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Topics in Audiovisual Translation

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106 Aline Remael

choose between rendering propositional content or dialogue’s oral and inter-

actional features.

Indeed, the redundancy typical of speech that Díaz Cintas comments on, is

also characteristic of ªlm narrative generally and operates on many textual

levels. Character interaction is supported by all of the ªlm’s sign systems, and is

designed to communicate something to the viewer, not just to the other

character. In his analysis of a few scenes from the French television drama

Châteauvallon, Mason writes about a scene in which power relations between

two characters are developed:

There are some visual clues [indicating the power game] — the election agent sits

on the desk behind which Quentin is sitting, thus reinforcing his dominance; at

the market, Berg, having made his point, moves oŸ, showing his disinterest in

prolonging the exchange; at all points, facial expressions constitute important

paralinguistic evidence in support of our interpretation of what is going on. But,

as auditors, we rely on the dialogue itself for our primary evidence of the evolution

of the exchange. (1989: 18)

Mason therefore concludes that crucial aspects of interpersonal interaction are

lost in the subtitled version. However, we are never auditors only, we are

viewers, and we are also narratees: we can ªt the present scene within the

context of the characters’ previous history, which the ªlm narrative is sure to

have developed extensively. All the same, the preliminary results of a research

project into the in¶uence of narrative norms on subtitling decisions indicate

that there may be two antipodal tendencies at work. On the one hand, the

interactional features of ªlm dialogues that seem to get lost or indeed do get

lost in a particular scene, are so closely interwoven with other aspects of the

ªlm’s semiotic functioning, that they will be compensated to a large extent.

Moreover, since subtitles do not merely delete text, but also tend to render

speech more explicit, they do more than render the basic story line. They also

tighten stories that are not so tight or that derive their charm from diversions;

but then again, interactional patterns are only compensated by the ªlm’s other

sign systems to the extent that they are story-supporting, which they usually

are in mainstream cinema, but not in more experimental ªlms. Are these

therefore more di¹cult to subtitle e¹ciently? It is an issue worth examining.1

In any case, a subtitler who is aware of ªlm dialogue’s many functions and the

way they are integrated into mainstream cinema’s extremely coherent narra-

tive structure, will produce better subtitles.

Page 122

107A place for ªlm dialogue analysis in subtitling courses

3. Some basic features of ªlm dialogue

In teaching, a two-tiered approach is therefore required. Subtitling students

must ªrst be introduced to some basic dialogue features,2 and then to how ªlm

narrative appropriates these for its own ends. First of all, ªlm dialogue diŸers

from daily conversation in that it is meant for a third party. Film dialogue is what

Bakhtin (1986) has called a secondary speech genre, which derives some of its

characteristics from the primary speech genre of daily conversation, but others

from the text or context in which it occurs. A mainstream ªlm story is highly

organised and based on the blueprint of the ªlm script, which is in its turn a

norm-bound narrative, typiªed by its character-centred, personal or psycho-

logical causality. Mainstream screenplays and ªlms have a tight dramatic

structure harking back to that of the well-made play, consisting of an Exposition,

Development, Climax and Denouement. In the screenwriting stage, dialogue

writing comes in the very last instance, after the story has been laid down, ªrst

in the synopsis and then in the treatment. This order of things inevitably shapes

the dialogue. Dramatic development is the highest hierarchical norm determin-

ing its functions, other norms bound to concerns with realism, genre or theme

are subservient to it (Remael 2000). The screenplay’s dramatic structure is

repeated on sequence and on scene level, where it is to some extent constructed

by the dialogue (cf. below). As Vanoye (1985) has pointed out, ªlm dialogue —

like theatre dialogue — always functions on two levels.

