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Doctoral defence of Juha Lång, MA, 10 Feb 2023: Eye movements and reception of audiovisual translation

The doctoral dissertation in the field of English language and translation will be examined in Joensuu Campus, and it will be streamed online.

What is the topic of your doctoral research? Why is it important to study the topic?

In Finland, subtitling is the main method of translating foreign-language audiovisual material. With the exponentially growing popularity of video streaming, subtitling has become more popular also in other parts of the world. Despite this, fairly little is known about the impact subtitles have on the reception of television programs or movies. In this dissertation, I examine the reception of subtitled television programs mainly through eye tracking methodology. More specifically, I am interested in how professional subtitling conventions affect how subtitled television material is watched and received. Subtitling conventions determine the standards of "good quality" subtitles, for example in terms of structure (e.g., number of lines) and subtitling speed. The aim is that subtitles integrate with the other elements of the material, both aural and visual, so that viewers are conveyed the essential information in the the spoken message in a way that they can effectively follow all the different information channels (subtitles, image, dialogue).

What are the key findings or observations of your doctoral research?

The results support the importance of subtitling conventions for the reception of subtitled audiovisual material. The synchronization of audio and subtitles is vital as viewers, when watching subtitled programmes, expect subtitles to accompany any spoken dialogue or narration and their gazes automatically searches for them whenever speech is heard. Furthermore, text in general and subtitles in particular are strong attractors of gaze, and subtitles are often looked at even in cases where the viewer does not understand them and can understand the spoken audio track. Typically viewers prioritize subtitles as an information source at the expense other visual elements, and too quickly paced subtitles can completely prevent the viewer from following the image as all the available time is spent on reading the subtitles. Then again, subtitles that follow the professional conventions can be an effective information channel and the viewers benefit from understanding both the subtitles and the audio track.

How can the results of your doctoral research be utilised in practice?

The research project has produced empirical knowledge about the reception of subtitled audiovisual content. The results can be used by the professional field in the evaluation and improvement of professional subtitling conventions and practices.

What are the key research methods and materials used in your doctoral research?

The dissertation comprises three empirical studies and a literature review of eye tracking research in audiovisual translation. Eye tracking methodology was the main method in the empirical studies, and it was used for examining the gaze paths of different participant groups as they watched foreign-language television programs that were subtitled to Finnish. In addition to eye tracking data, written questionnaires were used as data collection method in some of the empirical studies. The two approaches compelent each other, as questionnaires can be used for gathering data about participants' conscious reactions and thoughts while eye tracking data can provide information about cognitive processes and other unconscious reactions.


The doctoral dissertation of Juha Lång, MA, entitled Eye movements and reception of audiovisual translation. An empirical look into interlingually subtitled television programs will be examined at the Philosophical Faculty, Joensuu Campus (Room E100, Educa building), on 10 February 2023 at 12:00–17:00. The Opponent will be Professor Liisa Tiittula of the University of Helsinki, and the Custos will be University Lecturer Jukka Mäkisalo of the University of the Eastern Finland. Language of the public defence is Finnish, and it will be streamed online.

Further information:

Juha Lång,, tel. +358 50 324 6331