The 6th International conference on MEDIA FOR ALL, on translation for audiovisual media, was held on 16-18 September at the Western Sydney University. It was a very interesting conference attended by participants from some 20 countries.
Two keynote addresses were given, firstly by Dr Brij Kothari, who told us about improved literacy rates in India thanks to Same Language Subtitling (SLS) of Bollywood songs, and then by Professor David Katan, who explored various creative responses to subtitling challenges.
These challenges range from the linguistic and cultural to the technological, and many sessions were held over three days to discuss future trends in translating and subtitling film, news and current affairs and other audiovisual media.
Dalia Matar of SBS TV spoke about subtitling news items and documentaries from and into English and Arabic. Difficulties faced include differences in spoken Arabic across the 22 Arabic speaking nations, stress and fatigue from viewing distressing images from conflict zones and time constraints.
Professor Hart Cohen and Associate Professor Juan Salazar talked about their work making a collaborative community film with the Aranda people in Ntaria/Hermannsburg in central Australia. They have worked with local youth and elders (who speak various dialects of the Aranda/Arrente language and English) and the archives of the Strehlow Research Centre in Alice Springs. In this project, which is nearing completion after three years, translation and subtitling were part of the production process, not something done on a finished product.
The words of all speakers in the wheel-chair-accessible Lecture room 18 were projected on a screen in an immediate subtitling service provided by Ericsson. Well, almost immediate, with perhaps a one-second delay – time enough for a listener to realise if we hadn’t caught what had been said, and to then glance over and see the written text. This system is to be gradually introduced into university classrooms, and will be of great assistance to deaf and hard-of-hearing students and to foreign-language students attending lectures in English. Daniel Abrahams of ai-media Australia spoke of how live captioning is a cost-effective service that enables students to review information.
The same language subtitling of popular TV programs has been described as “a small thing that has a staggering impact on people’s lives” by former US President Bill Clinton. You can find more information about Dr. Kothari’s work on literacy and education in developing countries at www.planetread.org