Dubbing or Subtitling: Which One is More Acceptable and Appropriate?
For translating films into foreign languages, both subtitling and dubbing are commonly used as techniques. Which one is more appropriate in a given situation?
People like to watch foreign television programmes and films, not only to get entertained but also to experience cultural diversity. However, due to language barriers, language foreign programmes and films have to be translated. There are common ways in order to understand foreign language television programmes or movies, such as learning a particular language, subtitling and dubbing.
Learning a foreign language is not that easy. It may be the most appropriate way in order to better understand the culture of a foreign language, however, it would take time to understand properly the social nuances of a foreign culture.
Understanding a foreign language film can also be obtained through subtitles. Subtitling is a field of audiovisual translation where the motion picture and original audio is still displayed but accompanied with text dialogue translated into the target language. Subtitling allows for an extremely accurate translation; through rendering the translated text and at the same time allowing the original audio language, it is more accessible to the deaf or hard of hearing people. In addition, subtitling is less expensive than dubbing and thus, perhaps, when it comes to foreign language films, subtitling is much more common and popular not only with film producers or the film industry but also with the audience who can benefit from good quality entertainment.
Dubbing, on the other hand, is the process of recording sounds and replacing original voices on a motion picture or television soundtrack. Thus, in dubbing, the pictures are unaltered but the soundtrack is mostly replaced or the original voice dialogues are substituted by stand-in actors’ voices, speaking the translated lines.
For many viewers, hearing actors speaking in their native language can help the audience get more involved and feel a sense of familiarity with the story and characters. Having said that, to be able to get good quality dubbed foreign language films or programmes, the labour involved in the dubbed production is serious and intensive. It involves hiring qualified and well-experienced foreign talents to ensure good and proper delivery of dialogue in every motion picture presented.
Thus, dubbing translation may be popular but can be very expensive.
In some countries in Latin America and Southeast Asia like the Philippines, local television network show dubbed foreign programmes but show cable television programmes usually with subtitles dialogue translation.
Surprisingly, foreign animated programmes usually usually dubbed universally. Why is that?
Traditionally speaking, dubbing is commonly used for animated programmes, since the majority of the audience of such programmes are pre-school children, and they need to understand the characters and the story in the easiest possible way. Dubbing is an effective tool to enhance and sharpen anyone’s ability and knowledge about speaking foreign languages., Subtitling on the other hand, is an essential factor to people, especially language students, to understand the culture of the target language, and thus, both of these areas are helpful to a multilingual community to break through a language barrier.
Subtitling and dubbing are important to convey messages whether it’s for entertainment or educational purposes. What matters is the accuracy and professionalism in how these two types of audiovisual translation, which makes it possible for audiences to understand foreign cultures.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Charlene Lacandazo works for Rosetta Translation Shanghai.