Assessing quality in live interlingual subtitling: a new challenge

Isabelle S. Robert, Aline Remael


Quality-assessment models for live interlingual subtitling are virtually non-existent. In this study we investigate whether and to what extent existing models from related translation modes, more specifically the Named Entity Recognition (NER) model for intralingual live subtitling, provide a good starting point. Having conducted a survey of the major quality parameters in different forms of subtitling, we proceed to adapt this model. The model measures live intralingual quality on the basis of different types of recognition error by the speech-recognition software, and edition errors by the respeaker, with reference to their impact on the viewer’s comprehension. To test the adapted model we conducted a context-based study comprising the observation of the live interlingual subtitling process of four episodes of Dansdate, broadcast by the Flemish commercial broadcaster VTM in 2015. The process observed involved four “subtitlers”: the respeaker/interpreter, a corrector, a speech-to-text interpreter and a broadcaster, all of whom performed different functions. The data collected allow errors in the final product and in the intermediate stages to be identified: they include when and by whom they were made. The results show that the NER model can be applied to live interlingual subtitling if it is adapted to deal with errors specific to translation proper.


simultaneous interpreting; AVT; hybrid practices; process research; quality assessment

Full Text:



Carroll, M., & Ivarsson, J. (1998). Code of good subtitling practice. Berlin: European Association for Studies in Screen Translation.

Díaz Cintas, J., & Remael, A. (2007). Audiovisual translation: subtitling. Manchester: St. Jerome.

Kuo, S.-Y. (2014). Quality in subtitling: Theory and professional reality (Doctotal dissertation). Retrieved from

Kurz, I. (2001). Conference interpreting: Quality in the ears of the user. Meta, 46(2), 394 –409.

Pereira, A. (2010). Criteria for elaborating subtitles for deaf and hard of hearing adults in Spain: Description of a case study. In A. Matamala & P. Orero (Eds), Listening to subtitles: Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (pp. 87–102). Bern: Peter Lang.

Pöchhacker, F. (2016). Introducing Interpreting Studies.(2nd ed.). London: Routledge.

Rajendran, D.J., Duchowski, A.T., Orero, P., Martínez, J., & Romero-Fresco, P. (2013). Effects of text chunking on subtitling: A quantitative and qualitative examination. Perspectives: Studies in Translatology, 21(1), 5–21.

Remael, A., Van Waes, L., & Leijten, M. (2014). Live subtitling with speech recognition: How to pinpoint the challenges? In D. Abend-David (Ed.), Media and translation: An interdisciplinary approach (pp. 121–147). New York, NY: Bloomsbury Academic.

Robert, I.S., & Remael, A. (2016). Quality control in the subtitling industry: an exploratory survey study. Meta, 61(3), 578–605.

Romero-Fresco, P. (2011). Subtitling through speech recognition: Respeaking. Manchester: St Jerome.

Romero-Fresco, P. (2016). Accessing communication: The quality of live subtitling in the UK. Language and Communication, 48, 56–69.

Saldanha, G., & O’Brien, S. (2013). Research methodologies in translation studies. Manchester: St. Jerome.

Szarkowska, A., Krejtz, K., Dutka, Ł., & Pilipczuk, O. (2016). Cognitive load in intralingual and interlingual respeaking – a preliminary study. Poznan Studies in Contemporary Linguistics, 52(2), 209–233.

Van Waes, L., Leijten, M., & Remael, A. (2013). Live subtitling with speech recognition: causes and consequences of text reduction. Across Languages and Cultures, 14(1), 15–46.

Zwischenberger, C. (2010). Quality criteria in simultaneous interpreting: An international vs. a national view. The Interpreters’ Newsletter, 15, 127–142.