A Small Rant about Close Captions and Subtitles

Maria Heiskanen, Pirkko Hämäläinen, and Emmi Parviainen in Transport

Look at that image. A TV series with three women as lead characters. It was written and directed by a woman. Perfect for me, right? Wrong. I tried to watch it but was stymied by the way close captions and subtitles are used.

This series, Transport, is a Finnish production airing on Acorn TV. Finnish, Flemish, and English are spoken in the series.

I’m not blaming Acorn TV or Transport for my problems. This series is just the latest example of another series or film I’ve found impossible to watch because of the way subtitles and close captions are used.

There are subtitles on the screen for the Finnish and Flemish. Great, right?

No, wrong. Because often covering the subtitle is another bit of text that says something really helpful like “Both speaking Finnish.”

But an even worse problem is when the characters speak English, which is often. There are no close captions for the English. Sometimes, on some platforms, there is a way to get BOTH subtitles and close captions. This particular series on this particular platform doesn’t offer that option – and they aren’t the only ones who don’t.

If anyone out there in caption/subtitle land is listening, I’m asking you to give the English speakers a chance at close captions along with the translated languages in the subtitles. Just put that option in the settings, please. Both are needed and important.

9 thoughts on “A Small Rant about Close Captions and Subtitles”

  1. I agree…..sometimes captions are ruining a good show. It’s such a shame. But I do wonder why a show with three women makes a difference when it certainly makes no difference to the lousy display of captions which can happen too often to any movie or show.

  2. Yes, agree. Awareness and improvement in competent translations, and their placement on screen on many platforms is needed.

  3. Another gripe: A film or television show is already dubbed into English. Characters speak, and we hear dialogue in English. But then we ALSO get captioning done by someone who, apparently, followed the actual dialogue. So I am READING one set of lines, while hearing an entirely different set of lines. So disconcerting.

    1. Yes it is disconcerting. I really hate dubbing and never choose that option, but some people really need it because of issues reading subtitles. Playing the dubbed English without matching it to the displayed English is so lazy and inconsiderate.

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