Americans put subtitles on to comprehend British television

I subtitle everything because the industry has audio processing issues that make it hard to follow without them.

Reportedly, 40% of younger viewers routinely turn on subtitling in order to follow dialogue.






There’s a fantastic scene in Agents of SHIELD where Hunter, a British character says he’ll be able to get some information they need out of an old friend. Smashcut to them in a pub, and their drunken dialogue is subtitled.


It seems more like a modern problem. Yesterday, watching the original Total Recall, I didn’t need the subtitles even once.


Sometimes even the British need subtitles.


Americans put subtitles on to comprehend British television.


Representing on behalf of the Greater West Midlands’ Conurbation, here (Awright, bab); I too watch TV with subtitles on.

It started with US TV shows, where my ageing ears could no longer understand dialogue spoken by young America women (Heavy Metal and physical decrepitude have stripped out the upper end of my hearing); but now it is becoming more general.

I find it useful for picking up on audio cues, like narratively important sound effects. Subtitles are great :+1:


There is a scene or two where the local accents in Snatch are thick, as well as Brad Pitt’s character being hard to understand.

But while I could pick up on most of it, this scene in Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels is in some kind of coded language. Like I understand the words - not some of the meanings.

Oops don’t need to repost it, Spunky TWS is on top of it!


Given how universally abysmal the subtitles tend to be, it’s almost certainly not going to help, and probably make people more confused, because so many of the subtitles for non-US English language programs are just… wrong.

It’s gotten noticeably worse since they started using automated systems to generate subtitles, but Americans trying to caption English/Scottish/Welsh/Irish/Australian/New Zealand speech has always been a disaster. I constantly see the wrong words show up in subtitling because of dialog being misheard, or slang not being understood (or perhaps, in some misguided efforts, replaced with words they thought US audiences would understand, even if the meaning isn’t the same*). The auto-captioning systems obviously get trained on American voices, and routinely fail when that’s not the case, and if the audio is muddy and people need subtitles the most, that’s when they’re the most likely to fail. There end up being lots of mistakes and significant amounts of extended gibberish.

*I remember watching, in the US, gritty British cop shows in the '80s, and having someone say, “The poor cow,” and seeing it captioned as, “The poor gal,” for example. That one in particular stuck with me because I couldn’t tell if it was a deliberate mistake or not. More often it was [dialog unintelligible], as the closed captioner just gave up entirely.


Peaky Blinders is set in Birmingham not Manchester though.


I watched that link twice.
It makes less sense with the subtitles on.

Dinnae if thet wuz yer point, mind?


I for one never use subtitles for English dialog. I can understand the dialects just fine. I do sometimes have to repeat something Pussycat didn’t catch, but not too often, and I assume it’s because she’s also always reading a book and not paying full attention to the movie.

I read all these complaints about the sound mix making dialog unintelligible now, but I’ve never had a problem (no, not even Tenet). I have to wonder if people have their sound system set up improperly, or maybe those sound bars don’t do a good job with the center channel? (I don’t have a sound bar or a surround system so I don’t really know). No problem with my crappy Visio tv speakers or my Sennheiser HD600 headphones.


A welcome trend, i think, not to sugarcoat regional dialects and idioms in drama which gives an unfair representation that we’re an island of plummy speaking English southerners. Perish the thought.


My sound is always on low as my hearing is excellent. I do sometimes have an auditory discrimination problem- regardless of the accent.

This is particularly true in noisy places. And lyrics in music. I have trouble with those as well. But if you just test my hearing by decibels and frequency- golden.


Hmmm… Did you read the thread? There are plenty of other reasons why people might need to rely on subtitles, none of which are ignorance about audio set up on people’s tvs… :woman_shrugging: The reality is that most of our society is set up for human beings with no disabilities and anyone with disabilities are often, at best, second thoughts with regards to stuff like this, if they are thought of at all.

For my part, I have some hearing loss in one ear, and the subtitles help, even with accents I am familiar with.


Customs agent: “Do you have anything to declare?”

Cousin Avi: “Yeah. Don’t go to England.”


Sometimes people with heavy Alabama accents can be difficult for outsiders to understand too.


Yes I did and I understand that I was only wondering about people with average hearing having to use subtitles to understand the dialog is all.

I see subtitles with errors, omissions, and misspellings too, another reason I avoid them if I speak the language.

Sometimes they even contain spoilers: if you turn on the subs for the English dialog in Everything Everywhere All At Once you will see a caption “Bagel Deirdre” when the janitor closet universe Jamie Lee Curtis first speaks.