Monday, 14 December 2015

Early Career Fellowships in medicine, medical humanities, society and ethics

These fellowships are potentially open to researchers in medical interpreting, translation & history of medicine, or related topics:

Elizabeth Blackwell Institute Early Career Fellowships 2016/17

The University of Bristol is seeking to support exceptionally talented and motivated researchers who seek to further their career by applying for prestigious, independent, externally-funded fellowships to be held at Bristol.  You must be highly competitive and eligible for externally funded ‘Early Career’ fellowships or similar.  Eligibility for these schemes typically runs from the final year of your PhD up to 6 years post PhD.

We offer a salaried position to enable applications to be made to, and secured from, external funding bodies and for your research vision to be developed along with mentoring by senior academic staff. Applicants should have a very strong publication record, and be seeking to work on a topic aligned to any one of the University of Bristol’s health-related research themes which include: Population health and epidemiology; Neurosciences and psychiatric disease; Cardiovascular science and disease; Biochemistry and cell biology; Infection and immunity; Bioengineering; Cancer; Regenerative medicine; Musculoskeletal diseases; Zoonotic disease. Applicants in the fields of Medical Humanities or Society and Ethics are also welcomed.

Full details and application form:

Further information: Further details can be obtained from Dr Nina Couzin (ebi-health at
Deadline:  Applications should be submitted to ebi-health at by 09:00 (GMT) Friday 12 February 2016.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Bristol seminar: Filmic Translation and Transmediation, 3 December

We are delighted to welcome Professor Karin Littau of the University of Essex to give a research seminar on Thursday 3 December. Details below. All welcome. Refreshments after.

Filmic Translation and Transmediation

Professor Karin Littau, University of Essex
Arts Complex, Woodland Road, BS8 1TE
Room G79, Thursday 3 December, 5pm-6.30pm

If film has productively transformed, even invigorated, literary practice, as recent research in film and literature has suggested, might this not also be the case with regard to literary translation? In what ways has film shaped the material and aesthetic practices of translation? What kinds of filmic techniques have been absorbed into poetry translations in book-form or for online e-translations? And, how are we to understand the allusions to film and film culture in translations based on originals that were composed before film was even invented? My aim in exploring these questions, is firstly to demonstrate that media shape minds or “mindsets” and secondly to show, through specific print and digital examples, how translation is affected by what Thomas Elsaesser has called the “cinema in our heads”.

Karin Littau is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Essex. She has published on book and film history, comparative media, translation, and reception studies. Her next book is a history of literature and film for Routledge, others include Theories of Reading: Books, Bodies and Bibliomania (2006) and most recently the co-edited volume Cinematicity in Media History (2013).

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Translating Rome, Open City

I went to a splendid showing of Roberto Rossellini's 1945 film Roma, città aperta on Friday night, courtesy of the Italian Department at the University of Bristol and the InsideArts festival. We saw a restored print with English subtitles credited to the festival Il cinema ritrovato, where the restoration was done.

The film is certainly not the version scorned by one denizen of Netflix for its "Operetta germans, heroic priests, magazine-cover kids, forced conversation, bad (frequently missing!) subtitles, video quality low (all the scratches, blotches, and dark areas are here, just like you're watching the old film)" (one does wonder if the subtitles and the print quality had been better, would the viewer have found the Germans operettish, the conversation forced, etc.)

The subtitles on this version were good and often funny, with smart and unobtrusive solutions for many very Italian turns of phrase. It made me wonder about the first English subtitled version of this film in the US, which opened, according to David Forgacs, on 25 February 1946 at the World Theater on 49th St., and ran there for nearly two years. It had subtitles by Pietro di Donato and Herman Weinberg. Herman G. Weinberg worked as a subtitler and film critic from the early 1930s to the early 1970s and pioneered subtitling in the United States; more on him in a future post, perhaps.

Are di Donato and Weinberg guilty of perpetrating the "bad and frequently missing" subtitles mentioned above? Bosley Crowther in the New York Times doesn't comment. I wonder what the local newspaper files of may be able to tell us.

