Audiovisual Translation
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Audiovisual Translation


Frederic Chaume

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  1. 208 pages
  2. English
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eBook - ePub

Audiovisual Translation


Frederic Chaume

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Audiovisual Translation: Dubbing is an introductory textbook that provides a solid overview of the world of dubbing and is fundamentally interactive in approach. A companion to Audiovisual Translation: Subtitling, it follows a similar structure and is accompanied by downloadable resources.

Based on first-hand experience in the field, the book combines translation practice with other related tasks – usually commissioned to dialogue writers and dubbing assistants – thus offering a complete introduction to the field of dubbing. It develops diversified skills, presents a broad picture of the industry, engages with the various controversies in the field, and challenges prevailing stereotypes. The individual chapters cover the map of dubbing in the world, the dubbing market and professional environment, text segmentation into takes or loops, lip-syncing, the challenge of emulating oral discourse, the semiotic nature of audiovisual texts, and specific audiovisual translation issues. The book further raises a number of research questions and looks at some of the unresolved challenges of this very specific form of translation. It includes graded exercises covering core skills that can be practised in class or at home, individually or collectively. The accompanying downloadable resources contain sample film material in Dutch, English, French, Italian and Spanish, as well as a range of useful material related to professional practice.

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1. Translation for dubbing

1.0 Preliminary discussion

(a) Do you see dubbing as a question of translation or adaptation? What are the reasons for your opinion?
(b) Make a list of situations in which dubbed audiovisual texts are consumed in your country. How are cartoons translated in your country?
(c) Does dubbing give you a sense of access, of immediacy, or does it feel like a barrier?
(d) Do you associate dubbing with oppressive and totalitarian regimes? Or do you rather consider it to be a question of choice and audience preferences?
(e) Do you prefer dubbing or subtitling, or do you have no preference? Give reasons for your choice.
(f) Have you noticed a shift from subtitling to dubbing – or vice versa – in your country?
Dubbing is one of the major modes of screen or audiovisual translation carried out all over the world. This first chapter proposes a definition, presents a discussion on where dubbing fits into the field of audiovisual translation, gives an overview of dubbing in different parts of the world, and, finally, an outline of some acknowledged quality standards in this audiovisual translation mode.

1.1. Definition

Dubbing is a type of Audiovisual Translation (AVT) (see §1.2) mainly used in Europe (Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Turkey, etc.), the Americas (Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, etc., although mostly on TV), some Asian countries (China, Japan, Korea) and some North African countries. Technically, it consists of replacing the original track of a film’s (or any audiovisual text) source language dialogues with another track on which translated dialogues have been recorded in the target language. The remaining tracks are left untouched (the soundtrack – including both music and special effects – and the images). The term revoicing is also sometimes used as a synonym for dubbing, but revoicing also includes intralingual postsynchronization, i.e., when the original film dialogues are subsequently recorded in a studio in the same language to prevent noise and interference when filming on location. However, when revoicing is used as a synonym for dubbing or interlingual postsynchronization, the term includes all revoicing types (dubbing itself, partial dubbing, narration or voice-over, etc.).
Dubbing is one of the oldest modes of audiovisual translation. Its origins can be traced back to the late 1920s, when the need first arose to transfer the new sound films to other languages and countries. Multilingual movies (see §1.4) were initially introduced as a solution, but were later abandoned because of the high production costs involved, and their unpopularity with foreign audiences who wanted to see the original actors and actresses on screen rather than their local counterparts. Subtitling also fell out of favour in some countries due to factors such as low literacy levels, linguistic chauvinism and reluctance to learn new languages in countries where major languages were spoken, or where there was a solid financial basis to meet the high costs of dubbing.
The circumstances were therefore ripe for sound engineers to invent and improve a kind of revoicing known as dubbing. Although the first dubbings were technically poor and met with a very icy reception, dubbing voices – voice talents – gradually became more credible, lip-syncing improved and translators and dialogue writers began to produce convincing scripts. These scripts ideally had to meet all the demands of the different synchronization types (see §4.1.1, §4.1.2 and §4.1.3), but still created the illusion of original dialogues (for an extensive review of the history of dubbing and audiovisual translation see Izard 1992 and 2001; Ivarsson 2002; Díaz Cintas 2003; Díaz Cintas and Remael 2007; and Chaume 2004a and 2010).
Almost a century later, dubbing is more widespread than ever: cartoons for younger children are dubbed all over the world; even countries that have historically resisted dubbing like Portugal, Denmark and Norway are beginning to dub some teen TV series and films (teen pics) (ChorĂąo 2012; Tveit 2009); in Russia, dubbing is gradually replacing the once predominant voice-over mode, South American soap operas are also now dubbed in Greece, and some Turkish and South American soap operas are dubbed in the Maghreb. Dubbing has also moved into other complex audiovisual translation modes: in videogame localization, especially in blockbusters, dialogues are usually dubbed; some commercials are dubbed even in traditional subtitling countries; fandubbing is becoming internationally popular; DVDs may include dubbings into traditional subtitling languages; dubbing is also used to teach foreign languages, and so forth. It seems that in the new world of Ă -la-carte services, audiences can now actively choose their preferred audiovisual mode, product and platform, whenever they want.

