Presentation on theme: "Subtitling in the Multimodal Context of Translated Film"— Presentation transcript:
1Subtitling in the Multimodal Context of Translated Film Chris TaylorUniversity of TriesteKristiansand 21 October 2005
2SUBTITLESThe basic premise of this talk is that subtitles, as a semiotic resource, ADD to the meaning-making potential of a multimodal text such as a TV ad. or a film.If they are done well (a huge provviso) they ADD to the pleasure, interest, emotion or other cognitive process experienced by the viewer.They ADD to and do not detract from the hermeneutic process as a whole.
3TRANSLATED FILMFilm has been translated since its earliest beginnings in the silent era.And in the beginning… there weresubtitlesintertitlesEg ‘The Clash of Wlolves’
5multimodal text within a multimodal text Modern subtitles also perform this function in a more subtle way.For example Kubrick’s ‘Barry Lyndon’, a film in any case much given to the visual verbal channel – information, comments, letters, dicuments, etc.
6Barry LyndonThe seduction scene between Barry and Lady Lyndon is based exclusively on a long series of knowing glances. Schubert and the ‘Faites vos jeux’ of the gaming tables provide the background.There is only one utterance, on the part of Lady lyndon: “Samuel, I’m going outside for a breath of fresh air”
7Barry Lyndon subtitled A subtly placed, clear to read subtitle hereSamuel, esco a prendere un po’ d’ariaaccompanying the lady as she moves out to the veranda and also Barry’s self-congratulatory expression, adds to the complicity and avoids the intrusion of an alien voice where the enunciation is brimming with covert intent.
8but with talkies……came the advent of dubbing especially in those countries with strict laws governing the intrusion of foreign languages (and cultures).… and the larger European countries have continued along this path, achieving excellent results.
9but led Sergio Viaggio to say “Film dubbing is the least studied of all the branches of translation”…. and subtitling?
10The subtitling vs. dubbing debate Views differ considerably, but a recently published work in Italy lays the battle ground in no uncertain terms.‘Tradurre per il doppiaggio’ Paolinelli and Di Fortunato.After a detailed consideration of the financial aspects, the authors list the drawbacks of subtitling…
11Drawbacks1. Reduction of text (eg. ‘Natural Born Killers’ 9,758 words to 12,737);2. Invasion of screen;3. Reading takes up half length of film!4. Continuous jumping from centre to bottom of screen;5. No pedagogic value in context of cinema;AND
12The main drawback?6. Subtitles, given the preponderance of audiovisual material of foreign origin, give more ‘nobility’ to the source text than the target text, and are therefore an instrument of creeping linguistic and cultural colonialism.
13… there’s worse to come“I sottotitoli, quindi, si riducono a un semplice ausilio alla comprensione della trama, ma non possono, per ragioni strutturali, svolgere nessuna funzione di trasposizione linguistica.”Subtitles are a mere guide to understanding but for structural reasons unable to fulfil any language transposition function.
14… and more“Laddove poi – ci riferiamo in particolare ai film comici – il dialogo si fonda su giochi o ripetizioni di parole, il sottotitolo è costretto a distruggere la coerenza del discorso, e con esso l’espressione comica”.Where there are plays on words or repetition subtitles necessarily ruin the coherence of the discourse and any comic element gets lost.
15other typical shortcomings all seeming redundancy is eliminated;translation is limited to an understanding of the plot;the ideational function of language is favoured at the expense of the interpersonal and the textual
16how?Typical interpersonal markers of a verbal nature (discourse markers, phatic devices, hedges, etc.) are omitted.The textual function is mostly present in the other semiotic modalities – a mere list of subtitles lacks many cohesive and structural components.
17but in favour of subtitling… Hofstadter“In America we tend not to dub movies, to my personalrelief, so that we can experience the original voices and thealien phonemes of a foreign film. …Subtitles are not a replacement of anything, but anaddition to a film – they form an overlay, so that one has akind of simultaneous bicultural interpretation of what isgoing on.”Multimodality in the service of intercultural communication.
18Ivarsson “People want to hear the languages of the rest of the world, but they want to be surethey have understood them in their owntongue too….… SUBTITLES SEEM TO BE THE ANSWER”
19But where do subtitles fit in the wider translation picture? “The qualities of a good translator are notfew”Martin Luther“We are bound in two ways: to our mothertongue and to the mother tongue of the textwe are translating”Martin Heidegger
20Delisle and Woodsworth “Translators (are) importers of foreigncultural values and key players at some ofthe greatest moments in history…….. (they) have played a determining role inthe development of their societies.
21Voltaire“Woe to the makers of literal translations, who by rendering every word weaken the meaning!”
