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Opera Surtitling as a Special Case of Audiovisual Translation

Towards a Semiotic and Translation Based Framework for Opera Surtitling

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Anna Rędzioch-Korkuz

Despite the growing interest in various translation activities, there is still a potentially vast area of research. The statement may be true for opera surtitling, which was introduced in the nineteen eighties and has been used in opera companies worldwide ever since. This book aims to offer a theoretical framework for opera surtitling, based on several factors, including the semiotics of opera, relevance theory, or fundamental rules of audiovisual translation. The author provides a more illuminating insight by means of practical research into surtitling in Poland, which proves that surtitling is not as simple a task as it may seem, demanding a multimodal and multifaceted analysis of an audiovisual complex and requiring a constant struggle to guarantee optimal relevance of the surtitled performance.

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Introduction

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Recently the theory of translation has experienced a number of considerable changes. On the one hand, those changes came from translation scholars who had succeeded in shifting the interest from the notion of equivalence to more process- or target audience-related aspects, such as the goal of translation or the idea of acceptability and adequacy, to name just a few. On the other hand, the changes seem to have been inevitably demanded by the omnipresent development of communication technology: the Internet, computer games, DVDs, video­conferencing or smartphone applications have called for a rapid flow of easily accessible information. In practice, it soon turned out that the translator had to face the challenge of serving not only as a language mediator but also as a culture mediator making conscious decisions on the textual make-up of the target text, often bending the corset of translation equivalence.

A good illustration may be the scope of audiovisual translation (AVT), which has been currently gaining momentum. AVT has brought the tripartite division of translation put forward by Jakobson into academic spotlight, making room within translation studies for activities which would otherwise defy the traditional and fairly common understanding of translation as a process of rendering a source language text by means of an equivalent text in the target language. That includes subtitling or dubbing, which face the translator with distinctive constraints, e.g. temporal limitations or synchronization issues, but also subtitling for the D/deaf and hard-of-hearing or audio description, which embrace the...

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