The Winnipeg Tribune of Friday 18 April, 1947 closes a long review by naming and praising the subtitlers:

In a slightly later review on Tuesday 17 June, 1947, the Sandusky Register in Sandusky, Ohio, comments that
We do, however, get a hint in the Winnipeg Tribune review that these subtitles might have been the rather selective subtitles which were typical of the period. And lo, the Gazette and Daily, of York, Pennsylvania, on 11 February 1947 indeed had some reservations about the completeness of the subtitles: 

The subtitles must have really been quite bad to trigger this return to the 'transcending the limitations of language' shtick, so prevalent fifteen years previously. It looks likely that these subtitles may indeed be the ones referred to so bitterly by the disenchanted Netflixer above.

Interestingly, subtitles still seem to have been rather strange to a proportion of the film-going audience, or why does the Daily Times-News of Burlington, NC have to explain, on 12 July 1947, what subtitles are?:

But the award for the most comprehensive comment on the film's translation (or at least the most comprehensive that a evening's energetic keyword searching could provide) must go to a columnist on the Daily Tar Heel, student newspaper at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who has this to say on May Day 1947 (I give it in extenso, so that you get the full flavour):

Mr Allen expends much of his creative energies on describing the subtitles:

Setting aside the author's unendearing linguistic shtick, this review gives us a rather clearer picture of how selective Mr Weinberg's and signor di Donato's subtitles really were. It offers an intriguing research line to follow. How much was this viewer exaggerating the selectiveness of the subtitling? To what extent were other reviewers just grinning and bearing it - or, indeed, so riveted by the film's acting and storyline that they did not fully notice the subtitles? Only a close comparison against a copy of this version of the film can begin to tell us.

It becomes clear in the closing paragraphs of the review that Mr Allen's disappointment in Open City stemmed from the mismatch between the advertising and the product:

This seems to have been the kind of advertising that Allen was talking about: 

 From Samuel Wilson's excellent review at

Tino Balio's informative book The Foreign Film Renaissance on American Screens 1946-1973 has much to say about the way this film was marketed:
Realizing it would take time to cultivate an audience for foreign films, [the distributor, Joseph] Burstyn used venerable exploitation techniques to attract attention. [...] Although the New York Board of Censors passed the film "with but insignificant scissorings", according to Variety, Mayer-Burstyn decided to bypass the Production Code Administration (PCA) to avoid having to make further cuts. The same article continued: "Its got plenty to make [Hollywood censors] blanch if and when it is shown them. Principal sympathetic femme character speaks openly of her pregnancy, although she's not wed, and the traitoress who leads to the capture and death of the partisans betrays them for a combination of cocaine and the love of a lesbo German spy. That's just a sample of the angles for the PCA to mull, while the handling of the priest will no doubt make the Legion of Decency gulp hard, although the film has been okayed by the Vatican." Unlike the Vatican, the Legion of Decency found much to fault in the film and gave it a condemned rating. Lacking the Production Code seal and the C rating meant that Open City would not be booked by the major theater chains.
The Mayer-Burstyn partnership made the best of circumstances. First, it released Roma, città aperta, the original title of the film, as Open City. The original referred to Rome's protected status during the war as a historical city. Burstyn's title suggests something quite different - a wide-open city where anything goes. In line with this title change, Mayer-Burstyn promoted the film as "Sexier than Hollywood ever dared to be!" and ran ads with fake publicity stills, one showing "two young ladies deeply engrossed in a rapt embrace" and another of "a man being flogged", both of where were "designed to tap the sadist trade", according to Mayer. As Variety explained, two types of audiences existed for foreign films: the "fairly discriminating filmgoers", who were taken with the "raw, unvarnished approach to sex" in the films, and the "transients, the misfits...and the loose-jawed brethren" who normally got their thrills vicariously from exploitation films". At first Open City played in art houses and independent theaters. Mayer-Burstyn later toned down the torture scenes and removed an offending shot of a toddler on a potty to secure a coveted code seal and entrée to mainstream theaters. (pp.41-42)
There's much to mull over here, including the existence of multiple cuts of the film, and the questions that remain over which version of the film a given audience might have seen. I like very much Samuel Wilson's comment, in his review of Balio's book and the film, that the Burstyn-Mayer release is an important version (or, I guess, versions) in its own right, which deserved to be given greater prominence in the Criterion edition. In the same vein, I would argue that di Donato and Weinberg's subtitles, patchy as they were, are also a significant factor in the film's reception in the United States, and deserve to be represented, even in the form of a clip for purposes of comparison, on a future DVD. 

