New Points of View on Audiovisual Translation and Media Accessibility

by Anna Jankowska (Volume editor) Agnieszka Szarkowska (Volume editor)
©2016 Edited Collection IX, 309 Pages


This collection of articles offers a comprehensive overview of some of the most current research approaches found in the field of audiovisual translation (AVT) and media accessibility across Europe. The authors, well-known experts in the field of AVT, reflect on new challenges and look into potential avenues for investigation in professional practices like subtitling, surtitling, dubbing and voiceover as well as audio description (AD), subtitling for the deaf and the hard-of-hearing (SDH) and audio subtitling.
The book is divided into four sections. The first part discusses some of the cultural challenges encountered by professionals when dubbing and subtitling audiovisual productions and when surtitling live events. The second part focuses on AVT training, particularly on the teaching and learning of voiceover and subtitling. The third section is dedicated to AD and provides a detailed overview of some of the latest developments taking place in this area. The last section examines some of the most prevalent issues in SDH.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • List of Figures and Tables
  • New Points of View on Audiovisual Translation and Media Accessibility
  • Part 1 Dubbing, Subtitling and Surtitling
  • On Subtitling in Norway
  • Audiovisual Translation as Power Play
  • When Speech Becomes a Hallmark: The Translation of Almodóvar’s Films into Polish
  • Software Tools for the Analysis of Technical Parameters of Subtitles
  • Polish Dubbing Today as an Example of Excessive Domestication
  • ‘You Got out of Line, You Got Whacked’: Slang in Hollywood Mafia Movies and Italian Dubbing
  • Opera Surtitling in Poland: Theory and Practice
  • Part 2 AVT Training
  • Teaching Voiceover in a Voiceover Land
  • Towards Translation Proficiency: Transcription and Subtitling
  • Part 3 Audio Description
  • The Language of Audio Description in Dutch: Results of a Corpus Study
  • Audio Subtitling Multilingual Films in Poland: Early Developments, Current Practices and Future Challenges
  • Audio Describing Silence: Lost for Words
  • Audio Describing Different Types of Perspective: The Quest for Meaning
  • Part 4 Subtitling for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing
  • It’s Crime Time: About the Use of Colour in SDH
  • Subtitling Film Adaptations of Books for Deaf Students
  • Notes on Contributors
  • Index
  • Series Index

← x | xi →

Figures and Tables


Figure 14.1:Channels, codes, parameters within a feature film shot
Figure 14.2:Substitutions of channels, codes, parameters within a feature film shot with SDH in teletext


Table 3.1Results overview
Table 10.1The sample of Dutch AD scripts (expressed in the number of words)
Table 10.2Relative frequency scores of the open-class words in the Dutch AD corpus
Table 10.3Relative frequency scores of verb forms in the Dutch AD corpus
Table 10.4Relative frequency scores of the closed-class words in the AD corpus
Table 10.5The 100 most frequent words in the AD-corpus
Table 15.1Types of subtitles used in foreign language learning

← xi | xii →

← xii | 1 →


New Points of View on Audiovisual Translation and Media Accessibility

This edited collection brings together various papers on audiovisual translation (AVT) and media accessibility. The contributions contained here offer a detailed and varied overview of a number of AVT modes which are now in use across Europe. The authors discuss both the traditional AVT modes like dubbing, subtitling and voiceover (VO) as well as fairly new ones, such as audio description, audio subtitling or opera accessibility. The wide range of countries and backgrounds represented by the authors reflects a wealth of different audiovisual practices taking place in recent years across the continent and demonstrates the challenges they pose both to the AVT market and to AVT research.

A great diversity of the volume is also discernible in the research tools and various methodological frameworks employed by the authors in their studies. From current state-of-affairs articles, through descriptive and corpus-based studies and action research, to translator training and development of new software tools, this book shows how up-to-date research can inform audiovisual practices and how newly emerging practices can help shape new research avenues in AVT.