22…but none of these people were thinking about subtitles… …and we are dealing with a recognisable variation on the general theme
23Dolet (1540)The translator must fully understand the sense and meaning of the original, although he is at liberty to clarify obscurities;The translator should have a perfect knowledge of both SL and TL;The translator should avoid ‘word for word’ renderings;The translator should use forms of speech in common use;The translator should choose and order words appropriately to produce the correct tone.
24Ivarsson and Carroll’s ‘good practice’ 1. Subtitlers must always work with a copy of the production, a copy of the dialogue list and a glossary…2. It is the subtitler’s job to spot the production and translate and write the subtitles in the language required.3. Translation quality must be high with due consideration of all idiomatic and cultural nuances.4………
25so what are subtitles?“an independent stratum midway between speech and writing”Kovacicor a subcategory of either?(Answers please)
26but now let’s move to… MULTIMODAL TEXTS “Multimodality refers to the diverse ways in which a number of distinct semiotic resource systems are both co-deployed and co-contextualised in the making of a text-specific meaning”.Paul Thibault
29Application of multimodal transcription to film translation BY- simplifying the descriptions- doubling up some columns- eliminating other columns- adding a translation columnthe MT proved useful in deciding translation strategies for subtitling film.
37Comment 4These are not intrusive titles and can blend in perfectly with the holistic original product.
38Comment 5“In definitiva, i sottotitoli dovranno risultare parte del film e la loro integrazione con l’originale sarà tale che essi diventeranno, pardossalmente, invisibili.”Nironi(Subtitles must be part of the film and their integration with the original must be such that they become, paradoxically, invisible)
39in terms of … good practice The subtitler should be aware that the translated title forms part of a multimodal whole and seek the best way to integrate it with the other semiotic modalities present.
41Gottliebian thoughtsThe fact that subtitles are additive leads us to compute them into our multimodal scheme, and the fact that they are synchronous makes their function as an integrated element clear.And of course Gottlieb tells us that they are polymedial.
42Gottlieb in TriesteHG laid great emphasis on the aesthetic appearance of the titles (clarity, non intrusiveness, perfct synchronisation, acccessability) as well as their meaning-making role.
43so now in answer to Mario Paolinelli Comparing the dubbed and subtitled versions of the Marx Brothers’ ‘Animal Crackers’, and considering the following scene, the authors criticise the subtitled version…
44Example from ‘Animal Crackers’ Ex- pres: President Wagstaff, now that you have stepped into my shoes…Wagstaff: Oh, is that what I stepped in? I wondered… If these are your shoes, the least you could do was have them cleaned.(Groucho looks down with a look of disgust)
45Subtitles Ex- pres: Ora che lei è nei miei panni… Wagstaff: Mi chiedevo di chi erano! Poteva farli lavare.(literal translation)Ex- pres: Now that you are in my clothes…Wagstaff: I wondered whose they were. You could have had them washed.
46DubbingEx- pres: Professor Wagstaff, ora che si è messo nei miei piedi…Wagstaff: Ah, lì mi sono messo. Ecco da dove esala. Se questi sono i suoi, li mandi in lavanderia!(literal translation)Ex- pres: Now that you have put yourself in my feet…Wagstaff: Oh, there I put myself. That’s where the smell comes from. If these are yours,send them to the laundry.
47Well…The dubbed version uses an expression that does not exist in Italian (or English).The subtitled version uses the equivalent colloquial expression in Italian and is nice and succinct.The visual element (Groucho looking down at his feet and wrinkling his nose) is not misleading.THE WHOLE POINT IS THAT IN A MULTIMODAL TEXT THE MEANING COMES FROM ALL SIDES AND THESE SUBTITLES FIT IN WELL WITH THE REST OF THE SEMIOTIC BATTERY.
48Natural Born KillersThe main objection to the subtitling of NBK was that the translation of the constant background of radio and television noise was sacrificed because of the ‘inevitable’ condensation requirement.But the meaning conveyed by this component was the evil influence of irresponsible (American) media and this proved clear from the general context of the film, particularly as heard in the original language.This is the beauty of the multimodal text.
49Shortcomings revisited regarding the ‘inevitable’ condensationall seeming redundancy is eliminated;translation is limited to an understanding of the plot.
50The Gottlieb Strategies TRANSFEREXPANSIONCONDENSATIONDECIMATIONDELETIONPARAPHRASEIMITATIONTRANSCRIPTIONDISLOCATIONRESIGNATION
51Caro DiarioAnnalisa Sandrelli subjected Nanni Moretti’s ‘Caro Diario’ to a thorough Gottliebian investigation by analysing the English and Spanish subtitled versions.
