 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 physiology to cognition. Edited byJ. Kevin O’Regan and A. Levy-Schoen, 313–321. Amsterdam: Elsevier. 10.1016/B978‑0‑444‑70113‑8.50047‑3
    https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-444-70113-8.50047-3 [Google Scholar]
  8. De Linde, Zoé, and Neil Kay
    1999The Semiotics of Subtitling. Manchester: St. Jerome.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Díaz Cintas, Jorge
    2003 “Audiovisual Translation in the Third Millennium.” InTranslation Today: Trends and Perspectives. Edited byG. Anderman and M. Rogers, 192–204. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. 10.21832/9781853596179‑016
    https://doi.org/10.21832/9781853596179-016 [Google Scholar]
  10. Díaz Cintas, Jorge, and Aline Remael
    2007Audiovisual Translation: Subtitling. Manchester: St. Jerome.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Gerber Morón, Olivia, Agnieszka Szarkowska, and Bencie Woll
    2018 “The Impact of Text Segmentation on Subtitle Reading.” Journal of Eye Movement Research11 (4): 1–18. doi: 10.16910/jemr.11.4.2
    https://doi.org/10.16910/jemr.11.4.2 [Google Scholar]
  12. González-Iglesias González, J. David
    2011 “Análisis diacrónico de la velocidad de presentación de subtítulos para DVD.” Trans: Revista de Traductología15: 211–218. 10.24310/TRANS.2011.v0i15.3204
    https://doi.org/10.24310/TRANS.2011.v0i15.3204 [Google Scholar]
  13. Holmqvist, Kenneth, Marcus Nyström, Richard Andersson, Richard Dewhurst, Halszka Jarodzka, and Joost van de Weijer
    2011Eye Tracking: A Comprehensive Guide to Methods and Measures. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Ivarsson, Jan, and Mary Carroll
    1998Subtitling. Simrishamn: TransEdit HB.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Jensema, Carl
    1998 “Viewer Reaction to Different Television Captioning Speeds.” American Annals of the Deaf143 (4): 318–324. 10.1353/aad.2012.0073
    https://doi.org/10.1353/aad.2012.0073 [Google Scholar]
  16. Jensema, Carl, and Robert Burch
    1999 “Caption Speed and Viewer Comprehension of Television Programs. Final Report.” Washington, DC. Accessed7 November 2018. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED434446
  17. Jensema, Carl, Ramalinga Sarma Danturthi, and Robert Burch
    2000 “Time Spent Viewing Captions on Television Programs.” American Annals of the Deaf145 (5): 464–468. 10.1353/aad.2012.0144
    https://doi.org/10.1353/aad.2012.0144 [Google Scholar]
  18. Jensema, Carl, Sameh El Sharkawy, Ramalinga Sarma Danturthi, Robert Burch, and David Hsu
    2000 “Eye Movement Patterns of Captioned Television Viewers.” American Annals of the Deaf145 (3): 275–285. 10.1353/aad.2012.0093
    https://doi.org/10.1353/aad.2012.0093 [Google Scholar]
  19. Karamitroglou, Fotios
    1998 “A Proposed Set of Subtitling Standards in Europe.” Translation Journal2 (2).
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Koolstra, Cees M., Tom H. A. Van Der Voort, and Gery d’Ydewalle
    1999 “Lengthening the Presentation Time of Subtitles on Television: Effects on Children’s Reading Time and Recognition.” Communications24 (4): 407–422. doi:  10.1515/comm.1999.24.4.407
    https://doi.org/10.1515/comm.1999.24.4.407 [Google Scholar]
  21. Krejtz, Izabela, Agnieszka Szarkowska, and Krzysztof Krejtz
    2013 “The Effects of Shot Changes on Eye Movements in Subtitling.” Journal of Eye Movement Research6 (5: 3): 1–12. doi:  10.16910/jemr.6.5.3
    https://doi.org/10.16910/jemr.6.5.3 [Google Scholar]
  22. Łuczak, Krzysztof
    2017 “The Effects of the Language of the Soundtrack on Film Comprehension, Cognitive Load and Subtitle Reading Patterns. An Eye-tracking Study.” Master’s Thesis, University of Warsaw.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Martí Ferriol, José Luis
    2013 “Subtitle Reading Speeds in Different Languages: The Case of Lethal Weapon.” Quaderns: Revista de traducció (20): 201–210.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Matamala, Anna, Perego, Elisa, and Bottiroli, Sara
    2017 “Dubbing versus Subtitling Yet Again?” Babel63(3): 423–441. doi:  10.1075/babel.63.3.07mat
    https://doi.org/10.1075/babel.63.3.07mat [Google Scholar]
