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Towards a Consistent approach in Audio-visual Translation: Is a standardised approach Pragmatic?

Towards a Consistent approach in Audio-visual Translation: Is a standardised approach Pragmatic?

The past few decades have seen an increase in the number of studies published in audio-visual translation (AVT). According to Chiaro (2008), is considered as an overlapping umbrella term that incorporates ‘multimodal translation’, ‘multimedia translation’ and ‘screen translation’. Audiovisual translation is generally a translation of verbal component of the video (Matkivska, 2014). It is an intricate field where researchers have continuously recognised its multidisciplinary nature especially with the advancement of technology within the 21st century. There are two established types of AVT; (1) subtitling and (2) dubbing. Subtitling is defined as “the written translation that accompanies video and audio” while dubbing is defined as “the incorporation of a new audio track in another language, instead of the original language” (Cohen, 2015). The use of either methods involves various alterations to the original source which may distort the originally intended message to some extent. Moreover, they have their unique benefits and face their fair share of challenges. This has led to the formulation of various adaptation strategies incorporating consumer considerations in terms of the consistency of the message they receive, and the adaptations of the AVT translation strategies. However, the lack of consistency in AVT strategies has been cited as a major concern within the field.

Statement of Problem


The research focuses on the literature gap in ascertaining if a consistent approach can be adopted in audio-visual translation in contemporary films. It was identified after an in-depth analysis of previous research focusing on audio visual translation of contemporary films either using subtitling or dubbing for foreign audiences. The predominance of errors and pragmatic


interferences in translations necessitate the institution of additional research that identifies ways to increase the reliability of translation techniques and consequently ensure the interpretations that resemble the original source. The study will attempt to collect the “best evidence”, create an integrated approach to audio-visual translation, and empirically investigate the developed model in various settings to investigate if a standardised approach can be applicable in a practical situation.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to determine if a standardised approach towards audio-visual translation is possible. The research is vital in developing the field of AVT by providing additional insight regarding the development of a consistent approach towards translation of messages to foreign audiences.

Research Question/Hypothesis

For the purpose of this study, the following questions will be addressed:

How can a consistent approach for audio-visual translation for contemporary films be developed?

Is a standardised approach for audio-visual translation pragmatic? As part of this research, the study will include one hypothesis: H1: A standardised approach for audio-visual translation is applicable towards a real-life situation.

Theoretical Framework

The research will be grounded in pragmatics; a field of study usually concerned with the usage of language in social contexts and how individuals in communicative situations convey and manipulate meaning. It is an area that comprises of four fields of study. These include the study


of what the speakers convey, the exploration of contextual meaning, the study of how messages get communicated rather said and the expression of relative distance. In this regard, pragmatics may be represented as a focus on how meaning is constructed by various speakers across cultures and linguistic contexts. Since the segment developed as a part of linguistics in the 1970s, pragmatics has been used to cover communicative practices in film dialogues and their interlingual elements and may be since a useful tool in this research.

Literature Review

According to Gambier (2009), the field of audio-visual translation has seen attracted interest from numerous English scholars. Majority of these researchers have been attracted to AVT due to its widespread use in mass communication and due to its multi-dimensional nature of the text itself. Co-existence of many semantic marks that make up a connotation offers transfer from one semiologic compound into another in the audio-visual translation There is a considerable amount of consensus that AVT is an intricate activity usually under the influence of a plethora of factors. Consequently, a number of studies have emerged in a bid to analyse and clarify concepts as AVT expands within contemporary culture. Despite the significant progress made in the field, it is imperative to point out that there still exists some discord among scholars due to terminology. According to Cho (2012), terms such as ‘multimedia translation’, ‘screen translation’ and ‘film and TV translation’ were still in use several years ago. These expressions depict the developments in phenomena in audio-visual translation that have occurred over the years. In the early 21st century, works published by Henrik Gottlieb sought to popularise ‘screen translation’, defined as "the translation of transient polysemiotic texts presented on screen to mass audiences.” However, the term “audio-visual translation” was soon popularised in scholarly works and became the most acceptable label of the field of study


Majority of contemporary scholars within the field agree that AVT was generally a neglected field in the 20th century.. According to Gambier (2009), although film and television were analysed from myriad perspectives, language was not considered as vital criterion. Moreover, Gulliot (2016) labels AVT as a relatively young field of study where theory is not widely established; in fact, Cho (2012) asserts “that theory is not extensively known or considered as essential or integral, exclusively to academics outside of this sphere” (p. 378). Luyken et al. (1991) asserted that the lack of scholarly and theoretical knowledge in audio-visual media could be linked to the relative lack of multi-disciplinary knowledge, non-availability of dialogue lists and corpus related problems. Its atheoretical nature is also attributed to the lack of knowledge among practitioners where dubbing and subtitling are views are not viewed as translation. However, with the increasing recognition of AVT as a field in itself, there is room for the development of viable scholarly insight and knowledge about the subject.