N.B. Post updated after publication to reflect the fact that di Donato and Weinberg's subtitles seem to be available in all their patchiness and elegance of typeface, on the TCM website

Post-post-scriptum: Updated once again on finding out from colleague and Italian film scholar Catherine O'Rawe that Pietro di Donato was in fact a somewhat well-known literary figure. There is an essay by Loredana Polezzi about his novel Christ in Concrete here.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

The return of the translating dissolve

In my book Translating Popular Film I talked about the device of the 'translating dissolve' which was so common in the 1920s and 1930s. Here's an example from the wonderful Frank Capra film The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933), with the wonderful Nils Asther in far-from-wonderful yellowface as the eponymous general:

The translating dissolve is also described by David Cairns on his excellent 'Shadowplay' blog, and at more length by R. John Williams in a very interesting and lavishly illustrated article from 2009, 'Global English Ideography and the Dissolve Translation in Hollywood Film'. Cairns uses the example of Daughter of the Dragon (Corrigan, 1931). In my book I argued that the 'translating dissolve' represented a kind of perceptual 'point of view' shot where the viewer gets to see from the point of view of a character who understands the source language:

Odd it may have been, but it was a standard way of making foreign-language written texts 'processable' for American viewers and thus contributed in an important way to linguistic realism in film.

I came across another interesting example this evening leafing through Daisuke Miyao's book Sessue Hayakawa: Silent Cinema and Transnational Stardom, where a translating dissolve from the film The Typhoon (Barker, 1914) proves to be more than it seems (the relevant bit starts at the bottom of page 70):

This underlines how long-lived this particular device was; from the 1910s to the 1930s and beyond. It also made me wonder how early this device was used. I'd be delighted to hear from any readers with earlier examples, or with examples later than the 1930s.

Friday, 6 November 2015

PhD funding for 2016-17 through South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership

It's that time of year again.

The Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership (SWW DTP) offers PhD scholarships for candidates from the UK or EU. For details of translation studies supervision available across the South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership, see

The University of Bristol is one of the eight member universities of the SWW DTP. Candidates wishing to apply for PhD study in the School of Modern Languages at the University of Bristol starting in 2016-17 are eligible to apply for DTP funding.

The School of Modern Languages at Bristol comprises the departments of French, German, Italian, Hispanic, Portuguese and Latin American Studies, and Russian and Czech, and a cross-departmental Translation Studies section. We also offer supervision for projects with Persian, Arabic and Georgian.
Applications can be made to the DTP from 30 November 2015.  The closing date for applications is 11 January 2016. Details of the application timetable are available at

If you are planning an application for doctoral research in Translation Studies at the University of Bristol, please contact Dr Carol O'Sullivan. Enquiries relating to projects on theatre and performance should be addressed to Dr Katja Krebs in the School of Arts. You can find more details of individual research specialisms in translation at Bristol at

The University of Bristol also expects to be in a position to offer a number of its own postgraduate research scholarships to outstanding applicants. Students who apply for a DTP scholarship based at Bristol, and who also wish to be considered for a University of Bristol scholarship, will need to make a separate application to the relevant PhD programme by 11 January 2016

For updated details of doctoral research funding opportunities at the University of Bristol, keep an eye on

Friday, 30 October 2015

Poems About Translation 24: The Translators, by George Szirtes

Recently arrived in my postbox, a very interesting-looking collection of essays on literary translation, including articles about the German audiobook of Achebe's Things Fall Apart; Duncan Large on philosopher-translators; Holocaust testimony in translation; on the Polish translation of Tutuola's Palm-Wine Drinkard; and many more.

I was very pleased to see a Poem About Translation (it's been a while), namely 'The Translators' by UEA's own George Szirtes, originally published in The Rialto in 2009. You can find the complete poem here on the Poetry Magazines site.

I'll leave Dr Szirtes to comment on the poem himself:

And while we're at it, here is a wonderful 2005 essay entitled 'Foreign Laughter' (from the Dublin Review, in honour of my quick trip to Dublin this weekend) by Szirtes on translating Hungarian literature.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Silent film viewing in Luxembourg, c.1920

I really enjoyed this post on Luke McKernan's excellent Picturegoing blog, which quotes an account by the American journalist Robert Joseph Casey (1890-1962) of going to the cinema in the town of Ettleburck in Luxembourg shortly after the First World War:
I suspected from the first that “On the Line of the Four,” however much it might promise as a war picture, was very likely our old friend and neighbor “The Sign of the Four,” and so it was.

