New article published: Subtitles in the 2020s


We are happy to announce that a new article has been published in JAT: Hagström, H., & Pedersen, J. (2022). Subtitles in the 2020s: The Influence of Machine Translation. Journal of Audiovisual Translation5(1), 207–225. 

Lay summary

Machine translation is now starting to be used for subtitling from one language into another. This has been made possible by the use of higher reading speeds and recent technical innovations that simplify and automatise the process. As we move into this new phase in the development of the subtitling process, the phase of machine-translated subtitles which are then post-edited by humans, it is time to look at what marks this new process leaves on the subtitles themselves. We conducted a study of subtitles made before and after machine translation was part of the process. We did this by comparing Swedish subtitles of English-language TV programmes produced after machine translation was introduced, to subtitles from before that period. We also took data from studies of earlier processes into account. The results show that the post-edited subtitles produced in the 2020s were found to be faster, more oral, less cohesive, less complete and with less meticulous punctation and line-breaks than those produced in the 2010s. They were also of significantly lower quality in all areas investigated. Based on these results, we suggest that more research and development is needed to raise quality levels, and to put professional subtitlers in charge of the process.