Au niveau “horizontal” de la communication des personnages entre eux […] on

voit que les maximes conversationnelles (Grice), les modèles d’échanges et d’in-

terventions (GoŸman, Roulet), les marqueurs ou connecteurs pragmatiques, ainsi

que les composantes non-verbales (regards, postures, mimo-gestualité) et para-

verbales (voix, rythmes) de la conversation rendent compte de la complexité des

interactions […] mais que la variation des échelles de plan, les cadrages, le

montage, le jeux des paroles “in” et “oŸ” ne cessent, simultanément, de structurer

ces mêmes interactions. Par ailleurs la conversation ªlmique est doublement

surdéterminée. Dans les ªlms de ªction, elle s’inscrit dans une histoire qu’elle

contribue à faire avancer […] D’une manière systématique […] la conversation

ªlmique, comme la conversation théatrale, fonctionne rétroactivement et proacti-

vement, au point précis de la diégèse et de la narration où elle se situe […] C’est

alors qu’intervient la seconde surdétermination qui tient au niveau “vertical” de

communication, entre ªlm et spectateurs. Tandis qu’une conversation entre des

gens se tient à l’écran, une histoire est racontée à (ou bien un discours est tenu à)

des spectateurs potentiels. (ibid.: 116)3

Page 241

In the series Benjamins Translation Library the following titles have been published thus
far or are scheduled for publication:

11 Comparative Stylistics of French and English. A
methodology for translation. Translated and edited by Juan C. Sager, M.-J. Hamel. 1995. xx, 359 pp.

12 Manual of Specialised Lexicography. The
preparation of specialised dictionaries. 1995. 256 pp.

13 Translators through History. 1995. xvi, 346 pp.
14 The Possibility of Language. A discussion of the nature of

language, with implications for human and machine translation. 1995. xxvi, 276 pp.
15 Knowledge and Skills in Translator Behavior. 1996. xiii, 259 pp.
16 Teaching Translation and Interpreting 3. New Horizons.

Papers from the Third Language International Conference, Elsinore, Denmark, 1995. 1996. viii, 338 pp.
17 Nonverbal Communication and Translation. New perspectives and

challenges in literature, interpretation and the media. 1997. xii, 361 pp.
18 Terminology, LSP and Translation. Studies in language engineering in honour

of Juan C. Sager. 1996. xii, 250 pp.
19 The Critical Link:

Interpreters in the Community. Papers from the 1st international conference on interpreting in legal,
health and social service settings, Geneva Park, Canada, 1–4 June 1995. 1997. viii, 322 pp.

20 Translation as
Intercultural Communication. Selected papers from the EST Congress, Prague 1995. x, 354 pp.

21 Rimbaud's Rainbow. Literary translation in higher
education. 1998. x, 200 pp.

22 Memes of Translation. The spread of ideas in translation theory. 1997.
vii, 219 pp.

23 Conference Interpreting: Current
Trends in Research. Proceedings of the International Conference on Interpreting: What do we know
and how? 1997. iv, 246 pp.

24 The Translator's Dialogue. Giovanni Pontiero. 1997.
xiv, 252 pp.

25 Translation and Creation. Readings of Western Literature in Early Modern
China, 1840–1918. 1998. vi, 336 pp.

26 Text Typology and Translation. 1997. xvi, 342 pp.
27 Translators'

Strategies and Creativity. Selected Papers from the 9th International Conference on Translation and
Interpreting, Prague, September 1995. In honor of Jiří Levý and Anton Popovič. 1998. xiv, 230 pp.

28 Simultaneous Interpretation. A cognitive-pragmatic analysis. 1999. xvi, 397 pp.
29 Translation and Interpreting in the 20th Century. Focus on German. 1999.

xiii, 256 pp.
30 Tales and Translation. The Grimm Tales from Pan-Germanic narratives to shared

international fairytales. 1999. xiv, 384 pp.
31 The Critical

Link 2: Interpreters in the Community. Selected papers from the Second International Conference on
Interpreting in legal, health and social service settings, Vancouver, BC, Canada, 19–23 May 1998. 2000.
vii, 316 pp.

32 Investigating Translation. Selected
papers from the 4th International Congress on Translation, Barcelona, 1998. 2000. xiv, 296 pp.

Getting Started in Interpreting Research. Methodological reflections, personal

accounts and advice for beginners. 2001. xiv, 255 pp.
34 (Multi) Media Translation. Concepts, practices, and

research. 2001. xx, 300 pp.

