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Subtitling Matters

New Perspectives on Subtitling and Foreign Language Learning


Elisa Ghia

Drawing on recent theoretical developments in second language acquisition, this book proposes a new approach to the learning of foreign languages through subtitled audiovisual input. Subtitled text is explored as a source of language acquisition, and its dialogue and subtitle components are focused on as sources of linguistic input. The primary focus of the research is subtitling and the impact it can have on learners’ noticing and acquisition of linguistic structures. The concept of translational salience is introduced, a phenomenon that can occur due to an accentuated contrast between L2 dialogue and L1 subtitles. Two experimental studies on the acquisition of English syntax by Italian learners are used to test the role of translational salience in both noticing and L2 learning. The results lead to a definition of salience particular to the audiovisual medium and raise challenging issues in the pedagogic applications of subtitling.


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List of Tables vii List of Figures ix Acknowledgements xi List of Abbreviations xiii Chapter 1 Introduction 1 Chapter 2 Subtitled Audiovisual Input and L2 Learning 7 Chapter 3 Salience and Translational Salience 49 Chapter 4 Perceptual Salience in Audiovisual Input: A Noticing Study 71 Chapter 5 Translational Salience and L2 Acquisition: An Empirical Study 93 Chapter 6 Results 129 vi Chapter 7 Discussion of Findings: Towards a Comprehensive Account of Translational Salience 165 Chapter 8 Conclusion 189 Bibliography 191 Appendix 209 Index 219

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