The Power of Film Translation

La traducción en el cine
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  The Power of Film Translation by Agnieszka Szarkowska   Whether domesticating or foreignising in its approach, any form of audiovisual translation ultimately  plays a unique role in developing both national identities and national stereotypes. The transmission of cultural values in screen translation has received very little attention in the literature and remains one of the most pressing areas of research in translation studies. Mona Baker and Braño Hochel (1997: 76) Key words : Film translation, subtitling, dubbing, domestication, foreignisation, target culture, source culture Abstract The objective of this paper is to demonstrate the great power of film translation. This aim is accomplished by presenting the major modes of film translation, their world distribution and history, which are then followed by an analysis of dubbing and subtitling from the perspective of domestication and foreignisation. Introduction ach country cultivates a different tradition of translating films and subscribes to one of the two major modes: dubbing and subtitling as far as cinema translation is concerned, or sometimes to a third, minor, mode — voiceover  — in the case of television translation. The decision as to which film translation mode to choose is by no means arbitrary and stems from several factors, such as historical circumstances, traditions, the technique to which the audience is accustomed, the cost, as well as on the position of both the target and the source cultures in an international context (see Dries 1995). This paper will focus on cinema translation only, which is of course not to say that television translation is less worthy of academic investigation. On the contrary, analysis of television translation constitutes an excellent material for further research, and it is only disregarded here for reasons of clarity and lucidity of argumentation. The first part of this paper sets out to present the above-mentioned translation modes and their world distribution, next trying to account for them from the perspective of history and culture. Subsequently, an attempt is made to show the enormous power that these modes exert on audiences and entire cultures. The paper aims to demonstrate that dubbing is a form of domestication whereas subtitling can be regarded as foreignisation. Types of film translation There are two major types of film translation: dubbing and subtitling; each of them interferes with the srcinal text to a different extent. On the one hand, dubbing is known to be the method that modifies the source text to a large extent and thus makes it familiar to the target audience through domestication. It is the method in which the foreign dialogue is adjusted to the mouth and movements of the actor in the film (Dries 1995: 9 qtd. in Shuttleworth and Cowie 1997: 45) and its aim is seen as making the audience feel as if they were listening to actors actually speaking the target language. On the other hand, subtitling, i.e. supplying a translation of the spoken source language dialogue into the target language in the form of synchronised captions, usually at the bottom of the screen, is the form that alters the source text to the least possible extent and enables the target audience to experience the foreign and be aware of its 'foreignness' at all times.  Classification of countries by translation modes they employ Before presenting the historical circumstances and their influence on particular cultures, let us have a closer look at the division of countries according to the type of screen translation they use (as presented in The   Routledge Encyclopaedia of Translation Studies  1997: 244). The Encyclopaedia, however, does not differentiate between cinema and television translation. First, there are the source-language countries, which in the contemporary world means English-speaking countries such as the United States or the United Kingdom, where hardly any films are imported. The foreign ones tend to be subtitled rather than dubbed. In Britain, film translation does not appear to be a significant issue as the great majority of imported films are American and require no translation. Second, there are the dubbing countries, and this group comprises mainly French-, Italian- German-, and Spanish-speaking countries (sometimes referred to as the FIGS group), both in and outside Europe. In these countries the overwhelming majority of films undergo the process of dubbing. This is mostly due to historical reasons since in the 1930s dubbing became the preferred mode of film translation in the world's big-market speech communities (Gottlieb 1997: 310). Third, there are the subtitling countries, which are characterised by a high percentage of imported films, and thus there is a great and steady demand for translation. Subtitling is preferred to dubbing in countries such as the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Greece, Slovenia, Croatia, Portugal and some non-European countries. In Belgium or Finland, where there are large communities speaking two languages, films are usually provided with double subtitles. The last group, according to the Routledge Encyclopaedia, comprises voice-over countries — mostly those that cannot afford dubbing, e.g. Russia or Poland. Such a division, however, seems to be a simplification as it does not differentiate between cinema and television translation. For example, Poland is listed as a voiceover country, whereas it mostly uses subtitling in the cinemas, except for some dubbed productions for children. Furthermore, in her article about linguistic transfer in Eastern Europe, Dries stresses different patterns between Eastern and Western Europe, especially a surprising preference for dubbing in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Hungary, despite its high cost. On the whole, it can be stated that especially in Western European countries dubbing is preferred in larger and more affluent countries, which can expect high box office receipts, whereas subtitling is used in smaller ones, whose audiences comprise more restricted markets. The cost alone, however, does not define the choice of translation mode. It is history that can shed some light on the question. Conclusion Films can be a tremendously influential and extremely powerful vehicle for transferring values, ideas and information. Different cultures are presented not only verbally but also visually and aurally, as film is a polysemiotic medium that transfers meaning through several channels, such as picture, dialogue and music. Items which used to be culture-specific tend to spread and encroach upon other cultures. The choice of film translation mode largely contributes to the reception of a source language film in a target culture. On balance, there is no universal and good-for-all mode of translating films. As was stated above, the methods are dependent upon various factors, such as history, tradition of translating films in a given country, various audience-related factors, the type of film to be rendered, as well as financial resources available. What is also of primary importance here is the mutual relationship between the source and target cultures, as it will also profoundly influence the translating process.  