In order to understand and fully comprehend a subtitle, two parameters within the linguistic code of audiovisual texts are key in the processing of the subtitle itself, namely, vocabulary and syntax. Through a descriptive and experimental study, the present article explores the transfer of the linguistic code of audiovisual texts in subtitling for deaf and hard-of-hearing children in three Spanish TV stations. In the first part of the study, we examine current practices in Spanish TV captioning to analyse whether syntax and vocabulary are adapted to satisfy deaf children’s needs and expectations regarding subtitle processing. In the second part, we propose some alternative captioning criteria for these two variables based on the needs of d/Deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH) children, suggesting a more appropriate way of displaying the written linguistic code for deaf children. Although no specific distinction will be made throughout this paper, it is important to refer to these terms as they have been widely used in the literature. Neves (2008) distinguishes between the “Deaf”, who belong to a linguistic minority, use sign language as their mother tongue, and usually identify with a Deaf community and culture; the “deaf”, who normally have an oral language as their mother tongue and feel part of the hearing community; and the “hard of hearing”, who have residual hearing and, therefore, share the world and the sound experience of hearers. In the experimental study, 75 Spanish DHH children aged between 8 and 13 were exposed to two options: the actual broadcast captions on TV, and the alternative captions created by the authors. The data gathered from this exposure were used to analyse the children’s comprehension of these two variables in order to draw conclusions about the suitability of the changes proposed in the alternative subtitles.
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