Much of existing AVT research has focused on the two most prevalent options of subtitling and dubbing. Rader et al. (2016) highlight that the largest percentage of this research focuses on the various challenges facing AVT. In subtitling, practitioners often encounter difficulties in space and time that limit the representation of the message in favour of a concise translation. There also problems in dubbing. The most prevalent is synchronisation, where the AVT is expected to match to the visual work. In most cases, alterations are made to offer better representation hence distort the original meaning. The aforementioned challenges present a sample of the various challenges faced in translation. When other factors such as cultural references are considered, then the process of AVT becomes increasingly complicated. Translators may often replace the initial cultural reference with another similar but not


completely identical reference. In such as case, the translation ends up mixing up the original and implied meanings of the reference to the foreign audience.

Ramièr (2003) demonstrated the issues of cultural transfers in audio visual translation. In her research, the author embarks on a study of observing any form of consistency in AVT strategies aimed at the translation of culturally bound references. According to Matkivska (2014), the term “strategy” has a narrow and broad interpretation in translation studies. The author states that it can be described “as a set of rules and principles which a translator uses to reach the aim determined by the translation situation in the most effective way”(p. 42) The author reveals deep links between language and culture in specific contexts as well as the accompanying challenges in actualising an effective translation. With the social occurrence of globalization, translators tackle the exigent need to interpret films in short periods and yet, yield high quality works modern. In this case, choosing global strategies for the translators should follow regarding all the product. In this case, scholars are charged with the role of developing the theoretical backgrounds for carrying out audio-visual translations and overcoming various challenges and constrains. While most studies have focused on language and cultural constraints, this study seeks to address the time constraints through the proposal of a standard strategy that can be applied to during AVT to shorten the translation times while maximising on the quality of the content produced


The methodology chapter outlines the way in which the researcher has conducted the study. The main areas of methodology encompass the research philosophy, strategy of the research, research tactic, sampling technique, data collection method , data analysis and ethical issues pertaining to the research. The main research philosophy in this research will be


positivism, which is based on the descriptive type of approach. The positivist theory explains the occurrences of the real world through systematic reasoning and logical analysis. The research adopts a descriptive design being a study that utilizes a case study as a basis for exploratory research.

The research will deal with an amalgamation of primary and secondary data. In this case, the primary data is the new data that is collected raw. Secondary data is collected by someone else different from the researcher and has been modified by statistical processing using mathematical tools and modelling software. In descriptive research, there are numerous methods to gather the prime data (Patton, 2005). These include systems such as observing the comportment of the customers, directly interacting with the research participants, guiding a survey or through personal interaction with the subjects. In this case, the research will utilise published sources of secondary articles which comprise peer-reviewed journals and books from recognized authors.

Many unexpected circumstances may interfere with the process of gathering the data. The researcher may not correctly record the respondents’ opinion. In the observational method, there are two types of techniques: structured and unstructured. Structured observation is when the observation is characterized by recording statements systematically while standardizing the conditions of the observation. When it is done in an unsystematic manner without a proper plan of action, it is called an unstructured observation. When the observer himself is an active participant of the group he is observing, then this type of observation is called participant observation. In this type of observation, the researcher can notice the subtle points and nuances of behaviour of the chosen group more accurately. When the researcher is observing the respondents without being intrusive in their lives in the home, then it is called non-participative


research. When the observation takes place in a natural setting where the subjects are not influenced in any way, it is called uncontrolled observation (Pickard, 2012). In this study, the researcher will utilize the structured observation technique.

Justification of the chosen research methodology

The research methodology above is chosen because it helps the reader to understand the noteworthy aspects of the research like why a method of sampling is chosen and the reason for deciding on a specific choice of sample size. The selection method chosen is simple random sampling as it eliminates the possibility of bias by giving chance to all sections of the population to take part in the survey. The descriptive research is chosen since the researcher does not want to influence or affect the research respondents in any way and leaves them in their own environment to interact with each other in a free and fair manner. Moreover, the research is exploratory in nature and seeks to address a problem through a case study.

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Quantitative Data Analysis

Quantitative data includes facts that are be calculable and recordable in terms of figures. It involves data that is discernible and can be handled through mathematical and statistical methods to yield useful information. For that reason, it is more structured and may be collected in myriad ways. In the research described above, quantitative data will include relevant variables that answered the research question. In order to answer the research question, it is necessary to pose a number of questions that will prove the hypotheses recommended. According to Bryman (2012), queries from quantitative research should have products that are measurable and can be converted to measurements. Therefore, the questions put forward should have unique identifiers, can be converted to numerical form, and are standardized in nature.



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