The original nationality of the piece was a doubtful matter. There was hardly enough of it left to give one a consecutive idea of the plot, and the French captions were so worn that little was to be gained from them. It may have been an American film of that era when there were no stars. At any rate, no latter-day favorites appeared in it. It may have been English. Certain elements in the “locations” suggested England forcibly. But whatever its pedigree, its days of usefulness were nearly done.

The Anglo Saxons in the house, to whom the name Sherlock Holmes was a sufficient guaranty of story action and plot, could not get very far with the titles in French. Those who had mastered enough of the language to surmount this difficulty were certain to become hopelessly muddled in the aimless mixing of scenes that seemed to be the result of many years of “cut and patch.”
This issue of the difficulty of identifying a silent film's origin echoes the story of the 'O'Kalem collection', a DVD release of the surviving films shot by the Kalem film company (in its various incarnations) in Ireland between 1910 and 1915. The fact that two of the films, The Lad from Old Ireland (1910) and His Mother (1912), only survived in German and Dutch versions respectively, 'delayed their identification by scholars over the years', as we are told in the very informative booklet accompanying the DVD.

Silent film farmers: a postscript

I thoroughly enjoyed Wednesday evening at the Lansdown pub in Bristol showing a combined Georgian/Irish programme of films about subsistence farming (if you squint) at the very kind invitation of the wonderful Bristol Silents film club. The programme featured two of the 'O'Kalem' films shot in Ireland in the 1910s, and Mikhail Katatozov's Salt for Svanetia which I had seen last year at the seventyseven film club (Bristol is good at film clubs).

The Lad from Old Ireland can be seen here:

It has the distinction of being the first fiction film shot in Ireland, as well as the first American film shot abroad, and it was also a pioneer in location shooting (the Kalem company didn't have its own studio; in pioneering location shooting they were making a virtue of necessity).

A clip from Salt for Svanetia can be seen here

Its director was supposed to be making a piece of agitprop about the building of Soviet infrastructure but mostly forgets this (until the startling final few minutes of the film) in favour of watching the play of light and shade and texture.

A final snippet from this event: while I was watching the O'Kalems it was difficult not to be reminded of later films set in Ireland (like Song o' my Heart (Borzage, 1930), starring John McCormack), as well as of later emigrant narratives like Das Lockende Ziel (Reichmann, 1930). Links are made by some scholars between The Lad from Old Ireland and John Ford's 1952 classic The Quiet Man.

I was particularly struck by the shot in The Lad from Old Ireland where Terry, played by Sidney Olcott, is bidding farewell to his sweetheart Aileene, played by Gene Gauntier. The scene takes place against the backdrop of a cottage, a field, a drystone wall:

Compare this sequence from Song o' my Heart where Fergus, played by John Garrick, bids farewell to Eileen (coincidence?), played by Maureen O'Sullivan. The scene takes place against the backdrop of a cottage, a field, a drystone wall:

In fact they liked this so much they shot it twice! This is one of the films for which an International Sound version exists as well as the domestic release version - perhaps more on that in another post. 

Is this just a really well-worn shot setup? Comments welcome on any other emigrants-bidding-farewell-to-sweethearts-in-front-of-drystone-wall sequences out there...

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Translating silent film: 'Kid Speed' (1924)

OK, silent film translation time. I just came across two different language versions of Kid Speed (Semon, 1924), a comedy short featuring one Oliver N. Hardy. One version is in English; the other is in Italian, from an off-air recording from RAI television.

The English version can be found here:

The Italian version, entitled Ridolini e il suo bolide, is here


The original YT poster dates this broadcast to the 1970s:
La pellicola è una versione della Rai, probabilmente databile negli anni '70: ad un certo punto si può ascoltare una versione del brano "Il re del piffero", sigla della serie "Le simpatiche canaglie", ovvero i corti delle "Our Gangs" trasmessi dalla Rai nella seconda metà degli anni '70. Altra chicca è il cappello introduttivo del cortometraggio che viene presentato come comica americana presentata da Jean Gaborit e Jaques Durant [sic], due amanti del cinema famosi per le ricostruzioni e le riscoperte di pellicole storiche; loro è infatti la ricostruzione della versione originale del 1939 de "La regola del gioco" di Jean Renoir.
[The film is a RAI version, probably dating from the 70s; at a certain point you can hear a version of the song 'Il re del piffero', the theme song of the series 'Le simpatiche canaglie', which were the Our Gang shorts broadcast by RAI in the second half of the 1970s. Another nugget is the intro to the short which is presented as American funnies presented by Jean Gaborit and Jaques Durant [sic], two film lovers famous for reconstructing and rediscovering old films: it was they who reconstructed the original version of Jean Renoir's Rules of the Game from 1939.]

