When I watch television, I use the Subtitle function. Not when I’m watching a foreign language film, mind you. I mean…OF COURSE I use subtitles for foreign language films. But I use them for English language films, too. It has greatly enhanced my enjoyment and comprehension and I’ll give you three examples of how and why.

There are exceptions to my use of English subtitles. I’ve found that during live events, such as sports and news, the subtitles can be a huge distraction. They always show up 30 seconds to a minute after they were spoken. Also, there’s either an incompetent A.I. or a human that has only a passing familiarity with the language and/or subject matter. This is how “3rd and goal from the 4 yard line” turns into “Thurman goes from the forward lime”. Hilarious, but distracting.

1.) I’m not actually deaf

Not completely anyway. But some movies have their sound edited in such a way that it’s really hard to make out what’s being said over the background sound. Sometimes the dialogue is low compared to the soundtrack score. Sometimes a character is mumbling. Sometimes, especially if it’s a movie with the words “fast” or “furious” in the title, the sound effects are way, way too loud. Click the subtitles on and it won’t be a problem anymore.

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2.) Some accents are impossible to decipher

English is my first language so why is it so hard to understand what English people are saying? I love Guy Ritchie’s earlier movies but I really only understand about a third of the dialogue. Whether the characters are speaking with a thick brogue, in cockney slang or in Brad Pitt-ese having the English subtitles on makes show with English people so much better.

3.) You can get some bonus information

“Game of Thrones” ticks all the boxes when it comes to being hard to follow. Crazy accents? Check. Loud dragon shrieks? Check. Having the subtitles on during GOT has another advantage. There are about a thousand named characters on that show. It’s really hard to remember who is who. Fortunately, the subtitles will occasionally give the character’s name, followed by the dialogue. Say I forget who Ser Gordimir of the Black Water is…the subtitles will throw you a hint every now and then. Not every time. Just enough to be helpful.

Also, every once in a while, you’ll get bonus information that viewers watching without subtitles don’t get. Sometimes it’s like a cool little Easter Egg. Other times, though, it might be a spoiler.


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