November 16th, 2006

krazy koati

Every word I see, I just gotta speak

As part of local efforts to make Singapore friendlier to people who suffer from disabilities, they've taken to captioning the evening news, at least on Channel 5. I haven't been able to figure out if there's closed captioning tools here. My TV set has some option for something called Teletext wherein, if I press enough buttons, I eventually lose my ability to see any picture and instead get icons like a rectangle with the right-hand side containing greeked text in the upper right corner instead. Apparently there isn't widespread support for closed captioning in the TV sets available, though, as they went instead for direct captions.

They're pretty nice -- the lower level of the screen has about two lines worth of space greyed out, and two lines of text (in capital and lowercase) printed in white in a pleasant enough sans serifed typeface. I keep thinking that I should know the typeface, but it's been ages since I had a nice thick book of all the different ways to make an `S', so I'm just not positive. They appear to be running from the prepared script/prompter scroll, and they don't make any attempt at keeping up with live or breaking reports. These will be accompanied by text explaining why the captions aren't there, though. Since they started it a couple of weeks ago they've only had one night (that I caught) that the entire captioning system broke down (with the note that they apologized but suffered a technical fault), so apparently they got the hang of this sort of system well before going into broadcasting.

Thing that gets me is many of the English-language programs on Channel 5 will get subtitles in Chinese, to the point that it attracts my attention when they're not subtitled. Sooner or later, they're bound to add a second line to the captioning to accommodate Chinese-speakers and readers. And then there's Malay and Tamil subtitles worth including, too. Just the Chinese subtitles on most shows will conflict with the occasional episode including subtitles in its source material. If the Chinese and the show subtitles are out of synch, I can at least read them in the changeover -- I'm a very quick reader -- but when, say, Enterprise gets into showing too much Klingon nonsense it's just hairy men dressed to look unkempt growling randomly at one another, with no hope of comprehension. But the Klingons were basically that anyway.

Trivia: The coronation of George IV cost the United Kingdom's government £238,238. Source: The Invention of Tradition Edited Eric Hobsbawm, Terence Ranger.

Currently Reading: A History of Money, Glyn Davies.