Spoken Word to Written Text

Roger Hillman

in The Oxford Handbook of Translation Studies

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199239306
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

Spoken Word to Written Text

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  • Linguistics
  • Translation and Interpretation



This article describes the history of the development of subtitling, from the era of silent movies to its recent development. Subtitles mainly convey dialogue. Not completely congruent with dialogue, subtitles can also apply to other forms of information within the frame e.g. graffiti or else lyrics present on the soundtrack. Among recent developments, subtitling (including intralingual subtitling) for the deaf and hearing impaired has generated considerable momentum as an ethical issue. Transnational tendencies have created new issues for subtitling and in particular for dubbing. The technical aspects of subtitling include screenspace, speed of dialogue; transfer to written language of a full speech act, and dubbing. Outside one's linguistic comfort zones, everyone is at the mercy of subtitles. Their position of power is that of a simultaneous interpreter, their technical structures more confining, and their equal responsibility towards both cultures.

Keywords: subtitling; silent movies; dubbing; screenspace; speed of dialogue; linguistic comfort zones

Article.  6394 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Translation and Interpretation

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