Subtitles for the Hard of Hearing

Subtitles for the hard of hearing (that’s me ! – not deaf, you understand) require a particular writing skill when they go beyond merely transcribing speech. Describing noises well is a special talent, and while watching “The Man in the Orange Shirt” on TV this struck me forcibly. I wonder what the superb writer of the piece, Patrick Gale, would make of this subtitler’s effort.

At many an inappropriate moment – when the viewer was meant to be absorbed, moved or simply informed –  I couldn’t help laughing aloud.

There were serious scenes in a public toilet where we were told “liquid trickles” as the characters peed.

As for the sex scenes! The man (or the woman sometimes) “grunts”,”inhales deeply”,”breathes heavily””breathes sharply” and oh dear! “the bed creaks”. Quite off-putting, really.

And yet could a better writer do better? I’d prefer “urinates” to “liquid trickles”. And as for the sex scenes – I’d simply cut out all the “grunts” etc.  Even if people do it, best not to comment.

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