What’s What in Media Localization

In the last Nimdzi Finger Food post of this series, we talked about subtitling. And one of the categories that we discussed were intralingual subtitles, that is, subtitles that are written in the same language that is being spoken in the audiovisual content.

When we talk about intralingual subtitles, what immediately comes to mind are subtitles for viewers with hearing impairments.

In this case, the terminology varies between territories. In Europe, we usually talk about subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing (shortened as  SDH or SDHH). In the US and Canada,  the most common term is closed captions (shortened as CC).

This type of subtitles is mainly aimed at viewers with hearing impairments. Some extra information is included, apart from the dialogues, in order to improve accessibility:

  • Character identification: different methods are used to convey this information, depending on the country. For example, color identification (one color for each main character), use of placement (the subtitles are placed close to the character speaking depending if they are positioned to the left or to the right of the screen), or use of name tags (a name tag is included right before the subtitle). 
  • Sound information: sound information that is relevant to the plot must also be conveyed in this type of subtitles. For example, a door shuts, a dog barks, someone is screaming, etc.
  • Paralinguistic information: this information conveys voice aspects that cannot be inferred from the image. For example, if someone is speaking ironically or if they have an accent.

What terminology are online platforms using?

YouTube

The button is called CC (closed captions) for any type of subtitles.

Netflix

The section is called “subtitles” and they specified if they are aimed at viewers with hearing impairments including CC together with the language.

Prime Video

Same approach as Netflix.

HBO

HBO uses subtitles but they don’t specify whether the original English subtitles are closed captions or not.

We would advise using “subtitles” when we refer to interlingual subtitles and “SDH” or “CC” when we refer to subtitles that include features aimed at viewers with hearing impairments.

Forecast of Netflix international subscriber growth. Source: Statista

Taking a look at how international markets for online audiovisual content are growing, it is key that we understand how the different media localization modes work and which are the best for our target audiences.

Make sure to check out parts 1, 2 and 3 of our Nimdzi Finger Food series on What’s What in Media Localization.

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