Page 242

35 SOMERS, Harold (ed.): Computers and Translation. A translator's guide. 2003. xvi, 351 pp.
36 SCHMID, Monika S.: Translating the Elusive. Marked word order and subjectivity in English-German

translation. 1999. xii, 174 pp.
37 TIRKKONEN-CONDIT, Sonja and Riitta JÄÄSKELÄINEN (eds.): Tapping and Mapping the

Processes of Translation and Interpreting. Outlooks on empirical research. 2000. x, 176 pp.
38 SCHÄFFNER, Christina and Beverly ADAB (eds.): Developing Translation Competence. 2000.

xvi, 244 pp.
39 CHESTERMAN, Andrew, Natividad GALLARDO SAN SALVADOR and Yves GAMBIER (eds.):

Translation in Context. Selected papers from the EST Congress, Granada 1998. 2000. x, 393 pp.
40 ENGLUND DIMITROVA, Birgitta and Kenneth HYLTENSTAM (eds.): Language Processing and

Simultaneous Interpreting. Interdisciplinary perspectives. 2000. xvi, 164 pp.
41 NIDA, Eugene A.: Contexts in Translating. 2002. x, 127 pp.
42 HUNG, Eva (ed.): Teaching Translation and Interpreting 4. Building bridges. 2002. xii, 243 pp.
43 GARZONE, Giuliana and Maurizio VIEZZI (eds.): Interpreting in the 21st Century. Challenges and

opportunities. 2002. x, 337 pp.
44 SINGERMAN, Robert: Jewish Translation History. A bibliography of bibliographies and studies. With

an introductory essay by Gideon Toury. 2002. xxxvi, 420 pp.
45 ALVES, Fabio (ed.): Triangulating Translation. Perspectives in process oriented research. 2003.

x, 165 pp.
46 BRUNETTE, Louise, Georges BASTIN, Isabelle HEMLIN and Heather CLARKE (eds.): The Critical

Link 3. Interpreters in the Community. Selected papers from the Third International Conference on
Interpreting in Legal, Health and Social Service Settings, Montréal, Quebec, Canada 22–26 May 2001.
2003. xii, 359 pp.

47 SAWYER, David B.: Fundamental Aspects of Interpreter Education. Curriculum and Assessment.
2004. xviii, 312 pp.

48 MAURANEN, Anna and Pekka KUJAMÄKI (eds.): Translation Universals. Do they exist? 2004.
vi, 224 pp.

49 PYM, Anthony: The Moving Text. Localization, translation, and distribution. 2004. xviii, 223 pp.
50 HANSEN, Gyde, Kirsten MALMKJÆR and Daniel GILE (eds.): Claims, Changes and Challenges

in Translation Studies. Selected contributions from the EST Congress, Copenhagen 2001. 2004.
xiv, 320 pp.

51 CHAN, Leo Tak-hung: Twentieth-Century Chinese Translation Theory. Modes, issues and debates.
2004. xvi, 277 pp.

52 HALE, Sandra Beatriz: The Discourse of Court Interpreting. Discourse practices of the law, the
witness and the interpreter. 2004. xviii, 267 pp.

53 DIRIKER, Ebru: De-/Re-Contextualizing Conference Interpreting. Interpreters in the Ivory Tower?
2004. x, 223 pp.

54 GONZÁLEZ DAVIES, Maria: Multiple Voices in the Translation Classroom. Activities, tasks and
projects. 2004. x, 262 pp.

55 ANGELELLI, Claudia V.: Revisiting the Interpreter’s Role. A study of conference, court, and medical
interpreters in Canada, Mexico, and the United States. 2004. xvi, 127 pp.

56 ORERO, Pilar (ed.): Topics in Audiovisual Translation. 2004. xiii, 225 pp.
57 CHERNOV, Ghelly V.: Inference and Anticipation in Simultaneous Interpreting. A probability-

prediction model. Edited by Robin Setton. With an introduction by Adelina Hild. xxx, 251 pp. + index.
Expected Fall 2004

58 BRANCHADELL, Albert and Lovell Margaret WEST (eds.): Less Translated Languages.
vii, 389 pp. + index. Expected Fall 2004

59 MALMKJÆR, Kirsten (ed.): Translation in Undergraduate Degree Programmes. vi, 195 pp. + index.
Expected Winter 04-05

60 TENNENT, Martha (ed.): Training for the New Millennium. Pedagogies for translation and
interpreting. Expected Winter 04-05

A complete list of titles in this series can be found on

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