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ESFLCW 2007 Saarbrucken 23-25 July, 2007 Chris Taylor University of Trieste The Language of Television Series: a study of predictable patterns.

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Presentation on theme: "ESFLCW 2007 Saarbrucken 23-25 July, 2007 Chris Taylor University of Trieste The Language of Television Series: a study of predictable patterns."— Presentation transcript:

1 ESFLCW 2007 Saarbrucken July, 2007 Chris Taylor University of Trieste The Language of Television Series: a study of predictable patterns

2 Talking Points 1. Film language 2. Context and genre 3. Levels of predictability 4. Translation

3 The language of film A series of experiments conducted in Trieste over the years has shown that film language differs, often appreciably, from the language of real life (see, for example, Taylor 2005). It is more stylised, more formal, more explicit, more clearly comprehensible.

4 Communicating community context (Gregory) the context of situation, which partially reflects and partially constructs the functioning of language in conversation; In the case of film or TV series the CCC is (1) a group of actors simulating a scene in an artificially produced situation (APS). (2)a film writer communicating a message to a (largely unknown) audience.

5 Indeed… the only reason that characters talk to each other in television texts is so that the viewer can listen to them; not, as in real conversation, so that they can listen to each other, (in this sense there are overlapping contexts of situation)

6 Genre The APS can also be identified in terms of genre a configuration of meanings that are typically associated with a particular situational configuration of field, tenor and mode (Halliday & Hasan, 1985) typical configurations of the options associated with typical contexts (Navarro, 2007) pace Teun van Dijk!

7 Eggins & Slade Texts of different genres reveal different lexico-grammatical choices. Thus realization patterns will differ across genres

8

9 Filmese and genre What we know as film genres - western, spy story, comedy, etc. can be identified, also linguistically, but filmese is a cross- genre language variety… … films have their sub-genres and genrelets.

10 and it is these genrelets that are of initial interest in the tracking down of PREDICTABILITY. E.g., telephone conversations, presentations, mealtime dialogue, bar talk, boy-girl exchanges, etc.

11 Intertextuality In genrelets such as telephone call protocols, presentations, service encounters, etc. there is usually little creative language use. The same formulae are used over and over again (obligatory features), with the same cues and the same response mechanisms.

12 Parallel corpora The study of significant numbers of parallel texts available from a database of scripts shows up patterns of use, in terms of lexis, style, register and syntax. Cf. Trieste database – thousands of film and TV scripts and transcripts

13 Coffin & OHalloran implicit appraisal in one article in The Sun can only be understood by knowing lots of Sun articles. E.g. in relation to immigrants

14 TV series Similarly understanding and therefore the ability to predict outcomes and dialogue in BONANZA or CORONATION STREET or LAW and ORDER comes from being exposed to them. This is why they can be so easily mimicked.

15 Susan Hunstons semantic sequences It + BE + adjective + that clause Eg. It is clearthat….. obvious likely etc.

16 Hunston cont. These patterns are mainly used in SOME disciplines. Patterns can be seen in TV series to be used by SOME characters in SOME situations.

17 The O.C. There is much picking up of each others expressions: Are you nervous/excited/worried – You are nervous/excited/worried – Im nervous/excited/worried, Im not nervous/excited/worried, etc.

18 The Gilmore Girls 132 episodes in 6 series Desribed in the following terms: nice, warm, charming, feisty Features a single mother, her elitist parents, her determined daughter, boyfriends etc.

19 Episodes Series Two Marriage on the way Engagement party Rethinking The debutantes ball Like mother, like daughter Love risks

20 The Gilmore Girls (typical genrelet) CUT TO THE INDEPENDENCE INN [Lorelai walks into the lobby and hands a key to a bellboy.] LORELAI: Oh, here you go. BELLBOY: Thanks. [Lorelai walks to the front desk, where Michel is on the phone and sorting mail] MICHEL: Independence Inn, Michel speaking. [pause] No, I'm sorry, we're completely booked. [pause] We have a wedding party here. [pause] No, there is really nothing I can do. [pause] Yes, I'm sure. [pause] Positive. [pause] No, I don't have to look ma'am, I -- [pause] Yes, of course I'll look. [Michel puts the phone down, continues to sort the mail, then picks the phone back up.] MICHEL: No, I'm sorry, we're completely booked.

21 Repetition [Rory starts to leave then hugs Lorelai again.] RORY: I love you. LORELAI: I love you. [Rory leaves.] LORELAI: My girl's going to Chilton SOOKIE: Yeah. Rory's going to Chilton! [As Lorelai leaves, Sookie starts a little dance and begins to sing.] SOOKIE: Rory's going to Chilton! Rory's going to Chilton! Rory's going to Chilton!