The volume is divided into four parts: (1) dubbing, subtitling and surtitling; (2) AVT training; (3) audio description (AD); and (4) subtitling for the deaf and hard-of-hearing (SDH). Although the papers are presented by researchers of diverse origins and backgrounds, we must admit that this book has a slightly Polish slant. However, instead of focusing only on the areas that are traditionally discussed in relation to Poland, such as VO, the authors in this volume offer a fresh perspective on various AVT practices in Poland, demonstrating that the country is not solely a VO stronghold. The readers may find it interesting to know that Poland ← 1 | 2 → has a long-standing dubbing tradition, that Polish subtitling is thriving, and that it is also home to various access services, such as SDH, AD, audio subtitling, etc.

Part 1 of the book focuses on issues and countries which are not often represented in AVT research. In Chapter 1, Witosław Awedyk discusses the specificity of the work as a Norwegian subtitler in view of the unique language situation in Norway. In addition to the challenges an audiovisual translator needs to face, the author also presents a general description of the Norwegian language policy. In Chapter 2, Halyna Stashkiv examines the factors that determine the choice of AVT mode in Ukraine, as well as the political, social and historical agenda behind it. She examines the context of Ukraine’s totalitarian past on the one hand, and its being part of the modern globalized world with English as the lingua franca on the other. She also discusses an interesting paradox of Ukrainian AVT, i.e. the foreignizing effect of dubbing and VO and the domesticating effect of subtitles. In Chapter 3, Leticia Santamaría Ciordia deals with the question of what might be called ‘auteur translation’ by investigating the question of whether the presence of an identifiable style in the work of Almodóvar influences the priorities of the translation and favours a target text closer to the original, showing more tolerance with expletives and obscenities, while helping to maintain the spirit of the original and retaining the sensation of authenticity. In Chapter 4, Juan David González-Iglesias González introduces a new software tool for the technical analysis of subtitle files with regard to the subtitle reading speed. The author also presents results of a study showing that there has been a clear evolution in the past few years in the two main parameters: reading speed and gap between consecutive subtitles. In Chapter 5, Anna Urban presents an analysis of sixteen animated films for children and their Polish dubbed versions, giving an extensive account of ‘excessive domestication’ practices in Polish dubbed films. She concludes that they are a result of translators’ intention to make the films more appealing and entertaining to adults. In Chapter 6, Ilaria Parini explores the issue of slang in Hollywood mafia movies and its Italian dubbing. She argues that the characters starring mafia movies in Hollywood productions usually speak a very distinguishable language variety whose most characterizing features is slang. Corpus analysis reveals that in some ← 2 | 3 → cases the translation manages to transpose both the diatopic and the diastratic connotations of the source texts, while in other cases many of the slang expressions have been generalized or standardized, which implies a substantial loss in characterization. In Chapter 7, Anna Rędzioch-Korkuz examines the surtitling strategies employed by Polish opera houses through questionnaires distributed among particular opera companies and interviews with professional surtitlers. She discovers that surtitles in Poland do not comply with the rudiments of AVT as they follow very closely the literary or singable translation of the libretto. The author claims that in the context of the whole performance surtitles should be seen as a helpful device facilitating the operatic communication rather than as an end in itself.

Part 2 consists of two chapters and is dedicated to translator training, particularly in the context of voiceover and subtitling. In Chapter 8, Agnieszka Chmiel seems to be taking us into a fairytale as she examines the issue of audiovisual translation’s ‘ugly duckling’ (Orero 2006) or ‘Cinderella’ (Woźniak 2012), namely VO. She discusses issues such as definitions of VO and synchrony requirements applicable to Western non-fiction VO and Polish fiction VO as well as contents of a theoretical and practical VO course organised as part of the Postgraduate Programme in Audiovisual Translation offered by the Faculty of English at Adam Mickiewicz University to fill the gap in VO training in Poland. In Chapter 9 Laura Incalcaterra McLoughlin argues that the use of audiovisual texts and subtitling in particular can impact positively on trainee translators’ progression towards a wider translation proficiency by helping them to develop transfer competence, increase flexibility and enhance analytical and problem solving skills.

