Why English movies have subtitles

Chinese movies have one of the differences from foreign countires is billngual subtitles (even Chinese dramas and varieties have the subtitles too). Two langueages that we use are Chinese and English as subtitles. There are some reasons why Chinese movies have (bilingual) subtitles.

(screenshot from “Sikptrace”)

First reason is dialect. Besides mandarin and cantonese (cantonese is Chinese dialect), China has lots of dialects; different provinces have different dialects. For example, I come from northeast of China, but I don’t understand south dialects. When people come from different provinces, we talk in mandarin with each others. Some Chinese movies have some different dialects, so they make sure audiences can understand what they are talking about.

Second is the background music and sound effect.  In the TV, 1080p of the original film will often encounter the phenomenon of sudden and large sound, then the remote control make it smaller and then become unclear. But the cinema can not be controlled remotely, if the background music is louder to hold the voice, the subtitle can guarantee audiences will not out of the play; if the voice is too small, it also has the subtitles can guarantee audiences will not out of the play.

Third is deep voice or pronunciation is not clear. Some actors or actresses have deep and low voices, it sounds good. But we can’t hear it in the heavy bass of the theaters. So the subtilte help us to understand the lines.

Fourth is deaf-mutes. They have hard time to hear and talk in the live. The subtitiles help them to understand what actors or actresses talk about.

Fifth, there are lots of foreigners come to China and English is the most widely spoken language in the world. Chinese students also learn English start at elementary school. When we watch bilingual subtitles, we can learn the English and we also can understand the meaning. Foreigners can use Chinese movies to learn Chinese, the English subtitles help them to understand the Chinese.

There has one more special about subtitles, that is Hong Kong movies. Eveyone knows people in Hong Kong speak cantonese more than madarin. When they release movies in cantonese, they don’t have subtitles. When the movies release to mainland of China, production team will put subtitle in movies. Also, production team will use madarin dub for it with subtitle.

(screenshot from “A Chinese Odyssey”)

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