While much research has proved the benefits of subtitled
audiovisuals for foreign language learning, few studies address such practices
in out-of-classroom settings or focus on Asia-based video-sharing platforms.
This study bridges this gap by introducing an increasingly popular
viewing-commenting system in Japan and China, known as danmu or
danmaku, which displays viewers’ timeline-synchronized
comments on video content. We analyse the metalinguistic comments which entail
viewers’ knowledge of the language, their comprehension issues and
sociolinguistic attitudes toward its use. Adopting an inductive or data-driven
methodology, we extracted and manually coded 390 comments that are related to
the Spanish language, Spanish–Chinese translation and learning Spanish.
Results show that viewers are mostly interested in linguistic features that
differ from Chinese or English (e.g. the complex grammar) and they use
danmu to access sociolinguistic issues that are central to
daily communication such as the fast speech rate, language varieties, and
frequent use of vulgarisms.