54More objectionsPaolinelli agrees that subtitlers need to possess “ottime qualità di analisi linguistica” as well as “grande familiarità con i meccanismi narrativi cinematografici”, but suggests that few practitioners possess these qualities.So let’s take a look at some subtitling from a multimodal point of view.
56Ae Fond KissThis multimodal text is pregnant with explicit and covert meaning:The tradition of the school in the private singing lessons cf. rough Glasgow background.The enthusiasm of the teacher towards the girl who can’t sing;The Scots accents of the (middle class) Pakistanis.
57Ae Fond Kiss 2 This text cries out for subtitles: 1 to hear the different accents (Irish, Scots Scots, Pakistani Scots) - dubbing neutralises this aspect;2. The words of the song are in any case unintelligible and would be farcical dubbed into another language;3. The overlapping chat in the garden (which gives the scene such texture) does not require explicitation – dubbing would have to be selective and would remove this important component completely.
58Ae Fond Kiss subtitles 00:06:54:02 00:06:55:20 Ci sei? Bene. 00:06:54:02 00:06:55:20Ci sei? Bene.00:07:02:22 00:07:09:01Un tenero bacio,e poi ci separeremo
59Subtitles 2 00:07:39:16 00:07:41:18 cosi' ti puoi fare 00:07:39:16 00:07:41:18cosi' ti puoi fareun'idea di come sara'.00:07:41:18 00:07:44:12Okay, allora facciamo una prova!Aspetta un attimo.00:07:44:18 00:07:46:21- Guarda un po'... Vado?- Si', certo, vai.
60Ae Fond Kiss - commentary Within the multimodal text the subtitles leaveuntouched the other semiotic modalitiesthe perspective in the various shots;the colours in the garden;the gaze vectors of the characters;the embarrassed body language of the girl;the clumsy movement of the father,AND PARTICULARLY- the suprasegmental elements –the accents of the characters and the spontaneous nature of the exchanges.
61Film LanguageRecalling the lack of interpersonal markers in subtitles, it must be pointed out that film language itself has been shown to be lacking in this respect.
66Philadelphia transcription Chandra:Okay, now, you gonna wanna apply the foundation as evenly as you can Andy, okay? ‘Cos you don’t want to look like you’ve thrown it on with a spoon, okay? So, okay, you try it.
67Philadelphia - dubbing Il fondotinta va applicato il più uniformemente possibile. Perché non sembri che te lo sei spalmato con un cucchiaio.
68neutralisationThe risk of neutralising is ever present in film translation, but as the example shows, it is as present in dubbing as it is in subtitling. But at least in subtitling the original ‘spoken’ language can be heard.Furthermore, as Kovacic exhorts, there is no reason why subtitles should not capture elements of ‘interpersonal’ language use.
69An example from TV Six Feet Under The American TV programme ‘SIx Feet Under’, set in a funeral home, exploits black humour and taboo language.For the Italian audience both dubbed and subtitled versions were produced.A study has shown that reactions to the programme were different depending on the translation mode adopted.(Bucaria, University of Bologna)
70Six Feet Under 2Trials were carried out on sample groups selected according to age, sex, education, geographical location, etc.As was expected, reactions to the programme differed between, for example, old ladies in traditional country villages and urban student populations.
71Six Feet Under 3But interestingly the dubbed version produced less disapproval among the ‘traditional’ viewers than the subtitled version.The reason, it emerged from questionnaires, was that the dubbing attenuated many of the taboo expressions and tempered the elements of black (sick) humour.
72Six Feet Under 4This finding explodes the myth that written texts tend to neutralise creative spoken language. The ‘return to the written’ can prove a powerful integrating forceIn the case of SFU, the subtitles ADD spice to the show in written form integrating with (1) the verbal force that can be heard in voice prosody and (2) the facial gestures that accompany ribald talk.
73a drawback of dubbingThe most obvious drawback of dubbing, which emerges clearly from this example, is that it can cheat. Particularly in TV productions, the dubbed version can stray from the original way beyond what can be accepted as ‘equivalent effect’.eg. Friends
74Impact on studentsIn general they favour subtitles, and many have attempted to make their own subtitled versions of films, encouraged to use (not always successfully) the strategies they have learned in creating a more complete MULTIMODAL TEXT.
75An example - OccidentThe work of a (Rumanian) student who wished to show the inaccuracy of the English subtitled version and produce a more accurate Italian version of her own.She succeeds despite the amateur attempt at synchrony.The interesting thing is the text works even with two sets of titles ‘cluttering up’ the screen.It is another multimodal text.