SubComm is an initiative intended to bring together professional subtitlers and researchers with an interest in subtitling. We hope this community will allow all of us to get to know each other, learn from each other, and create new opportunities for research and collaborations for the benefit of the subtitling profession.
Many of us have either personally experienced or at least heard about challenges faced by subtitlers, such as unpredictable working conditions, declining rates, and uncertainty over the introduction of new technological tools such as machine translation. These challenges are compounded by the fact that subtitlers often work as freelancers and may not have a steady network of colleagues with whom to discuss these issues. While there are numerous organisations and informal groups working to bring subtitlers together, we thought there might be room for one more initiative that encourages interaction and networking among subtitling practitioners and scholars internationally.
We wanted to include both practitioners and academics in this community, because we think it is beneficial for both to have an easy way to connect with each other and exchange experiences and information. We want SubComm to become a platform for practitioners to find out about interesting and useful research, and to propose new research topics or even participate in research projects. For researchers, hearing about practitioners’ experiences and working practices is valuable, because it can provide new ideas and perspectives. And, most of all, practitioners and researchers have a shared interest in subtitling, so they certainly have a lot to talk about. We often lament the gap between research and practice, and we hope that SubComm can help us narrow that gap and encourage us to work together.
We are starting small, but we have high hopes for SubComm’s future. We took our first steps earlier this year with a scoping questionnaire for subtitlers based in the UK and Ireland. We wanted to find out if they might be interested in this initiative, and what kinds of events they would like to attend. We discovered that there is indeed a lot of interest in collaboration and networking, and we are using the findings from the questionnaire to plan our next events (we are also working on an article based on the questionnaire – stay tuned!).
Working with subtitlers in the UK and Ireland was just the first step, and we now want to welcome subtitlers and researchers from any country to join our community. We think that having an international community will be both fun and beneficial, because it will allow us to learn from each other’s best practices and successes across working languages and national boundaries. Our initial events have been geared towards subtitlers, but we hope that in the near future we can start more actively inviting researchers to join us as well.
We are launching the subcomm.co.uk website at our second event, our Share Your Story session, on 14 June 2021. We held our first, introductory session for UK and Ireland subtitlers in March to discuss the results of our survey. The idea for Share Your Story grew from subtitlers’ comments at that event. The discussion revealed that people have very different career paths and practices. The participants thought it might be interesting to hear a bit more about all the different experiences, so we decided to organise Share Your Story for that purpose. In the future, we would like to offer all kinds of events, including professional development, informal discussions, and sessions for planning activities and initiatives together. If you have ideas for future activities, we would love to hear them, either via the contact form on the website, or on the discussion forum. We will keep you updated on our plans with blog posts and information on the events page, as well as by posting on the forum.
It is very easy to join SubComm. All you need is to contact us via the online form and request to be added on our email list, or join the online forum. Or you can just follow our posts and attend any events that interest you. We want this to be a welcoming community, and we hope both practitioners and researchers will feel at home. We are looking forward to an active exchange of ideas and constructive collaborations to improve subtitlers’ circumstances and to generate better research. And of course, we fully expect to have a good time with like-minded people from many countries. Welcome all, and see you on the discussion forum and at our events!