Captioning v. subtitling | Social online captioning/subtitling | Short URL

Captioning v. subtitling

Captions and subtitles are both texts rendering the audio content of a video, but captions are in the same language as the video, whereas subtitles are in another language. Captioning has three purposes:
  1. making the video accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing (HoH)
  2. helping people who have a limited understanding of the original language
  3. serving as translatable basis for the subtitles in other languages.
The difference between 1 and 2 is the reason why, on DVDs, for the original language, you sometimes have captions for the deaf and HoH, which also include descriptions of non verbal audio info (squeaking door, ominous music), and another set without this info, which is the one on which subtitles in other languages are based.

Social online captioning/subtitling

However, when you caption/subtitle a video online, the tools usually offer only one track for the original language. So at times you are in a quandary: should I transcribe all the false starts of a speaker who is trying to find the best wording for his thought, all the written things that appear in the video?
In theory, yes, because that track is going to be -hopefully - translated by others, without viewing the video again. Nevertheless, might this not be a solemn pain in the neck for people who are deaf from birth, and for whom the written transcription of our spoken language is therefore doubly foreign?
So you compromise, and try to be coherent in this compromising, at least within a given video. For instance, if a sign language translation is also provided, as in the video of Marco Penich's Il Grande Nudo Rosso, thus catering for the needs of people who were born deaf, you can be completely literal in the captioning. On the other hand, for an unscripted discussion like the one in Fondation Agalma - Entretien avec Claudia Mej├Ča Quijano, where people reword their thoughts, and at times interrupt each other, it's better to take a few shortcuts (actually, I should have taken more shortcuts in this case, but then when you transcribe 50 minutes of video, it is simpler to just transcribe and not think too much about it).

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