All things considered, the two major translation modes, i.e. dubbing and subtitling, can be said to occupy the two opposite ends of the domestication-foreignisation continuum. As it was shown in this article, dubbing is a domesticating strategy which neutralises foreign elements of the source text and thus privileges the target culture. In contrast, subtitling is an example of a foreignising strategy since it stresses the foreign nature of a film and it is a source-culture-bound translation. It is clear that translated material can be domesticated or foreignised to different extents, and hence be placed somewhere along the domestication-foreignisation continuum.   References  Álvarez, Román, M. Carmen-Áfica Vidal (eds) (1996) Translation, Power, Subversion . Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.  Ascheid, Antje (1997) Speaking Tongues: Voice Dubbing in the Cinema of Cultural Ventriloquism . In The Velvet Light Trap , no. 40, p. 40. Baker, Mona (1997) Routledge Encyclopaedia of Translation Studies.  London and New York: Routledge. Cronin, Michael (1996) Translating Ireland  . Cork, Ireland: Cork University Press. Danan, Martine (1991) Dubbing as an Expression of Nationalism     Meta , XXXVI 4, pp. 606-614. Delabastita, Dirk (1990) Translation and the mass media . In Susan Bassnett and André Lefevere (eds) Translation, History and Culture . London: Pinter Publishers. Del Camino Gutiérrez Lanza, Maria (1997) Spanish Film Translation: Ideology, Censorship and the National Language . In The Changing Scene in the World Languages. American Translators  Association Scholarly Monograph Series . Vol. IX, pp. 35-45, Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company. Dries, Josephine (1995) Breaking Eastern European Barriers Sequentia , vol. II, No. 4 June/July/August 95, p. 6. Gottlieb, Henrik (1990) Quality Revisited: The Rendering of English Idioms in Danish Subtitles vs. Printed Translations . In Anna Trosborg (ed.) Text Typology and Translation , Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company. Hatim, Basil and Ian Mason (1997) The Translator as Communicator  . London: Routledge. Hendrykowski, Marek (1984) Z problemów przekładu filmowego . In Edward Balcerzan   (ed.) Wielojęzyczność literatury i problemy przekładu artystycznego , Wroclaw: Zakład Narodowy im. Ossolińskic h, pp. 243-259. Karamitroglou, Fotios (1999) Audiovisual Translation at the Dawn of the Digital Age: Prospects and Potentials Translation Journal  , vol. 3, no. 3. Retrieved 20 April 2002 from  Lefevere, André (1992) Translation / History / Culture. A Sourcebook  . London and New York: Routledge. de Linde, Zoé and Neil Kay (1999) The Semiotics of Subtitling  , Manchester: St. Jerome Publishing. Mera, Miguel (1998) Read my lips: Re-evaluating subtitling and dubbing in Europe Links & Letters 6  , 1999, pp.73-85. Munday, Jeremy (2001) Introducing Translation Studies. Theories and Applications . London and New York: Routledge. Nornes, Abe Mark (1999) For an Abusive Subtitling. Subtitles of Motion Pictures Film Quarterly  , spring 1999. Retrieved 2 May 2000 from Paquin, Robert (1998) Translator, Adapter, Screenwriter. Translating for the audiovisual Translation Journal  , vol. 2, no. 3. Retrieved 20 April 2002 from  Pieńkos, Jer  zy (1993) Przekład i tłumacz we współczesnym świecie . Warszawa: PWN. Power, Carla and Sudip Mazumdar (2000) Bollywood goes global Newsweek   Feb. 28, 2000, pp. 52-58. Robinson, Douglas (1997) Translation and Empire. Postcolonial Theories Explained  . Manchester: St. Jerome Publishing. Shuttleworth, Mark and Moira Cowie (1997) Dictionary of Translation Studies . Manchester: St. Jerome Publishing. Snell-Hornby, Mary (1988) Translation Studies. An Integrated Approach . Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Venuti, Lawrence (1998) The Scandals of Translation. Towards an Ethics of Difference , London and New York: Routledge. 1   These figures were based on three types of statistics provided by various official agencies or  governments. In some countries, the actual numbers of imported films were provided; in others, the numbers of released films were reported; in some other cases the numbers were based on films submitted for censorship. In spite of minor inconsistencies, combining the three kinds of figures provides a significant way of comparing film imports (Danan 1991: 613). Other information concerning the sources used in the chart can be found in Danan (1991) 2  Source: (January 2005) 3   At the end of the 20th century, the  Académie  is challenged with a new task. The French language has a host of qualities which for two centuries have made it the language of the elites in the entire world. Its area of influence is threatened by the expansion of English, or more precisely American English, which has been encroaching on the minds, writings, and the world of audiovisual media. The spread of English is often favoured by invasion of new technologies, rapidly developing sciences, unprecedented 'shrinking' of the world, which is facilitated by media and other communication means, and all other factors revolutionizing traditional vocabulary and quickly imposing new words onto the language. On 4  August 1994 a law was enacted concerning the use of the French language (known as the 'Toubon law'), which encourages the use of French in writings, public documents or agreements, in public services, conferences, media, etc. (translated by Magdalena Kaczorowska) 4   Movie projection in a language other than Spanish is prohibited unless permission from the Ministry of Industry and Commerce is granted; the films in question always must be dubbed. Dubbing shall be done in Spanish studios located on Spanish territory and by Spanish personnel (my translation). 5  One of the cornerstones of American foreign policy concerning, among other things, non-colonisation. 6   blindly assuming that the whole world speaks French or English (my translation) — or any other language used in dubbing, for that matter.  © Copyright Translation Journal   and the Author 2005  URL: Last updated on: 05/19/2014 05:10:44
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