22 The Gilmore Girls – frequency counts From watching any TV series one becomes aware, consciously or unconsciously, of certain lietmotifs, repeated patterns, or more than usual frequency patterns.

23 Food and Beverages frequencies - Gilmore

24 Coffee frequencies - Gilmore

25 Cf. British National Corpus - coffee BNC (100,000,000 words) Coffee – 6,286 occurrences Once every 16,000 words. Gilmore Girls (20 episodes) 150,000 words Coffee – 160 occurrences Once every 1,000 words

26 BNC spoken corpus BNC spoken corpus (10,000,000 words) Coffee – 939 occurrences Once every 10,000 words. Gilmore Girls (20 episodes) 150,000 words Coffee – 160 occurrences Once every 1,000 words

27 Sign of APS The figures merely show that the series The Gilmore Girls contains a much higher than average use of the word coffee (and other foodstuffs). This confirms an intuitive impression, suggesting that (a) the context governs language use but also (b) that a level of artificiality would seem to be confirmed. The translator must consider whether this context driven usage should be foreignised (left as it is to reflect American youngsters habits), or localised in some way (perhaps tempered to local levels of acceptance).

28 Genre – courtroom scenarios in film The film A Few Good Men (amongst others) was used as a vehicle to investigate the use of courtroom language in a modern film. External and internal definitions of genre

29 Verbal interaction in judicial settings Hearings in courts involve verbal exchanges which in many respects appear to be organised differently from talk in conversation. The distinctive character of talk in judicial settings is a recurrent theme in discussions of court proceedings by sociologists, lawyers, etc. (Atkinson and Drew, 1979)

30 Features of examination Turn order type of turn - pre-allocated - A-B, A-B Interruption legitimate from counsel Illegitimate from public Objections Overlaps Restart Pauses special strategies NB the court procedures and associated language are different in different cultures cf. America/Italy

31 A Few Good Men Call the first/next witness We call… Ive got some questions for… No more/further questions? (Ive) no more questions. The witness is excused. You may step down. Can you explain… How could you…. What happened then? Do you think/feel/intend…. Answer the question You dont have to answer that. All rise You are charged with… Court adjourned till… Objection – Sustained - Overruled

32 A Few Good Men See you in court!

33 But what happens in translation? Lets go back to the beginning: Film language is more stylised, more formal, more explicit, more clearly comprehensible.

34 Comparison Romero (2006) compared spoken Spanish from a corpus of oral Castellan with (a) a Spanish soap opera (b) the English language version of Friends (c) the dubbed Spanish version of Friends

35 Friends (English)Friends (Spanish)Siete Vidas (Spanish sitcom) CREA (Colloquial convers.) Hey Hi Hello Morning Good morning Hi there Hola Buenos días Hola Qué tal Buenos días Qué hay Qué pasa Hombre Buenas Hola Qué tal Buenos días Qué hay Qué pasa Hombre Buenas Muy buenas How are you/ya How are you doing How are things going Hows life? Hows it going How are we today Whats up? (Are) you all right (Are) you OK How you holding up Qué tal Cómo estás Qué hay Cómo te va Cómo va eso Qué tal Cómo estás Qué pasa Qué hay Cómo te va Qué hay de nuevo Cómo lo llevas Cómo andas Cómo estamos Qué tal Cómo estás Qué pasa Qué hay Cómo te va Qué hay de nuevo Cómo lo llevas Cómo andas Cómo estamos Qué (te) cuentas

36 Its more stylised, its more formal, its easier to understand…. …and for these reasons it too is more predictable.

37 Prdictable shifts in translation The O.C. What about kick off carnival, youre still the social chair. La festa dellinizio dellanno, devi organizzarla. I dont understand the mind of chicks like Summer. Le ragazzine come Summer non le capisco. Seth already has a partner La partner ce lha già. (Information structure changes to accommodate Italian youth talk, see Berruto)

38 (Adams Rib) Would your honour please instruct counselor to refrain from these sly and feminine hints to the jury? Vostro Onore, inviti la difesa a non fare insinuazioni femminili per influenzare la giuria. (Italian uses requests, exploiting the respectful subjunctive form)

39 Translation memory At times the predictability is so pronounced that an element of translation memory technique, technologically aided or otherwise, could prove useful. At least the predictability factor should be taken into account in order to save time and particularly to ensure consistency.

40 Without translation memory tools cross cultural shifts can result in inconsistency. What is involved here is the configuration of semantic resources that the members of the culture associate with a situation type (Halliday, 1978)

41 Suspect Raise your right hand, please. Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God? Alzi la mano destra per favore. Giura di dire la verità, tutta la verità e nientaltro che la verità, in nome di Dio?