The English version runs slightly over eighteen minutes; the Italian clip less than fourteen, but it's typical of these broadcast versions to be quite cut about. What's interesting is to look at which bits have been maintained and which have been lost. The English-language version has a lot of verbal as well as visual humour. The scene is set in rhyme:

There are some quite marked shifts in register between the titles:

(I can't work out why the two different typefaces and layouts.)
Some of the titles introduce the characters and the actors who play them:

(The writer seems temporarily to have run out of rhymes here.)


(I am embarrassed to say that the penny took a few minutes to drop with 'Phil O'Delfya'.)

(btw any readers know what the 'million gate' is?)

The Italian credits don't introduce the characters like this, and the full cast list in the opening credits is missing too. Instead they give us an opening credit for Semon, and one for Hardy and a 'Patty Alexander':

This is a bit mystifying, since the only actress in the film is Dorothy Dwan, and on checking, she doesn't seem to have masqueraded at any point as Patty Alexander, though she did start out in life as Dorothy Illgenfritz. There is a Frank Alexander, but...? Mystery unresolved. (For more on mysteriously differing character names in Italian film versions, see old post 'Who is Fred?').

The Italian clip blithely ignores all the scene-setting and verbal dexterity of the original. It has many fewer titles - is, in fact, positively laconic:

[Ridolini, with his help, is fine-tuning the meteor/vehicle he will drive in the Grand Prix.] (I'm not sure who 'suo' refers to here.)

[The philanthropist who organised the race pays a visit with his daughter to the main contestants.]

[The day of the race.] Note that this title corresponds to the following title in English:

The Speed Kid (Semon) and Dan McGraw (Hardy) are rivals for the affections of Avery DuPoys' daughter Lou, played by Dorothy Dwan. Her father promises that whoever wins the race can date her:

Dan McGraw gets very excited about this, and tries to get his goons to sabotage his rival:

But in Italian, he only seems to be interested in the race:

[Get rid of that Ridolini! The Grand Prix will be mine!]

The clips raise lots of questions. Are these two versions in themselves complete, or have they lost other bits along the way? Are these Italian titles the earliest available titles, or were there at any point earlier, perhaps more fully translated titles? Can we in any sensible way consider these two films as original and translation?

It's clear that even if silent film *can* lay claim to being easy to translate because the titles in the target language can just be refilmed and substituted, it doesn't mean that silent film *is* translated in so straightforward a manner. The whole texture of the film has changed. Taking out the wordy English titles changes the nature of the comedy, rebalancing the film in favour of the slapstick. Paratextually, it's reframed as a nostalgic pleasure, rather than for a contemporary audience. And the Italian titles are poorer not just semantically, but aesthetically; the two typefaces used in the original (for reasons which aren't clear to me, since they don't seem to correspond to any distinction between, say, narrative and dialogue titles) are reduced to one very functional one. And that's of course without even considering all the other ways in which the film could have been recut, which is beyond the scope of this little post.

The whole question of what actually constitutes 'part of the film' for the purposes of translation is at issue. But more on the (para)textual status of intertitles in a future post.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Translator training workshop, Sarajevo, 17 November 2015

Coming up, for readers within reach of Sarajevo, the next event from the IATIS (International Association for Translation and Intercultural Studies) Training Committee, with Professor Dorothy Kenny of Dublin City University:

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Workshop: 'Computer-Based Literary Analysis', Bristol, 27 November 2015

This event is being organised by one of our graduate students, and there are still a few places left at time of writing. The event is free but registration is required.

Computer-based Literary Analysis

Professor Jan Christoph Meister,  University of Hamburg
Friday 27 November, 9.30 to 4.30
Biomedical Teaching Lab E2.1 PC Room, University of Bristol

This workshop is open to postgraduate students and staff working in the humanities, in particular in literary and language studies, including translation. The workshop is free.
It requires no previous experience of corpus linguistics software, and will be led by Professor Jan Christoph Meister (Hamburg), who heads the team which has developed the free, web-based software which will be used, known as CATMA (Computer Aided Textual Markup and Analysis).

