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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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The research for this book has been carried out within the international pro- ject English and Italian Audiovisual Language: Translation and Language Learning, led by Maria Pavesi, University of Pavia, and generously funded by the Fondazione Alma Mater Ticinensis. The production of this book has also been partially supported by the Fondazione Alma Mater Ticinensis. I would like to deeply thank Maria Pavesi, who has constantly encour- aged me and patiently guided me through the years, and without whom this book would not have been possible. My deepest thanks also go to Elisa Perego for her help and support with the eye-tracking study. For their assis- tance and precious advice throughout the dif ferent phases of the research, I am extremely grateful to Cecilia Andorno, Maria Freddi, Anna Giacalone Ramat and Silvia Luraghi. My warmest thanks also go to Sue Gass and Géry d’Ydewalle for their inspirational and extremely precious suggestions. I am especially thankful to Marco Porta and Mauro Mosconi from the Computer Vision & Multimedia Lab at the University of Pavia for allowing me to use their eye-tracker and making the study in Chapter 4 possible. I am sincerely thankful to Marco Porta for the design of the ESE software, which made it possible to extract and analyse results so nicely. Special thanks go to my friends and colleagues from university, my friends and family at home, and all the students who volunteered to take part in the studies. Finally, I would like to thank the series editor,...

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