Part 3 is dedicated to audio description (AD). In Chapter 10, Nina Reviers, Aline Remael and Walter Daelemans present results of a study which helps to answer the question of how visual clues are expressed in words. Their corpus analysis of seventeen Dutch AD scripts and a comparison with general language corpus confirms that there is indeed a ‘language of AD’ that is characterised by very specific features. In Chapter 11, Agnieszka Szarkowska and Anna Jankowska investigate the nature of audio subtitling (AST) and its currents status in Poland. Based on three multilingual Polish productions, they discuss the (dis)similarities between ← 3 | 4 → audio subtitling, VO and open interlingual subtitling, taking into account features such as forms of address, politeness, offensive language, on-screen text, omissions and name-insertion strategies. In Chapter 12, Pilar Orero, Anna Maszerowska and David Casacuberta present an interesting and multidisciplinary discussion of three scholars trained in different fields within the humanities (philology, linguistics, and philosophy) on the role of silence in films and its AD. They claim that silence in a film should not be automatically marked as the place where to insert AD and instead of providing prescriptive guidelines, and they show how to interpret and understand silence in AD. In Chapter 13, Irena Michalewicz meticulously dissects the question of how diverse perspectives can be rendered in AD. Among different types of perspectives are spatial relations, subjective perception of a character and various levels of meaning. The author concludes her analysis by claiming that audio describers could, and probably should, apply a wide variety of techniques to render the diversity of filmic means of expression and that the multi-leveled perception of characters and the relations between them are particularly significant pieces of information to be conveyed in AD.

Part 4 is about subtitling for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. First, in Chapter 14, Nathalie Mälzer-Semlinger explores the consequences of colour-coding strategies in the SDH in Germany and the influence they may have on viewers with hearing impairment, particularly in feature films where suspense is at stake. In Chapter 15, Renata Mliczak addresses the issue of potential benefits of using simplified subtitles for deaf students, which in her opinion can be an important step in their journey towards an easier and more meaningful access to audiovisual programmes in their future lives. She claims that subtitling for educational purposes differs considerably from the professional general provision of SDH since the vocabulary and syntactic structures in standard SDH are too advanced for students who are still learning the Polish oral language.

In conclusion, we hope that the articles offered by this volume will prove interesting and useful to AVT researchers, students and practitioners alike. We would genuinely like to thank the authors for their patience, enthusiasm and professionalism. ← 4 | 5 →


Orero, P. (2006). ‘Synchronization in Voice-Over’. In J. M. Bravo (ed.), A New Spectrum of Translation Studies. Valladolid: Universidad de Valladolid, 255–64.

Woźniak, M. (2012). ‘Voice-Over or Voice-in-Between? Some Considerations about Voice-Over Translation of Feature Films on Polish Television’, in A. Remael, P. Orero and M. Carroll (eds), Audiovisual Translation and Media Accessibility at the Crossroads. Media for All 3. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 209–28. ← 5 | 6 →

← 6 | 7 →


Dubbing, Subtitling and Surtitling

← 7 | 8 →

← 8 | 9 →


On Subtitling in Norway


IX, 309
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2015 (November)
Dubbing subtitling surtitling
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2015. IX, 309 pp., 2 b/w ill.

Biographical notes

Anna Jankowska (Volume editor) Agnieszka Szarkowska (Volume editor)

Anna Jankowska is Assistant Lecturer in the Chair for Translation Studies and Intercultural Communication at the Jagiellonian University, Krakow. Her recent research projects include studies on the viability of translating audio description scripts from foreign languages into Polish, AD of foreign films, multiculturalism in AD, and the history of audiovisual translation. Agnieszka Szarkowska is Assistant Professor in the Institute of Applied Linguistics at the University of Warsaw. She is the founder and head of the Audiovisual Translation Lab, a research group working on media accessibility. Her main research interest lies in audiovisual translation, especially subtitling for the deaf and the hard-of-hearing and audio description.


Title: New Points of View on Audiovisual Translation and Media Accessibility
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