Captions, Same Language Subtitles, A Man and a Woman, and more

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2015/05/06 13:42 +00:00, original URI:

Friend and colleague Don Osborn tweeted las Thursday: Same-language subtitling for African languages?

Same-language subtitling for African languages?: The current edition of The Economist has a feature on "same-l...

— Don Osborn (@donosborn) April 30, 2015

Regular readers know how strongly I feel about subtitles and captions. What they may not know (since I haven't blogged about it previously) is that it all started with an award winning film from years prior to when I was born!

The 1966 French film A Man and a Woman (Un homme et une femme) is my favorite example of both technologies, and as an interesting by the way why I first learned that I can love an opera even if I don't know the language.

I have read the movie in its native French, subtitled into English, dubbed into English, and both at the same time. It was pretty easy to enjoy unique aspects of the film with every one of those permutations, especially with the Oscar winning visuals that the film offered.

Interestingly, it was also used as part of the plot of Nelson DeMille's Night Fall, and helped firmly anchor the story for any reader who knew the film, or New York City, or Chestnut Street in Philadelphia, or even Yemen or Tanzania, or the fascinating and terrifying case about the explosion and subsequent investigation of TWA Flight 800 over Long Island.

I find the lines between dubbing, subtitles, and captions are blurrier than ever, yet I agree with the idea that no matter what you call it, the potential benefits of SLS (same language subtitles) can be a wonderful aid to literacy in not just the languages of Africa but the languages of anywhere. Of everywhere.

In the end, I found it fascinating how many aspects of the movie and the book's story resonated with aspects of my own interests, experiences, areas of expertise, and life. It has become one of the Nelson DeMille novels that I have been able to enjoy several different times over the past few years, and not only because I wish I was as clever as retired NYPD detective John Corey.

The novel's reminder of Man and a Woman (Un homme et une femme) and how many different ways it has been able to speak to me has made it one of my favorite reminders of why I love what I do (when I'm able to it, of course!).

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