Page 183 of the book [reading] [sounds] by Sean Zdenek - title of chapter "Captioned Silences and Ambient Sounds" Below the title, the paragraph starts with "As counterintuitive as it may sound, silence sometimes needs to be closed captioned. Captioners not only inscribe sounds in writing but must also account for our assumptions about the nature, production, and reception of sounds. One of our most basic assumption is hat sounds are either discrete (with a clear beginning and end) or sustained (continuous). Sustained sounds, including sounds that are captioned as continuous or repeating (e.g., using the present participle verb+ing, as in [phone ringing]) may need to be identified in the captions as stopped or terminated if it's not clear from the visual context. That is, if we can't see the phone being answered or the ring being turned off, the captioner may need to mark the termination of the ringing sound. We also assume as moviegoers that the world is never technically silent. Ambient noise provides context. True silence is rare on the screen. In the real world beyond the screen, the same assumption holds.Sound waves envelop hearing viewers even in "silence." The total absence of sound can only be achieved on Earth artificially in an anechoic chamber, a room designed to block out exterior noise and absorb interior sound waves. Designed to test product noise levels (and not human tolerance levels), the chamber reportedly causes hallucinations and severe disorientation in hearing visitors who spend even a little time in one (Davies 2012):"
Page 183 from [reading] [sounds] by Sean Zdenek

This chapter of the book starts with the sentence “As counterintuitive as it may sound, silence sometimes needs to be closed captioned.” I couldn’t agree more with this line because it is so easy for captioners to oversee the importance of including silence/ambient sound and the difference this makes for viewers to understand the story better. There have been several occasions where I could hear something happening on TV (ambient sound in films that adds to the atmosphere/scene) but no word appears in the subtitle section to give me an answer to my curiosity.

Can silence be captioned? How can one interpret silence into words?

A large proportion of the U.K. television audience relies on subtitles. The BBC’s audience research team has run two audience surveys for us over the past two years. Each used a representative sample of around 5000 participants, who were questioned on that day’s viewing. The responses indicate that about 10% of the audience use subtitles on any one day and around 6% use them for most of their viewing. This equates to an audience of around 4.5 million people in the U.K., of which over 2.5 million use them most or all of the time. Importantly, not all subtitle users have hearing difficulties, some are watching with the sound turned off and others use them to support their comprehension of the program, while around a quarter of people with hearing difficulties watch television without subtitles.” (from the article published in 2017 titled Understanding the diverse needs of subtitle users in a rapidly evolving media landscape)

It is important to note that not everyone that uses subtitles identifies as d/Deaf or hard of hearing. In my recent research, I found an article written in 2006 discussing subtitles used by 6 million people with so-called “perfect” hearing. In the comments section, some individuals have shared why they enjoy using subtitles, their answers included that of providing a distraction for kids, learning English, or being able to multi-task etc. The link to the article is here.

Can subtitle capture emotions on screen? How does reading subtitle enhance the experience of film watching? When you read the subtitle, what kind of tone do you read in?

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