The most famous rule on the speed of subtitles is the six-second rule. In this study we investigate if the
six-second rule is too slow for contemporary viewers. We also address the question of whether subtitle processing depends on the
speech rate of film dialogues and on viewer’s proficiency in the language of the film soundtrack. With these questions in mind, we
tested 53 Polish viewers watching English videos at two different speech rates (slow and fast), subtitled into Polish in
accordance with the six-second rule. We examined participants’ reading patterns and comprehension and asked them to assess
subtitle speed and the congruity of subtitles with the dialogue. Analysing people’s eye movements enabled us to measure that
viewers were looking at subtitles for only about 30% of the subtitle display time. We found that the film speech rate affected
comprehension: faster dialogues, implying more text condensation in subtitles, resulted in lower comprehension compared to slow
speech rates. Viewers more proficient in the language of the film soundtrack spent less time gazing at subtitles than those who
had only elementary knowledge of the language.
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González-Iglesias González, J. David
2011 “Análisis diacrónico de la velocidad de presentación de subtítulos para DVD.” Trans: Revista de Traductología 151: 211–218.
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2000 “Time Spent Viewing Captions on Television Programs.” American Annals of the Deaf 145 (5): 464–468.
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2000 “Eye Movement Patterns of Captioned Television Viewers.” American Annals of the Deaf 145 (3): 275–285.
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Krejtz, Izabela, Agnieszka Szarkowska, and Krzysztof Krejtz
2013 “The Effects of Shot Changes on Eye Movements in Subtitling.” Journal of Eye Movement Research 6 (5: 3): 1–12.
2017 “The Effects of the Language of the Soundtrack on Film Comprehension, Cognitive Load and Subtitle Reading Patterns. An Eye-tracking Study.” Master’s Thesis, University of Warsaw.
Martí Ferriol, José Luis
2013 “Subtitle Reading Speeds in Different Languages: The Case of Lethal Weapon.” Quaderns: Revista de traducció (20): 201–210.
Matamala, Anna, Perego, Elisa, and Bottiroli, Sara
2009 “More Haste less Speed: Edited versus Verbatim Respoken Subtitles.” Vigo International Journal of Applied Linguistics 61: 109–133.
Romero Fresco, Pablo
2015The Reception of Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Europe: UK, Spain, Italy, Poland, Denmark, France and Germany. Bern: Peter Lang.
2016Report on the Results of an Online Survey on Subtitle Presentation Times and Line Breaks in Interlingual Subtitling. Part 1: Subtitlers. London: University College London. Accessed 6 November 2018. [URL]
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Szarkowska, Agnieszka, Izabela Krejtz, Zuzanna Kłyszejko, and Anna Wieczorek
2011 “Verbatim, Standard, or Edited? Reading Patterns of Different Captioning Styles among Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Hearing Viewers.” American Annals of the Deaf 156 (4): 363–378.
Szarkowska, Agnieszka, Izabela Krejtz, Olga Pilipczuk, Łukasz Dutka, and Jan-Louis Kruger
2016 “The Effects of Text Editing and Subtitle Presentation Rate on the Comprehension and Reading Patterns of Interlingual and Intralingual Subtitles among Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Hearing Viewers.” Across Languages and Cultures 17 (2): 183–204.
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Cited by 11 other publications
Cui, Ying, Xiao Liu & Yuqin Cheng
2023. Attention-consuming or attention-saving: an eye tracking study on punctuation in Chinese subtitling of English trailers. Multilingua 0:0
Fresno, Nazaret & Katarzyna Sepielak
2022. Subtitling speed in Media Accessibility research: some methodological considerations. Perspectives 30:3 ► pp. 415 ff.
This list is based on CrossRef data as of 14 may 2023. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers.
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