Interlingual subtitles are what usually come to people’s minds when they hear the word ‘subtitles’. Think of them as translated subtitles – subtitles whose language differs from the language of the audiovisual content.
Audiovisual Content: more than speech
Speech is just one of the ways in which audiovisual content conveys meaning. Music, dramatic pauses, sound effects, iconography (images that have semantic significance), written information, types of shots, etc. all come into play as well. Meaning is constructed by the relationship established between these different elements.
The way that the audience interprets the audio and the visuals depends on the audience’s set of expectations. Since meaning is culturally bound, the audience in the target language might not be able to interpret all the non-verbal elements in the way that they were intended to be.
Localising on-screen text
In addition, with monolingual subtitles, text that appears on screen does not pose an obstacle for the viewer as it is normally in the same language as the audio/subtitles. However, this is not the case for interlingual subtitles and consequently, you need to deal with them.
There are two types of text that appear on the visuals:
- On-screen titles (OST): This is text which is superposed on the image. It is likely to have been added to the video as text.
- Graphics’ text: This is text which is embedded into the image. Since this text is part of an image, the only way to replace it will be with the intervention of a specialised artist.
Since replacing text can be so difficult, the most cost-effective way of translating on-screen text is using subtitles.
Interlingual subtitles have to take into account the same factors as monolingual subtitling. For example, they must consider character limits, reading speed, clarity, line breaks, shot changes, and general timing rules.