University of Nottingham Ningbo China
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Language in light: deaf and hard-of-hearing subtitles and characterisation

05 March 2014 (17:00-18:00)

The Centre for Research in Applied Linguistics (CRALC) and the School of English, is pleased to invite you to the following public lecture presented by Professor Dan McIntyre, University of Huddersfield, UK.

About the lecture

Frequently, deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHOH) subtitles in TV and film drama omit elements of the original audio dialogue. In this presentation I discuss the extent to which such omissions are likely to affect how hearing-impaired viewers conceptualise characters. I report on a number of projects carried out at the University of Huddersfield in which we analysed extracts from several films and TV dramas, including Pennies from Heaven (BBC 1978), Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (BBC 1979), and The Wire (HBO 2002-2008). We compared the DHOH subtitles with transcripts of the original dialogue and isolated all the instances where omissions or additions were made in the subtitles. Using a model of characterisation developed in stylistics, we then determined whether the elements omitted constituted characterisation triggers. In answer to our research questions, we found that: (i) DHOH subtitles of character dialogue can have a detrimental effect on characterisation, though not all changes and omissions are problematic for viewers; (ii) whether or not particular linguistic cues for characterisation can be omitted from subtitles without damaging characterisation is dependent on the context of the scene, the linguistic behaviour of other characters, and elements of mise-en-scene; and (iii) stylistic theories of characterisation might potentially inform techniques of DHOH subtitling.

Speaker biography

Dan McIntyre is Professor of English Language and Linguistics at the University of Huddersfield, where he is a member of the Stylistics Research Centre and Director of Graduate Education for the School of Music, Humanities and Media. His major publications include Stylistics (Cambridge University Press, 2010; with Lesley Jeffries), Language and Style (Palgrave, 2010; edited with Beatrix Busse), History of English (Routledge, 2009) and Point of View in Plays (John Benjamin's, 2006). He is series editor for Advances in Stylistics (Bloomsbury) and Perspectives on the English Language (Palgrave) and Reviews Editor for Language and Literature (Sage). He began his career teaching English as a foreign language in Italy and subsequently studied for a PhD in Stylistics under the supervision of Professor Mick Short. His research interests include literary and non-literary stylistics, corpus linguistics and the history of the English language. He also has interests in applied linguistics and is co-editor of Teaching Stylistics (Palgrave, 2011).