  25. Miquel Iriarte, M.
    2017The Reception of Subtitling for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Viewers’ Hearing and Communication Profile & Subtitling Speed of Exposure. PhD Thesis, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Moran, Siobhan
    2012 “The Effect of Linguistic Variation on Subtitle Reception.” InEye Tracking in Audiovisual Translation. Edited byElisa Perego, 183–222. Rome: Aracne Editrice.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Muylaert, Willem, Johan Nootens, Daniel Poesmans, and A. K. Pugh
    1983 “Design and Utilisation of Subtitles on Foreign Language Television Programmes.” InTheorie, Methoden and Modelle der Kontaktlinguistik. Edited byP. H. Nelde, 201–214. Bonn: Dummler.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Netflix
    Netflix 2016 “Timed Text Style Guide: General Requirements.” Accessed6 November 2018. https://partnerhelp.netflixstudios.com/hc/en-us/articles/215758617-Timed-Text-Style-Guide-General-Requirements
  29. Neves, Joselia
    2008 “Ten Fallacies about Subtitling for the d/Deaf and the Hard of Hearing.” Journal of Specialised Translation10: 128–143.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Pedersen, Jan
    2011Subtitling Norms for Television. An Exploration Focussing on Extralinguistic Cultural References. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/btl.98
    https://doi.org/10.1075/btl.98 [Google Scholar]
  31. 2018 From old tricks to Netflix: How local are interlingual subtitling norms for streamed television?Journal of Audiovisual Translation1 (1): 81–100. www.jatjournal.org/index.php/jat/article/view/46/5
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Perego, Elisa, Monika Laskowska, Anna Matamala, Aline Remael, Isabelle S. Robert, Agnieszka Szarkowska, Anna Vilaró, and Silvia Bottiroli
    2016a “Is Subtitling Equally Effective Everywhere? A First Cross-national Study on the Reception of Interlingually Subtitled Messages.” Across Languages and Cultures17 (2): 205–229. doi:  10.1556/084.2016.17.2.4
    https://doi.org/10.1556/084.2016.17.2.4 [Google Scholar]
  33. Perego, Elisa, David Orrego Carmona, and Sara Bottiroli
    2016b “An Empirical Take on the Dubbing vs. Subtitling Debate. An Eye Movement Study.” Lingue e Linguaggi, 19. doi: 10.1285/i22390359v19p255
    https://doi.org/10.1285/i22390359v19p255 [Google Scholar]
  34. Perego, Elisa, Fabio Del Missier, and Marta Stragà
    2018 “Dubbing vs. Subtitling. Complexity Matters.” Target30 (1): 137–157. doi:  10.1075/target.16083.per
    https://doi.org/10.1075/target.16083.per [Google Scholar]
  35. Romero Fresco, Pablo
    2009 “More Haste less Speed: Edited versus Verbatim Respoken Subtitles.” Vigo International Journal of Applied Linguistics6: 109–133.
    [Google Scholar]
  36. 2015The Reception of Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Europe: UK, Spain, Italy, Poland, Denmark, France and Germany. Bern: Peter Lang.
    [Google Scholar]
  37. Szarkowska, Agnieszka
    2016Report on the Results of an Online Survey on Subtitle Presentation Times and Line Breaks in Interlingual Subtitling. Part 1: Subtitlers. London: University College London. Accessed6 November 2018. avt.ils.uw.edu.pl/files/2016/10/SURE_Report_Survey1.pdf
    [Google Scholar]
  38. Szarkowska, Agnieszka and Lidia Bogucka
    2018 Six-Second Rule Revisited Project Dataset. RepOD. doi: 10.18150/repod.5212858
    https://doi.org/10.18150/repod.5212858 [Google Scholar]
  39. Szarkowska, Agnieszka, and Olivia Gerber Morón
    2018 “Viewers Can Keep up with Fast Subtitles: Evidence from Eye Movements.” Plos One13 (6). doi:  10.1371/journal.pone.0199331
    https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0199331 [Google Scholar]
  40. Szarkowska, Agnieszka, Izabela Krejtz, Zuzanna Kłyszejko, and Anna Wieczorek
    2011 “Verbatim, Standard, or Edited? Reading Patterns of Different Captioning Styles among Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Hearing Viewers.” American Annals of the Deaf156 (4): 363–378. 10.1353/aad.2011.0039
    https://doi.org/10.1353/aad.2011.0039 [Google Scholar]
  41. Szarkowska, Agnieszka, Izabela Krejtz, Olga Pilipczuk, Łukasz Dutka, and Jan-Louis Kruger
    2016 “The Effects of Text Editing and Subtitle Presentation Rate on the Comprehension and Reading Patterns of Interlingual and Intralingual Subtitles among Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Hearing Viewers.” Across Languages and Cultures17 (2): 183–204. doi:  10.1556/084.2016.17.2.3
    https://doi.org/10.1556/084.2016.17.2.3 [Google Scholar]
  42. TED
    TED 2017English Style Guide. Accessed5 November 2018. translations.ted.org/wiki/English_Style_Guide
    [Google Scholar]
  43. Tveit, Jan Emil
    2004Translating for Television. A Handbook in Screen Translation. Bergen: JK Publishing.
    [Google Scholar]
  44. Tyler, Michael D., Caroline Jones, Leonid Grebennikov, Greg Leigh, William Noble, and Denis Burnham
    2013 “Effect of Caption Rate on the Comprehension of Educational Television Programmes by Deaf School Students.” Deafness & Education International11 (3): 152–162. doi:  10.1179/146431509790559606
    https://doi.org/10.1179/146431509790559606 [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