‘They don't speak proper English’: A new look at the dubbing and subtitling debate



Kilborn R (1989) ‘They don't speak proper English’: A new look at the dubbing and subtitling debate. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 10 (5), pp. 421-434.

As we move into a new age of broadcasting, viewers are going to have access to a much greater range of programming than hitherto. Given that a proportion of this material will have been produced in another language, the topic of ‘language conversion' is again coming under scrutiny. This article sets out to review some of the major issues in the context of developments which are occurring in the structure and output of the European audio‐visual media. As we move towards 1992 broadcasting companies and institutions will be required to screen more material produced by fellow member countries; and this in turn will necessitate greater use of dubbing, subtitling and other conversion procedures. On the other hand, pressures to introduce a greater volume of multilingual programming have to be weighed against the current response of audiences to foreign language broadcasts, whatever mode of language conversion is employed. The article concerns itself especially with how British audiences respond to subtitled and dubbed materials, using as its reference base a number of surveys produced for Channel 4 in 1987 and 1988. Finally, in the section ‘Looking towards the future', the author considers to what extent, as a result of technological advances and an extension of multilingual programming, viewers' attitudes towards the various language conversion methods might change.

Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development: Volume 10, Issue 5

Publication date31/12/1989
PublisherTaylor and Francis

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Professor Richard Kilborn

Professor Richard Kilborn

Honorary Professor, Communications, Media and Culture