Subtitles are textual versions of the dialog in films and television programs, usually displayed at the bottom of the screen. They can either be a form of written translation of a dialog in a foreign language, or a written rendering of the dialog in the same language, with or without added information to help viewers who are deaf and hard-of-hearing to follow the dialog. Television teletext subtitles, which are hidden unless requested by the viewer from a menu or by selecting the relevant teletext page (e.g. p888), always carry additional sound representations for deaf and hard of hearing viewers. Teletext subtitle language follows the original audio, except in multi-lingual countries where the broadcaster may provide subtitles in additional languages on other teletext pages.
Sometimes, mainly at film festivals, subtitles may be shown on a separate display below the screen, thus saving the film-maker from creating a subtitled copy for perhaps just one showing. Television subtitling for the deaf and hard-of-hearing is closed captioning.
Words such as “Mum/Mom”, “arse/ass” and “pyjamas/pajamas” are spelled not according to the country the subtitles were created, but according to the accent of the person speaking. For example, even American subtitles use “Mum”, “arse” and “pyjamas” if the person is speaking in a British accent, and even British subtitles use “Mom”, “ass” and “pajamas” if the person is speaking in an American accent.
New technology and research
Esist is a non-profit organization which has members interested in research for subtitling.
Media Movers, Inc. has developed proprietary software which renders automated timing (spotting) for audio/video content. They are also in research for “automated translation” for multiple languages for any content.
TM Systems received Emmy awards in 2002 and 2007 for their dubbing and subtitling software.