Collaboration Between Subtitling Academics and Practitioners

A Proposal for SubComm




subtitling, collaboration, public translation studies, survey, working conditions, networking, professional development


This article proposes the application of public translation studies put forward by Koskinen (2010) to the field of audiovisual translation (AVT). We argue that AVT scholars and practitioners would benefit from the implementation of a long-term, reciprocal collaboration. This would involve the formation of a community of academics and subtitlers, creating a space for regular dialogic communication that would be mutually beneficial. The article first explores the concept of public translation studies, examining how and why this framework might be useful in AVT. We then present the findings of a scoping questionnaire, in which subtitlers working in the UK and Ireland were surveyed about their interest in collaborating with academics. Respondents indicated an interest in opportunities for professional development, community-building and collaboration. In addition, based on the results we highlight a number of areas around which these activities could be centred, including, for example, opportunities for subtitlers to enhance their practical skill set, to improve their career opportunities and the collective standing of the profession, to discuss translation dilemmas and to inform academia. We end by proposing some concrete next steps for the development of a subtitling community, and the possible role of academics and subtitlers within such an initiative.

Lay Summary

Working as a subtitler can be challenging in many ways: technological developments such as machine translation are changing the work rapidly, working conditions are sometimes demanding, and the work can be lonely because it is often done on a freelance basis. Therefore, subtitlers could benefit from new ways to work together, share information and advocate for better working conditions. It could also be useful to build closer contacts with researchers who have an interest in subtitling. Contacts with academia would allow practitioners to learn how research might benefit them and to contribute to future projects. This article presents a proposal for forming a community of practitioners and academics. As a first step, we conducted a survey with subtitlers based in the UK and Ireland to find out what topics practitioners would like to discuss with academics. The responses indicate that many practitioners want to enhance their practical skills by learning about topics such as new technology, and they want to network and improve their working conditions. There is also some interest in learning about and contributing to research. Based on these responses, we will conclude the article by introducing a new community of subtitlers and practitioners we are launching: SubComm.


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Author Biographies

Hannah Silvester, University College Cork

Dr Hannah Silvester lectures in Translation Studies and French at University College Cork, Ireland where she coordinates the MA in French Translation. She holds a PhD in Translation Studies from the University of Glasgow, and an MA in Screen Translation from the University of Sheffield. She has previously taught Translation Studies and Audiovisual Translation at undergraduate and postgraduate levels at Newcastle University and the University of Glasgow. Hannah works on the subtitling of non-standard language, multimodality in audiovisual translation, and the role of working conditions and context in subtitling, and has published articles in these areas. She is now working on a monograph based on her PhD research, which examines the subtitling of linguistic variation in French banlieue cinema.

Tiina Tuominen, University of Turku

Dr Tiina Tuominen is currently a part-time, acting Professor of English with a specialisation in translation and interpreting at the University of Turku, Finland. In 2020, she worked as a developer of subtitling and translation for the Finnish public broadcaster Yle. She has previously worked as a Lecturer in Translation Studies at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, and in various roles at the University of Tampere, Finland. She also received her PhD in Translation Studies at the University of Tampere. Her research interests focus on audiovisual translation and subtitling, particularly reception and audience studies, usability and user-centered translation, translators’ workplace studies, and multimodality. She has co-authored the book User-Centered Translation (Routledge 2015) with Tytti Suojanen and Kaisa Koskinen. She has also worked as a freelance translator and subtitler for several years.




How to Cite

Silvester, H., & Tuominen, T. (2021). Collaboration Between Subtitling Academics and Practitioners: A Proposal for SubComm. Journal of Audiovisual Translation, 4(3), 108–125.