CATMA is a practical and intuitive tool for literary scholars, students and other parties with an interest in text analysis and literary research. In contrast to most corpus linguistics software, the program combines standard features such as wordlists and collocation searches with the ability to mark up texts in a user-defined way, prior to analysing them quantitatively. It is also designed to facilitate collaborative work on literary texts and allows for the easy sharing of data and metadata. It can be used with individual texts or corpora of multiple texts, in a wide variety of languages.

The philosophy underlying its development is that computers can now be used to complement the traditional close reading of literary texts with quantitative analysis of various narrative, stylistic and linguistic features to gain a deeper understanding of texts and to develop and test various interpretations of them. Examples of the kinds of use to which CATMA can be put include:

          analysing various aspects of narrative form and structure such as events and actions
          analysing aspects of literary style of a text such as sentence length and lexical richness
          analysing language use
          searching texts for words or phrases and their collocates
          comparing translations with source texts

The workshop will provide a hands-on introduction to the software and its capabilities, and there will opportunities for you to discuss how you might use it in your own research.

CATMA can be found at: and also at

Tea, coffee and a light buffet lunch will be provided. Participants are responsible for their own travel costs.

Booking a place:

The workshop will be limited to 20 people. If you wish to book a place, or have any questions, please contact roy.youdale[at]

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Translation workshops at U. of East Anglia, Norwich, autumn 2015

I've just seen the lineup of literary translation workshops taking place this autumn as part of the MA programmes in translation at UEA, and they look great. Lovely to see that first up is the wonderful Rosalind Harvey, Bristol denizen and literary translation cheerleader extraordinaire - an excellent speaker on this topic, and warmly recommended.

The blurb says:

Translation workshops take place as follows unless otherwise noted: on Wednesday's in C. Hall 0.13 and Thursdays in J.S.C. 1.02 between 5 and 7 pm. Workshops are organised jointly by the School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing and the School of Politics, Philosophy and Language. These workshops are free and open to the public.  

For more information please contact Cecilia Rossi (c.rossi at or Roger Baines (R.W.Baines at  

(Protip: My memory of UEA campus is that you need plenty of time to work out where you are going.)

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Translating silent film: British Silent Film Festival, Leicester, September 2015

I've been blown away by the experience of attending the British Silent Film Festival. It's the first time I've been at the Festival, though it has a long and distinguished history (it's in its eighteenth year). This year's Festival is at the wonderful Phoenix cinema and cultural centre in Leicester (a most sensible place, where you can even buy a flat in the same building for easier cinemagoing). It was lovely to meet up again with some well-known faces from the Splendid Innovations conference too.

Other people more knowledgeable than I am are blogging the Festival (see e.g. Silent London) and so I will concentrate on things translationy (though I would love to rave about the wonderful sailing footage on Windjammer, or the brilliant slapstick of Buston Keaton in Steamboat Bill, or, or....).

A number of films were screened at the Festival in their original languages with a spoken translation. This worked really well and it was interesting how the different film explainers gave the films quite a different tone. Neil Brand did great accents for the Dutch titles on the only available print of The Man from Home (Fitzmaurice, 1922), which helped give an extra touch of entertainment to an otherwise ho-hum film. Bryony Dixon's narration added ironical notes to the very good Swedish film Den Starkaste [The Strongest] (Sjöberg & Lindblom, 1929), a story of romantic rivalry between two ship's marksmen hunting for seal and bear in the Arctic.

A gentleman whose name I unfortunately didn't find out heroically improvised a spoken narration to Tourjansky's Michel Strogoff (1926) - a task made extremely difficult both by the film's titles and inserts (often very wordy, rather cramped, lots of handwriting, varying formatting, and not long enough on screen) and by the sheer length of the film (nearly three hours). It gave a whole new tone to the film and made me very aware of every title and text insert - and nearly distracted from the amazingly beaux yeux of Ivan Mosjoukine:

Image borrowed from this excellent review of Michel Strogoff at Moviessilently, hoping the owner will not mind.

For more on the skill and resourcefulness needed for festival film interpreting, see this article on film festival interpreting in the USSR by Elena Razlogova (subscription only). Props also to John Sweeney for his thrilling accompaniment to the film (though in fairness, all the musicians I heard were marvellous).

