Choosing between dubbing and subtitling in a changing landscape


Nowadays, audiences worldwide are increasingly accessing audiovisuals in languages different from their own, even in world areas that do not traditionally use subtitling as the mainstream audiovisual translation (AVT) mode. The trend is linked to the rise of new media and viewing platforms, where users are offered multiple and more flexible viewing options. Systematic research on viewers’ consumption of different translation modes is scant. The current study follows up on Pavesi and Ghia (2020) and reports on a questionnaire-based investigation conducted among 305 postgraduate students in several disciplines at a middle-sized university in Italy – a traditionally dubbing country. The study focuses on participants’ choice of languages and AVT modes, namely subtitling and dubbing, when watching foreign language films and TV-series. Viewers’ reasons for their choices are investigated, and different viewer profiles are outlined crossing participants’ preferences with data on their academic and L2 learning background. The emerging picture is quite diversified: while many participants show a strong orientation to subtitled media, some still opt for dubbing. Viewers’ choices are not primarily driven by (un)availability or an unfavourable evaluation of AVT modes, but mainly result from an orientation to the foreign language or from sociability and watching dynamics. Choices also associate with different viewer profiles, where students’ L2 background plays a relevant role.


DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v46p161

Keywords: dubbing; subtitling; audiovisual texts; viewing modes; viewer profiles.


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