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

Monday, 3 August 2015

Austenland in translation

I was watching the guilty pleasure that is Austenland last night, dubbed into Italian. (I'd previously seen it in English). Austenland is a romcom about a group of misfits who sign up for an 'immersive Austen experience'. Much of the broad comedy plays on accent: Jennifer Coolidge perpetrating a series of appalling come-back-Dick-van-Dyke-all-is-forgiven outrages on received pronunciation; Georgia King channelling Miranda Richardson's Queenie; Bret McKenzie not trying particularly hard to disguise his New Zealand accent, presumably on the grounds that his employer's usual clients wouldn't be able to tell the difference anyway.

How can one badly fake an English accent in Italian? I wish my Italian was good enough to get a real sense of this from the dubbed version. But I could at least see how they manage the moment near the end of the film where Jane discovers that 'Lady Amelia Heartwright', played by Georgia King, is actually American too.

The English script goes more or less:
"Amelia Heartwright": Farewell! [sinking back into her seat in the carriage] God, that was the best time so far. Except for the eye gouging.
Jane: You're not British??
AH: Yeah, I know, right?! Well, that's what two years of private drama tutoring will get you.
The information that Heartwright is American is only conveyed here through accent. Of course the accent doesn't really come across (sorry, I couldn't find the clip itself online). The Italian script goes:
AH: Alla prossima! Dio, questa è stata la migliore di tutte le volte! Sì, a parte l'occhio, certo...
Jane: Ma tu stavi recitando??
AH: Sì! Sono bravina, vero? Be', due anni di lezioni di recitazione private sono serviti...
(Alla ricerca di Jane)
[AH: Goodbye! God, this was the best time of all! Yes, apart from the eye, of course...
Jane: You were acting??
AH: Yes! I'm pretty good, right? Well, two years of private acting lessons worked...]
The difference is that in English, Jane is astonished that Amelia has turned out not to be British. Since Amelia doesn't do a bad job of channelling Miranda Richardson, and since any British accent at all sounds great beside the efforts of Lady Elizabeth Charming (Jennifer Coolidge), this works OK.

In Italian, Jane is just astonished that Amelia was putting on an act - which is much less plausible. I couldn't find any more suitable footage on Youtube than the gag reel, but to get an idea of Lady Amelia Heartwright's acting style, see

Having said that, metalingual comments must be among the most difficult things to translate, and I don't easily see how else the dubber could have done it. How was it done in other languages? All comments from people who've seen the Italian, or any, dubbed version are very welcome...