What is audiovisual translation?
Audiovisual translation is a type of translation that includes both sound and image to fully express the content from the source culture. It covers all translations, including films, TV programmes, series or games.
Have you ever watched a film or series and thought about how a scene was translated into your language For many countries in Europe, such as Germany, Italy, France or Spain, watching dubbed or subtitled films is quite usual.
Audiovisual translation refers to the transfer of verbal/audiovisual content from one language to another. Because these materials are intended to be seen and heard simultaneously, their translation differs from the regular written translation.
Written texts are primarily intended to be read, while audiovisual material are to be seen and heard. Audiovisual products are often, but not always, created with the support of technological devices, and their translations are also created and accessed through one or more electronic devices. The two main translation types for movies are dubbing and subtitling.
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The specific approach to audiovisual translation is to know and apply cultural features appear in the texts and recordings. They are translated depending on the target culture’s interpretation, maintaining their original tone, but adapting several characteristics. This means that an audiovisual translator, in addition to knowledge of a given language (grammar, vocabulary), must have a thorough knowledge of the colloquial language and slang of a given language.
There are currently three popular audiovisual translation techniques, which we explain below.
Dubbing is the replacement of the voices and sound effects of an audiovisual product with other voices and sounds that are recorded in a language that is different from the original. An audiovisual translator specialising in dubbing, needs to undergo a detailed training in this field, taking into account aspects such as lip-synchronisation, and be prepared to work in a multidisciplinary team of translators, editors, dubbers, etc. are also peculiarities among the different categories of dubbing. For example, in contrast to dubbing, taking into consideration lip-synchronisation for voice-over is not necessary.
Dubbing aims to create an illusion because the dialogue replaces the words spoken by the actors in the original film, series or cartoon. The dubbing translator must maintain the spirit, register and tone of the original version. If it needs to respect the synchronisation, it must also respect the acting and the nature of the language spoken by the actors.
The translation appears as text, usually at the bottom of the screen. Therefore, the audience may listen to the voice of the original characters while reading the translated subtitles to understand the message. In order to obtain a high quality results, it is necessary to have a thorough knowledge of source and target culture, so that the translation perfectly reflects the expressions and phrases of the original language. It is also important to bear in mind that the translator needs to adjust the length of the sentences, so that the spectators will have enough time to read them.
In this case, the actors' dialogues are read by a voice-over speaker. Unlike dubbing, neither lip-sync nor acting is taken into account here. This type of audiovisual translation is very common in documentaries and reality shows.
The world of Audiovisual Translation (AVT) is set to grow in the near future and translators must be well equipped and familiar with the growing demands for AVT. These challenges include not only technical knowledge, but also cultural awareness and in-depth knowledge in different subject areas to make the audiovisual translation as accurate as possible.
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Blog writer and Community Manager interested in multiculturality and linguistic diversity. From her native Venuzuela, she has travelled and lived for many years in France, Germany, Cameroon and Spain, passing on her passion for writing and her intercultural experiences.