Expansion in Film Subtitling: The Case of English-Persian Subtitles

Document Type : Original Article


English Department, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran


This study investigates the application of expansion in Persian subtitles of English language films. More precisely, this study aims at classifying the different types of expansion used in subtitles as well as investigating the appropriateness or inappropriateness of the employment of each type, considering the time and space constraints which are peculiar to subtitling. To achieve this purpose, three English films, “The Net”, “Contact”, and “Mission Impossible 2”, available with Persian subtitles, were selected for the study. To gather the required data, these films were watched and the Persian subtitles in which expansion had been used were identified and extracted along with   their English dialogs. Then, the extracted Persian subtitles were classified based on the reason that gave rise to expansion in each case. Then, the appropriateness or inappropriateness of using expansion in the extracted Persian subtitles was descriptively investigated. Finally, an equivalent not containing any expansion was proposed for those cases in which the meaning could be fully transferred without this strategy. The findings of the study indicated that a number of reasons gave rise to the expansion of subtitles. These reasons range from explicitation (explicitation of visual, co-textual and contextual information), mistranslation and paraphrasing to subtitler’s preferences. Furthermore, it was found that the application of expansion was inappropriate in all cases except for those caused by explicitation of contextual information, since correct and shorter equivalents, which were equally capable of conveying the intended meaning, could be posited for the original dialogs.