Two films were screened for which Alfred Hitchcock designed the titles, way back in the day when he worked for Famous Players-Lasky British. One was The Man from Home; only one print survives, with Dutch titles, mentioned above. The other was Three Live Ghosts (also Fitzmaurice, 1922) which was thought lost, as Charles Barr fascinatingly recounted, until a truncated print was found in Russia. The image on the front of the Festival brochure above is from this film. This was for me the real treasure of the Festival because of the way it had been cut, recut, added to and adapted.

Translation Studies scholars have tended to follow pioneer scholars such as Jan Ivarsson on the relative simplicity of translating silent film: 'the original titles were removed, translated, filmed, and re-inserted'. I imagine that in most cases, this was quite true. But someone working from a more Descriptive-Translation-Studies point of view might ask: OK, it was potentially easy to translate intertitles, but were silent films, in practice, so straightforwardly translated? There's plenty of evidence to suggest that intertitles were subject to the same kinds of 'deforming tendencies' (Berman's phrase) as any other translation. There's also plenty of evidence that silent films were routinely recut as well as retitled (see my previous post on Adrian Brunel's work editing silent films for import to the UK, or those juxtaposed versions of the same Chaplin film in English and Russian that I would look up on Youtube if I wasn't currently on a train...). Intertitles also pose other problems with layout, typeface, production values, etc., and technical/material problems which affect their preservation - see Enno Patalas, for instance, on Nosferatu (paywalled).

I would argue that we shouldn't see this editing work as external to the translation of the film; editing, retitling, adjusting for the target market are surely all part of the same process. Admittedly, Three Live Ghosts seems like a spectacular case, including, as Charles Barr described to us yesterday, the changing of characters' names, backstories and motivations, as well as the likely addition of footage not belonging to the original film. I look forward some day to reading a full account of this particularly intriguing silent film translation.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

'Researching Collaborative Translation: An International Symposium', HKBU, 7-8 April 2016

An upcoming event which may be of interest to readers: 'Researching Collaborative Translation: An International Symposium' at Hong Kong Baptist University, 7-8 April 2016. Registration opens on 1 October 2015. The event is organised in collaboration with ARTIS (Advancing Research in Translation and Interpreting Studies).

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Translationstudiesforfree: online modules in translation and interpreting studies

ARTIS (Advancing Research in Translation and Interpreting Studies) developed out of the TRSS (Translation Research Summer School), based in the UK and latterly also in Hong Kong, co-organised by Edinburgh, Manchester, UCL and Hong Kong Baptist University.

The TRSS produced an online course in translation and interpreting studies which is now available on the ARTIS website. There are two modules: one on Theories of Translation and Interpreting and one on Research Methods in Translation and Intercultural Studies.

The module Theories of Translation and Interpreting has four units: an overview by Professor Theo Hermans; a unit on descriptive approaches by Siobhan Brownlie; a unit on interventionist approaches to translation by Sebnem Susam-Saraeva; and a unit by Sameh Hanna on translation as social practice.

The module Research Methods in Translation and Intercultural Studies has three units: a unit on translating point of view, by Charlotte Bosseaux; a unit on translation as interpretation by Theo Hermans; and a unit on translation as renarration by Catherine Mansfield.

The course has no formal teaching, no charge, no sign-up dates. The materials are presented as is, for self-study.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Conference: Linguistic and cultural representation in audiovisual translation


This conference looks like a line-up of the great and the good in audiovisual translation... 
(Ignore the image, just one from my files that I thought suited the topic...)

Linguistic and cultural representation in audiovisual translation
International Conference
Sapienza Università di Roma & Università degli Studi di Roma Tre
Rome, 11-13 February 2016

