Captioning the backchannel: How captions clarify and equalize sounds

Screenshot from The Happening (2008)

When sounds in the background are captioned, they come forward. All sounds become equally “loud” on the caption track.

Source: Source: The Happening, 2008. DVD. The featured caption is an example of backchannel speech sounds that come forward when captioned: “[Man] I just walked down a quarter mile. It was clean.”

Source: Source: ource: The Happening, 2008. DVD. A compilation of backchannel sounds that come forward and compete with the foreground speech when captioned verbatim.

S. Zdenek

Dr. Sean Zdenek is an associate professor of technical and professional writing at the University of Delaware. He is the author of Reading Sounds: Closed-Captioned Media and Popular Culture (University of Chicago Press, 2015).


2 Responses

  1. The only thing is, it doesn’t say who is chattering. Cultural notes: in my “hood” chattering usually refers to teeth, whereas a crowd would “murmur”.