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ThePr Pros Pros and Cons of Dubbing and Subtitling
Cees M. Koolstra, Allerd L. Peeters and Herman Spinhof
A B S T R A C TDubbing and subtitling are the most prevalent methods used to make
foreign-language television programmes available to a domestic market.
Each adaptation method has its advantages and disadvantages. This article
provides an inventory of the pros and cons of both methods on the basis of
three questions: Through which method can information best be
transferred? What are the aesthetic advantages and disadvantages of each
method? Which skills do viewers acquire ‘incidentally’ by using one of the
two adaptation methods? The answers given to these questions are based as
much as possible on the results of empirical research on dubbing and
subtitling. The conclusion is that there is no empirical evidence for some
frequently claimed advantages and disadvantages. With regard to other
pros and cons, it depends on the viewer, the type of television programme
and the way in which a programme is subtitled or dubbed as to whether
the argument should be taken seriously.
Key Wordsaesthetic appreciation of television programmes,
comprehension of television programmes, dubbing, foreign-language
In the European Union many television programmes broadcast are
imported from foreign-language countries. In the Netherlands, for
example, about one-third of the television programmes come from abroad
(Luyken et al., 1991; Spinhof and Peeters, 1999). Two adaptation
Cees M. Koolstra is Assistant Professor at the Center for Child and Media
Studies, Leiden University, PO Box 9555, 2300 RB Leiden, The Netherlands.
[email: firstname.lastname@example.org]. Allerd L. Peeters is senior researcher at the
University of Nijmegen. Herman Spinhof is a freelance journalist.
European Journal of CommunicationCopyright © 2002 SAGE Publications
(London, Thousand Oaks, CA and New Delhi), Vol 17(3): 325–354.