The first meaning of subtitle that mentions the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) in his dictionary refers to secondary degree which sometimes appears after the main title. The concept, however, has another much more frequent use.
Generally speaking of subtitles refers to the transcription or written translation of a spoken text, which is exhibited in the lower sector of a screen. This resource is used regularly to facilitate the diffusion of films in the international arena.
Films produced in Hollywood, for example, are usually developed in English. This means that the actors speak in said idiom. So that viewers in countries where this language is not spoken can understand the dialogues and thus understand the stories, it is common to use subtitles. Thus, the sentences pronounced by the actors appear written and translated at the bottom of the images.
There are people who prefer to enjoy movies in dubbed versions: that is, with the original voices replaced by others that are in charge of translating the dialogues. However, many moviegoers opt for subtitles to appreciate the actual intonations and nuances.
Beyond the translation, subtitles may have other functions and utilities. Individuals with some hearing impairment They need them to read what they don’t hear, to name one possibility. If the degree of disability is absolute, meaning that it is deafness, then the subtitles are essential.
It should be noted that in these cases the usefulness of subtitles goes far beyond the transcription lines of dialogue, whether translated or in their original language: they also serve to indicate noises and sounds in the environment, such as the wind, the impact of an object that falls to the ground, an explosion that takes place outside the scene, the sound of a doorbell or even a song that begins to play in the background, for which the lyrics are also usually included while the conversations are subtitled.
On the Internet, it is common for videos to include subtitles in case users do not have an audio system or prefer that the sound is not emitted from their device. Furthermore, with the emergence of new technologies, it is increasingly possible to request a real-time transcription of dialogues from programs. This is used, for example, on the YouTube platform, which offers on-the-spot computer-generated subtitles in multiple languages. Although the system is not perfect, as it works better if the voices heard clearly, it can be useful in various situations.
In the field of opera, on the other hand, subtitles are also used so that the audience can follow the story if they do not understand the language of the work. In this case, each theater you can treat them differently. In the most select, a screen is offered behind each seat where the subtitles are reproduced individually, for each client. However, it is more common to project them on top of the stage, so that the entire audience can read them simultaneously.
If we are meticulous, this last implementation is opposed to the etymology of the term itself, since the prefix sub- refers to a position lower than the image. As a result of this inconsistency, there are those who prefer to call them something else, such as “subtitles”, a term that is part of the dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy, where it specifically refers to the text of a play that is projected on a screen located above the stage.