Pros And Cons Of Both Dubbing And Subtitling In Translation


The DubbingKing Software - A Comprehensive Audio-Visual Translation (AVT) Software For Windows

The Dubbing King software caters for various Audio-Visual Translation (AVT) modes. It is used for subtitling, translation and the dubbing processes.


Overview Of Dubbing And Subtitling

Dubbing and subtitling in totality have been a controversial issue for more years than I and you can count. In my research work trying to get a clear understanding of audiovisual translation, I’ll be able to outline some pros and cons of each technique so you can get a clear understanding of the two.

Dubbing and Subtitling

What is the difference between dubbing and subtitling?

Subtitles in a layman’s language is a form of abbreviated version of a dialogue which is projected on a screen for easy comprehension on the audience side and as for dubbing, it comprises an alternate, synchronized soundtrack of the complete dialogue in a film or any video format. 

Where and When is Dubbing and\or Subtitling used in Film Production?

Both techniques are used in different countries, but some countries prefer one over the other.  There are particular aspects of different countries that make them prefer subtitles over dubbing and vice versa and that is different cultural backgrounds, ideological clashes, and linguistical practices. Dubbing is used more for programs with small children as the target audience because they are not in a position to read and comprehend subtitles or cannot read as fast as possible and follow through with the subtitles.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of using Dubbing and Subtitling in Audio-Visual Translation?

Below I outline a series of advantages and disadvantages of these two techniques while still comparing their similarities to outline it for those of you who would like to stop getting confused when the words subtitling and dubbing are mentioned.

Advantages of Dubbing As An AVT (Audio-Visual Translation) Technique

  • When it comes to film censorship, dubbing is generally favored, this is made by the art of synchronization where if one is not keen enough on reading a character’s lips on the main version of the film before it’s dubbed they have a lower chance of understanding what exactly was said. This happened in Spain under Franco’s dictatorship, which stopped original film versions from being aired with subtitles, which were transcribed exactly like the original film, to promote and convey high moral standards in the film industry.
  • In dubbing no abbreviation is needed for the dialogues because in theory there is no limit of space, however, the writer of a dubbed script will have to pay attention to the movements of the lips and synchronization.
  • Viewers can focus more on the images and the words while enjoying the film at the same time unlike with subtitled versions it’s more of trying to read the wordings rather than enjoying the film and following the story in its entirety.

Disadvantages of Dubbing As An AVT (Audio-Visual Translation) Technique

  • Synchronization is the main thing that needs to be taken in account when it comes to dubbing, this means that the writer of the dubbing script has no freedom to add or erase words, on the contrary, the script words have to be enough and still carry the same meaning as the original version which is being dubbed. This only means that he/she has to strictly follow what appears on the screen, and the dubbed script dialogue should fit the lip movements of the actors.
  • Regardless of how perfect the synchronization is, dubbing only creates an illusion of an illusion, even when the lip movements of the actors are in line with the voice in the translated version. This only means that getting a perfectly synchronized dub is next to impossible, as one-to-one substitutions are uncommon. For instance, one word in a particular language would be two words in another language and meaning the same thing. A great example would be a word like Thank you in English is Obrigada in Portuguese, which cuts out one-on-one substitutions.
  • Dubbing is expensive as compared to subtitling a movie. Dubbing can be up to 15 times more expensive because cast voice-over artists need to be hired, sound engineers, recording material and so on and so forth whereas for subtitling it’s a single individual needed to carry out the whole job.
  • For avid film watchers, dubbing can become very annoying and boring when production houses use the same cast talent in different movies. It becomes redundant and boring.
  • Unlike subtitling which is a process that can take as less time as possible depending on the speed, dubbing is a slow and difficult process it’s not as simple as rendering word into another language it takes a lot of technical steps behind the scene before it comes out as a complete product.
  • Being a native speaker of a certain language and finding yourself in a certain country where films are simply dubbed might frustrate most people who love unwinding with a good film after a long day.

Advantages of Subtitling As An AVT (Audio-Visual Translation) Technique

  • Subtitling is far less expensive than dubbing, this is why most countries prefer using subtitles over dubbing and it goes without mention that voice-overs, where both voices from the original and the translated versions are heard, is way cheaper than dubbing or subtitling so some countries also prefer that as an option such as Russia and Poland.
  • Some countries have realized that listening to the original dialogue has made it easier for viewers to improve their language skills over the years. Research work has been done and the results have really shown clearly that most people who prefer subtitles over dubbing and listen to the original version of dialogue have better listening and comprehension skills than the vice versa. This is one thing that the Scandinavian countries take pride in.
  • With subtitling everything on the original film stays intact and which means voices of the original actors stay in place.
  • With Subtitles it’s easy to read and understand what the original dialogue is about in case one cannot understand the accents being used on a particular film without straining.
  • It’s easy to learn new languages and access other cultures across the globe while still following through easily while enjoying the storyline of a film.
  • Subtitles provide clarity and a great understanding of technical terminologies, full names and brand names which gives the viewer an easy time while watching the movie.
  • Many people with learning disabilities like attention deficits and autism are provided with a better experience when watching films with subtitles.
  • Subtitling is actually the cheapest and easiest way of introducing translation to film because it doesn’t really need a lot of workforces and it’s very convenient for someone interested in translating a film but on a low budget.
  • Subtitling is also the fastest way to adapt films into target culture languages from the comfort of their homes and using basic home equipment, and that’s why most are usually illegally copied films.
  • When subtitles are done in one’s native language, then it is easy to understand the context of the whole film if the original dialogues are in a language that one is not 100% conversant to.

Disadvantages of Subtitling As An AVT (Audio-Visual Translation) Technique

  • Most time the audience doesn’t concentrate on the images which are the sole purpose of watching a film, rather they pay more attention to trying to read the translated text which is the subtitles. They always ignore the sound, the movie set or the characters.
  • For someone who doesn’t enjoy being distracted when enjoying a film, subtitles that come already embedded in a film without the option of removing them always infuriate those viewers who care less for subtitles, some might even forego the film and not watch it.
  • Poorly done subtitles always bring about confusion in meaning when in comparison with the original audio which doesn’t make the movie as interesting.
  • Most times than not, subtitles get criticized for omitting the original elements of the original dialogue.
  • It’s hard to detect mistakes on a subtitled film, making it even harder to improve them.

In conclusion, one can say that neither dubbing nor subtitling is a perfect model of audiovisual translation. Both of them have pros and cons depending on the preferences of the person using them. None is important over the other, but both are important in different circumstances. However, dubbing has to not only follow the written text but also articulation and gesture, mood and expressions and also the soul of the words so it should be placed at the top of the pyramid and be number one as the best form of audio translation.

For both the techniques before work begins it is advisable that the translator needs to have a deeper understanding of the source of the text and find out whether it’s for dubbing or subtitling before he starts anything. This implies analyzing the text sequence by sequence and watching the movie at least twice. Some authors even argue that it takes months for the target version to be original. Yet, the translator always has to rush so that the target version is released in due time.

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