42 A Few Good Men Would you raise your right hand, please. Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you will give will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God? Vuole alzare la mano destra per favore. Giura solennemente che la sua testimonianza sarà la verità, tutta la verità e nullaltro che la verità e così Dio laiuti?

43 Philadelphia Place your left hand on the Bible. Raise your right hand. Do you swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God? Metta la mano sinistra sulla Bibbia. Alzi la mano destra. Giura di dire tutta la verità e nientaltro che la verità, così Dio lassista?

44 So… translation memory techniques might be useful, in order (1) to create consistency in simulated situations across cultures; (2) to present a coherent message to the foreign langauge audience.

45 Degrees of predictability and translation Different levels of predictability need to be dealt with in different ways. Consider the strategies of NEUTRALISATION LOCALISATION FOREIGNISATION

46 Predictability cline High predictability (neutralise) Medium predictability (localise) Low predictability (foreignise)

47 Il Commissario Montalbano - caffè Michela: (bevendo il caffè) Mhm! Sì! Mimì: (guardando Montalbano versare il caffè) Ce nè magari pemmea? CM:.. Mi è venuto voglia di una bella granatina di caffè Fazio:Ho portato il… Donna:(beve lultimo sorso di caffè)

48 Montalbano - pasta con broccoli CM: Sto mangiando la pasta con broccoli, chi è che rompe… Livia:Chi ti ha preparato la pasta con broccoli? Scommetto Adelina?... Sabato mattina prendo laereo e vengo giù. CM:Sabato? Livia:Sì, sarò a Vigato per lora di pranzo. CM:Ah, benissimo..ma, sei sicura? Livia:Sicurissima. Ho già fatto il biglietto… Vai a buttare quella pasta nella spazzatura!

49 Montalbano – spigole etc. C- Dunque oggi cho pe vossia un risotto a nevuro di siccia chè megghio e na cassata. M- Per me va bene, per lei? B- Anche per me va bene. M- Aggiudicato. C- Ah, per secondo carissimo dottore Montalbano ci sono delle spigole freschissime pescate stanotte oppure… M- No, per me va bene le spigole senza oppure, per lei? B- Anche per me va bene. M- Aggiudicato.

50 Neutralisation (1) Caffè = coffee (2) Pasta con broccoli = pasta with broccoli (3) Spaghetti con sugo di ricci, risotto a nevuro di siccia, na cassata, spigole freschissime pescate stanotte, spaghetti, rice, cake, fish.

51 Localisation 1) Caffè must be rendered more English, ironically through the use of explicit markers – cappucino, espresso, latte, etc. – depending on which of these is considered the most universal. (2) Pasta con broccoli may be changed to something more recognisably Italian such as spaghetti bolognese or lasagne. It depends on whether it can be seen. (3) Spaghetti con sugo di ricci, risotto a nevuro di siccia, na cassata, spigole freschissime pescate stanotte, can be changed to recognisable English/American dishes – spaghetti with meatballs, sausages, ice cream, snapper.

52 Foreignisation (1) Caffè remains – its meaning is known and is always straight espresso. (2) Pasta con broccoli is a leitmotif of the series and can be left as it is. (3) Spaghetti con sugo di ricci, risotto a nevuro di siccia, na cassata, spigole freschissime pescate stanotte, can be left and simply understood as Italian dishes.

53 Conclusion 1 The APS created for film produces a kind of language that is already more predictable than spontaneous discourse in that it is more stylised, more formal, more explicit, more clearly comprehensible.

54 Conclusion 2 The translation of this filmese can often create an even greater degree of predictability, both in translation choices and in decisions relating to morpho- syntactic construction in the translators mother tongue.

55 Conclusion 3 WHERE THE TEXT IS HIGHLY PREDICTABLE there is a place in film translation (in the broadest sense), in subtitling but also in dubbing, for the judicious use of some kind of translation memory tool (eg, Atrils Dejà vu). Although this would require very careful editing it could save a lot of time and provide much needed consistency

56 Conclusion 4 WHERE TEXTS ARE NOT VERY PREDICTABLE translation choices may lie between foreignisation, localisation and standardisation. The choice will depend on such factors as the prestige of the film or given audience tastes.

57 Conclusion 5 WHERE TEXTS ARE GOVERNED BY CULTURAL MORES predictability can be largely discounted, firstly in the patterns of the source language, and particularly in translation. Here the translator is on his/her own in gauging to what extent the audience is attuned to the mind set of the source text culture.

58 Conclusion 6 Practically all films (or TV series, or documentaries, or advertisements, or cartoons…) will contain stretches covered by conclusions 1, 2 or 3. The special skill of the translator lies also in identifying these stretches and treating them accordingly.


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