Between language policy and linguistic reality: Intralingual subtitling on Flemish television

Reinhild Vandekerckhove, Annick De Houwer and Aline Remael

Abstract

This paper focuses on a relatively new and much discussed phenomenon on Flemish television: The practice of intralingual subtitling of Dutch, i.e. Dutch subtitling of native speakers of (varieties of) Dutch. Our study investigates the linguistic determinants of intralingual subtitling and subsequently confronts actual subtitling practice with viewer needs. The analyses reveal a striking inconsistency between intralingual subtitling practice in fiction versus non-fiction programs. This appears to be symptomatic of a tension between the official language policy in Flanders and present day linguistic reality. As such, subtitling practice subtly reflects the existence of shifting linguistic norms in Flanders.

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