1.2 Dubbing as a type of Audiovisual Translation

Audiovisual Translation is an academic concept that is slowly penetrating both the old and new sound and image post-production markets, where the term – not the audiovisual transfer practices themselves – was previously unknown. The same term is now used in most European languages, especially since the turn of the new century: traducciîn audiovisual, traduction audiovisuelle, traduzione audiovisiva, audiovisuelles Übersetzen, etc. This reflects a clear acceptance of the term, at least in academic circles, after years of tentative provisional terms such as cinematographic translation, film translation, translation for TV, screen translation, subordinated translation, media translation, or multimedia translation (see Chaume 2004a, for an extensive review of the evolution of this concept). It is a generic term, as opposed to written and oral translation; in other words, it does not fall into the same set as legal translation, scientific translation, medical translation, literary translation, and the like, since audiovisual texts can cover any of the subjects dealt with by the different specialized translation fields.
AVT is an academic umbrella term that covers both well-established and ground-breaking linguistic and semiotic transfers of audiovisual texts (Kretschmer 2011). Some related professional practices such as advertising translation comic translation or videogame localization have recently joined this large set of audiovisual transfer modes and have been incorporated into the multimedia translation world.
Dubbing is just one way to translate audiovisual texts. Subtitling is the other major audiovisual translation mode and it is used in many more countries all over the world (see Díaz Cintas and Remael 2007, the most comprehensive volume on subtitling to date). New kinds of subtitling, like surtitling (or supertitling) for the opera and theatre, and respeaking through speech recognition (see the ground-breaking volume by Romero Fresco 2011) are penetrating the new audiovisual translation market. Subtitles’ oldest relatives, however, were intertitles, or title cards (Díaz Cintas and Remael 2007:26), which, according to these authors, were a piece of filmed, printed text that appeared between the scenes of silent movies.
Revoicing modes include experiments in partial dubbing, used to dub the leading characters of a film (normally a male voice for a male character, and a female voice for a female or child character, although sometimes a child’s voice was used to dub child characters), whereas the remaining secondary characters were voiced-over (Hendrickx 1984). Voice-over is another type of revoicing, where the original source language track of an audiovisual text is overlapped with another track on which translated dialogues in the target language are recorded, such that both tracks can be heard simultaneously. Normally the translation is heard a few seconds after the original voices, which are heard at a much lower volume. Voice-over is the most common mode of AVT used to revoice documentaries, interviews, advertorials – advertisements in the form of an editorial – and infomercials in western countries. In some other countries, especially in Eastern Europe, it is also used to revoice fiction films and TV series. Voice-over is also called Gavrilov dubbing in Russia, named after one of the most famous Russian dubbers; it is also known as single-voice translation, especially in Poland (jednogƂosĂłwka, but also szeptanka or whispering and wersja lektorska, wersja z lektorem, i.e., version with reader), where only one voice (called the lektor, or reader) is used for all the characters in a film. It is also used in Bulgaria and Mongolia. Voice-over is not necessarily a kind of revoicing. It is also “the voice communicating unseen on an audio track used in radio, television, film, multimedia, or the business world” (Wright and Lallo 2009), but this is a broader definition of the term, related to the voice talents’ industry. Narration is simply a kind of voice-over, where the translation has been summarized. Free-commentary is a variation of voice-over and dubbing, where a comedian manipulates the translation for humoristic purposes and adds jokes or funny comments, either dubbed or voiced-over. This mode includes the popular Goblin translations, which are Russian parodies of awkward translations presented in the Russian film market, where characters speak quite differently from their original counterparts – for example, in the translation of The Lord of the Rings (Peter Jackson 2001, 2002 and 2003) trilogy. Simultaneous interpreting in film festivals is another AVT mode, although it is much less common nowadays due to the new technological advances that allow translations to be made available quickly. For an extensive review of AVT types, see Luyken et al. 1991; Gambier 2000; DĂ­az Cintas 2003; Chaume 2004a; Bartoll 2008 – who suggests up to thirteen AVT types, although his classification is somewhat controversial – and HernĂĄndez BartolomĂ© and Mendiluce 2005, who propose seventeen types.
Fortunately, accessibility has also been embraced by the field of AVT, and subtitling for the deaf and the hard of hearing (SDH), audiodescription for the blind and the partially sighted (AD), audiosubtitling (the reading aloud of subtitles and of the audiodescribed script for blind audiences), and sign language translation are now gradually being integrated into our daily consumption of audiovisual texts.
Access to the Internet has brought us more democratic choices in the way we consume audiovisual texts. The availability of new technologies has turned amateur dubbing and subtitling into a reality. Fansubbing (sometimes subbing) is the domestic subtitling by fans of TV series, films or cartoons (especially anime) before they are released in the fan’s country (see Díaz Cintas and Remael 2007:26). A parallel definition can be given of fandubbing (usually spelt fundubbing, especially when the dubbing is done for humoristic purposes), domestic dubbings of trailers and cartoons that have not yet reached the fans’ country.
In spite of the illegal status of this activity, fans download clips and use computer dubbing programs (Windows Movie Maker, DubIt, Divace Lite and Divace Solo, Video Rewrite, VirtualDub, Pinnacle Systems, etc. – see Martí Ferriol 2009 –, many of which are freely available on the Internet) to erase the original soundtrack and record their alternative soundtrack using their own voices and a microphone. They translate the dialogues and record them, matching the translation with the screen actors’ mouths. The results are far from professional, since just one person interprets all the characters and voices, and the soundtrack is lost altogether (special effects and songs), but they are not intended to be professional. Fandubs are made by fans for fans – and, sometimes, for fun with comical effects – in an attempt to overcome the linguistic barriers of the original texts and to popularize products with a limited distribution in the target language.
Finally, new devices and new genres demand new complex modes of audiovisual translation, usually a combination of pre-existing formats (i.e. dubbing + subtitling, etc.). Dubbing and subtitling are gradually being incorporated into videogame localization, although with notable differences from conventional dubbing and subtitling (Granell, 2010). Commercials and infomercials may also be dubbed and subtitled. Webtoons are usually dubbed, whereas webinars – workshops or le...

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