Given the enormous and ever-increasing impact of audiovisual products on the general public, the representations that audiovisual texts convey of other languages and cultures cannot be underestimated. Films have been chief players in the construction of linguistic and cultural identities (Kozloff 2000, Bleichenbacher 2008), which is always the result of an act of selection of traits and features, both visual and verbal. Their critical role in reinforcing negative stereotypes has not been overlooked by scholars (Lippi-Green 1997), and so has the role of technical and ideological manipulation in shaping audiovisual texts and their translation (Díaz-Cintas 2012), while the creative, positive role of films in constructing images of other languages and cultures has been comparatively neglected by research, as has the similar role played by audiovisual products other than cinematographic films.
The translation process is a further step in the direction of shaping representation. As Venuti (1998) points out, “[t]ranslation wields enormous power in constructing representations of foreign cultures” and translated audiovisual texts in particular have the power “to produce insights into the cultures and languages represented” (Guillot 2012), to add further layers of meanings and to create new webs of associations only alluded to, if not altogether missing, in the original texts. Studies conducted on dubbing and subtitling have shown the mimetic capacity of some linguistic features to convey pragmatic meaning and sociolinguistic variation in both source and target languages (Pavesi 2009). Particular emphasis has been placed on audiovisual translation as a site of representational practice (Pérez-González 2014), on the representations that translations convey, on their serving as “a locus for (re)-negotiations of individual and group identities”, “as a vehicle promoting crosscultural and cross-linguistic sensitivity”, and “as agents of hybridisation of communicative practices” (Guillot 2012). The linguistic resources employed by translators in the representation of language varieties and communicative practices have also been an area of increased scholarly interest (Brumme and Espunya 2012).
This conference aims to explore the expressive and representational potential of the interplay of words, images, sounds and silences on the screen focussing on the negotiation of identity in audiovisual texts, and, more generally, on audiovisual translation as a mode of intercultural exchange. Linguistic and cultural representation will be ideally investigated from various viewpoints: that of the power of script-writers and translators to create, reinforce or undermine assumptions about the foreign language and culture represented; that of the audiences who negotiate the representations and meanings conveyed by audiovisual texts; that of stylistic and generic conventions, which contribute to shaping cultural and linguistic representation via established features and topoi in both source and target texts; and that of participatory translation practices, which are playing an important role in challenging and reshaping established representational schemas and conventions.
We encourage proposals for presentations (20 minutes + questions) on all areas of linguistic and cultural analysis of audiovisual texts, as well as on audiovisual translation. Intersections with related areas of research, such as film and television studies, which are advocated (Chaume 2004) but still under-researched, are especially welcome. Topics for presentations may include, but are not restricted to, the following:

- Linguistic and cultural representation in audiovisual texts;
- Representational practices in AVT (e.g. the representation of orality in both fictional and non-fictional audiovisual genres, the representation of identity and difference);
- Cross-cultural and cross-linguistic perspectives (e.g. communicative practices and their representation);
- Representation and audience perception;
- Translators’ representations of viewers (e.g. translators’ assumptions about their audience);
- Representation and accessibility;
- Representational practices in non-professional translation;
- The representational contribution of film, television and other audiovisual media to contemporary culture;
- The social impact of tele-cinematic representation;
- Linguistic and cultural representation in specific film and television genres (science fiction, war films, romantic comedies and so on);
- Culture-specific references in original and translated audiovisual products.

Submission Procedure:

Abstract deadline: 1st September 2015. Abstracts should be max 300 words (excluding references) and include title of the contribution, name of the author and affiliation. A brief bio-sketch of no more than 100 words should be also included.
Notification of acceptance: 10th October 2015.
Language: English.
Proposals should be sent to:

Invited speakers:
Frederic Chaume (Universitat Jaume I, Castelló, Spain)
Jorge Díaz-Cintas (University College London, UK)
Marie-Noëlle Guillot (University of East Anglia, UK)
Maria Pavesi (University of Pavia, Italy)
Luis Pérez-González (University of Manchester, UK)

Scientific Committee:
Dr Rocío Baños-Piñeri (University College London, UK)
Prof. Rosa Maria Bollettieri Bosinelli (University of Bologna)
Prof. Silvia Bruti (University of Pisa)
Dr Elena Di Giovanni (University of Macerata)
Prof. Maria Freddi (University of Pavia)
Prof. Donatella Montini (Sapienza University of Rome)
Prof. Stefania Nuccorini (Roma Tre University)
Dr Irene Ranzato (Sapienza University of Rome)
Dr Annalisa Sandrelli (UNINT, Rome)
Prof. Mary Wardle (Sapienza University of Rome)
Prof. Monika Wozniak (Sapienza University of Rome)
Dr Serenella Zanotti (Roma Tre University)

Irene Ranzato (Sapienza University of Rome)
Monika Wozniak (Sapienza University of Rome)
Serenella Zanotti (Roma Tre University)

For queries regarding the conference please contact:
Irene Ranzato:
Monika Wozniak:
Serenella Zanotti:

A conference website with all information regarding the conference, the location and the registration procedure is under construction at