Subtitles in English-only TV commercials

Are they still necessary or have they become superfluous?




subtitles, cross-national advertising, communicative effectiveness, English-only commercials


Previous studies on the effects of subtitles in cross-national English spoken commercials have yielded contradictory results regarding young and highly educated viewers’ ad and brand attitudes. Most studies did not examine whether local-language subtitles are still necessary for older viewers to understand the English dialogues in the commercials. In a between-subjects experiment, we examined whether subtitles had a positive effect on (1) participants’ understanding of what the actors in commercials were saying to each other, and (2) participants’ attitudes towards commercials. Our sample (N = 188) consisted of viewers over age forty with different educational backgrounds living in a typical subtitling region. Our study showed that subtitles did not affect viewers’ attitudes towards the commercials. Local-language
subtitles, however, increased participants’ understanding of what was said in the commercials, regardless of their educational level. Subtitles in English spoken commercials intended for an older and broad audience are, therefore, certainly not superfluous.


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How to Cite

Raedts, M., & Roozen, I. (2023). Subtitles in English-only TV commercials: Are they still necessary or have they become superfluous?. Dutch Journal of Applied Linguistics, 12.