Subtitles are your frenemy.

Out in the world, I’ve heard complaints about subtitles, along the lines of not wanting the bother of following the action on screen along with the text beneath. Those complaints have a point, but it can be fun to race the text, make a game of reading as much of it as possible before it blinks away to the next set. And once that’s done, there’s the game of comparing the spoken word to the subtitles. This annoys me sometimes - from uses of the wrong homonym in the text (there instead of their, for instance), to misread text (there's a French film that subtitled 'page 51' to read 'page st.') to dialogue abridged to the point of leaving out interesting parts. Although, there is a benefit if you’re watching a film in a language foreign to you - finding patterns of words or phrases repeated, both spoken on screen and printed in the text, can be educational. One movie comes to mind as an example. The story was of an emperor with three sons and two wives. Close to the end of the film (MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT), the youngest prince kills the eldest, much to the horror of the emperor and empress, and screams out “I hate him! I hate you all!” (Like an average teenager. END SPOILER.) Okay, putting aside the imperial fratricidal bloodbath for a minute, this is an illustration of one such pattern. The words ‘I’ and ‘hate’ are repeated in the subtitles, while the only difference is the object of that hate. Compare that to the spoken word onscreen to pick out four or five words in Mandarin. Yay learning.

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