Chaume, Frederic. (2003). Doblatge i subtitulació per a la TV.
Biblioteca de Traducció i Interpretació. 8. Vic: Eumo Editorial. 15€.
This study provides a detailed description of what constitutes an audiovisual text and suggests a model to analyse its translation. Written in Catalan, the book covers a gap found in Translation Studies, that is, a clear distinction of audiovisual translation from other types of translation. With a solid academic and professional background, mostly translating for television, the author includes examples taken from Catalan and Spanish to illustrate the particular nature of the audiovisual text.
The book has ten chapters divided in two distinctive parts. The first part comprises the more theoretical and historical aspects of audiovisual translation, whereas the second one concentrates on the practical side of translation.
Chapter one describes the different varieties of audiovisual translation, focusing on its two most common types in the Catalan and Spanish context, dubbing and subtitling. Chapter two relates a historical account of those two varieties from the birth of cinema to the present, and starts a trend often repeated throughout the volume. It seems there is an uneven balance between the space given to dubbing and subtitling. The latter receives less attention, because the author suggests subtitling is a process less complex than dubbing (137). There are occasions when just a few lines are devoted to subtitling. This is particularly apparent in chapters five and six.
Previous studies on audiovisual translation are traced in chapter three. Here the author defends an approach that takes into account the dual channel—visual and aural—that characterises these texts[i]. The author posits that it is through both channels that communication can be achieved, and suggests that all analytical models should consider them. Chapter four lists available models for the study of the communicative process, and provides a specific model for audiovisual texts.
Taking into account the importance of the receiver in the communicative process, chapter five addresses the audience's reception of the translations, and examines what renders such translations acceptable or objectionable to the target culture. The implicit agreement between translator and audience requires a need of verisimilitude that in dubbing is surprisingly found in the performance of the actors and the adequate register rather than in a good synchronisation (104). As for subtitling, a code of good practice is included without further details. According to the author, the study of how the target texts are inserted within the polysystem of the target culture needs further studying. This will help improving the quality of future translations.
Chapter six is dedicated to the professional conditions of the audiovisual translators. In it we find an explanation of the different stages of both dubbing and subtitling. Chaume stands out as a staunch defender of the amalgamation of the translator and ajustador ('dialogue writer') in one person. The chapter concludes by claiming a series of improvements to the profession (145-6). Whilst right in many of his claims, the author, when demanding a European standard for the audiovisual translators, fails to acknowledge associations like ESIST.
The second part of the book, which addresses the translation of the audiovisual text, starts with chapter seven. This chapter highlights the conditions required for the preparation of professionals. It also pinpoints the conventions that rule both translating modes: dubbing and subtitling. In chapter eight, Chaume discusses whether past textual classifications can be useful when studying audiovisual translation. Here he suggests that due to the heterogeneous character of this field, two other elements must be taken into account when considering audiovisual texts: the codes of sound (which he explores in chapter nine) and image (which he covers in chapter ten). As this is an interdisciplinary book, Film Studies and Translation Studies are combined in an attempt to fully cover the factors involved.
In his conclusion, the author acknowledges that other more general aspects of translation (such as the translation of humour and cultural references) were purposefully excluded because the aim of the book was to concentrate on factors exclusive to dubbing and subtitling. The inclusion of those factors was nonetheless necessary.
Although the title may suggest this is a manual for the student and future professional, the purposes of the study are of a more descriptive nature. The book, however, solidly and successfully approaches its objectives, and it stands as a major contribution to the analysis of this hybrid field of study.
University of Roehampton, Surrey
[i] See especially Mayoral Asensio, Roberto, Dorothy Kelly and Natividad Gallardo San Salvador. (1988). "Concept of Constrained Translation. Non-linguistic perspectives of translation". Meta 33(3): 356-367 and Hurtado Albir, Amparo. (1994-5). 'Modalidades y tipos de traducción'. In: Vasos comunicantes, 5, (invierno 94-5), 19-27; Vasos comunicantes, 5 (otoño 1995). Madrid: Sección Autónoma de Traductores de Libros de la ACE.