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About reading speed and subtitle length

With the authorization of Devanathan, I am reposting here his ticket about subtitle length and reading speed, two parameters sometimes difficult to reconcile:


     I have newly signed up with Amara and would like to contribute subtitles in Tamil for the videos. 

I am facing the following problem and please give me a step by step solution.

Let us say one scene has got 5 seconds. In that 5 secs, I want to display two 2 line subtitles. I am able to create a 4 line subtitle, but I am not able to place them side by side - as two, two line subtitles-in the time frame so that they are covered in the available time frame one after the other.

Hope the problem is clear.

Please give a clear solution to the above problem  I am new to Amara, and has just started using it.



Below, my reply (slightly edited)

In the case you describe, I would split the 4-line subtitle into two 2-line subtitles over the 5 second scene: you can do that in translation, you don't have to stick to the splitting and timing of the original subtitles. This might trigger an alert about too fast a reading speed. In translation, you can often reduce the speed by choosing the shorter of several possible wordings: see TED Translators' great video tutorial  OTP Learning Series 05: Subtitle length and reading speed

And then, these speed alerts are only indicative. So if you really can't compress a subtitle without amputating the meaning, give priority to the content. In fact, even if the speed is really very fast, viewers always can go back to the start of the scene using the interactive transcript that can be opened via the toggle button that looks like a written page at the bottom of the Amara player. And if the Amara page was created from a YouTube video, as in the one you mentioned, viewers can access YouTube's speed control from the settings button that looks like a cogwheel (see attached screenshot of the bottom lines of the Amara player).


Another great resource for subtitle guidelines is Wiki (OTPedia):


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