Topics in Audiovisual Translation. Orero, Pilar (2004) Topics in Audiovisual Translation.
Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, pp. xiii, 225,
ISBN 1 58811 569 0/$119.00. ISBN 90 272 1662 2 / 99.00 €.
Topics in Audiovisual Translation is edited by Pilar Orero, of the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, and the essays contained in the book are based on a series of guest lectures delivered to students on the new postgraduate course in Audiovisual Translation now offered at that institution. In her introduction, the editor makes a strong, decisive case for the privileging of the term AVT over its competitors, including screen translation, "since screen translation would leave out for example translations made for theatre or radio, and the term multimedia is widely perceived as related to the field of IT. Audiovisual Translation will encompass all translations- or multisemiotic transfer- for production or postproduction in any media or format, and also the new areas of media accessibility: subtitling for the deaf and hard of hearing and audiodescription for the blind and the visually impaired." (vii-viii).
The volume is divided into five sections starting with professional perspectives on dubbing and subtitling and then moving on to deal with theory, ideology, teaching and research. The early inclusion of input from AVT specialists with current industrial experience is welcome, not least because academics and students may often find it hard to keep abreast of the very latest trends and practices in an industry where commercial considerations and new technology can result in rapid changes in some aspects of AVT professionals' work.
In section two dealing with theory, Días Cintas provides a useful DTS framework for AVT study before Chaume focuses on a proposed approach to synchronization which, in some respects, is at variance with current practice as described by Martínez in the first section. One is left wondering to what extent and over what period of time it is possible for recommendations such as Chaume's to filter back into the industry and result in new approaches being adopted to the translation of dubbing scripts. In the same section, Bartoll looks at new ways of classifying subtitles in the light of the new types of subtitles now available.
The third section is devoted to questions of ideology, but might have been more appropriately called political implications of AVT, with Agost looking at dubbing in a bilingual environment, Spain, and Gottlieb looking at how the smaller European countries are forced for commercial reasons to buy cheap English language AV material and then subtitle it. Gottlieb fears that this kind of unidirectional AVT will do little to foster linguistic and cultural diversity even amongst close neighbours.
Section four deals with teaching AVT. Remael emphasises the importance of AVT translators learning about film dialogue and understanding screen writing techniques. Neves's essay adds to the growing body of work that supports the idea that AVT training can develop many transferable linguistic and other skills even if students do not go on to work in the AVT field. The teaching section concludes with a very interesting, detailed account of the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona's innovative postgraduate programme in AVT, which is delivered on-line. From 2005, it will be available at Master's level.
The final, fifth section of the book is devoted to research and starts with a proposal from Bartrina that future research should look at AVT from the points of view of "study of the screenplay, film adaptation, audience design, pragmatics and Polysystems theory" (158). She argues that we need to get to grips with "the economic and sociocultural geography of audiovisual translation...." (165) so as to understand "questions of power, control and the dependence in Europe on the audiovisual products coming from the United States" (ibid). Gambier addresses film adaptation and proposes a new term 'tradaptation' while Espasa makes a strong, spirited case for documentary films to be viewed as mainstream within AVT, having hitherto been treated as something of a poor relation. And finally, the collection ends with an interesting essay by Santiago on subtitling in Brazil where a distinction can be made between the linguistic content of open and closed subtitles, the former- but not the latter- normally being condensed. As a result, closed subtitles are currently far from suited to the needs of the local deaf community.
All in all, although the essays vary considerably in length and substance, it is clear that the editor has taken her responsibilities seriously and provided us with a wide-ranging selection of essays on various aspects of current activity in Audiovisual Translation. The contributions, except Gambier's in French, appear in English and although it is unlikely any of the contributors are native speakers of English, the high standard of expression puts many similar volumes to shame and shows evidence of the editor's professionalism. Too often edited collections appearing in English do not undergo the linguistic revision they require before publication-and this shows a lack of understanding of editorial responsibility and the value of clarity of expression, especially when a work can be expected to be read by many for whom English is not their first language.
Finally a small gripe: in her acknowledgements, the editor thanks John Macarthy (sic) for his translations. However, it is unfortunately not clear reading through the book which texts he has translated. As translators strive for increased visibility and appreciation of their work, it is important that we give good example by foregrounding the work of translators and acknowledging their input in a prominent way. Mention of the translator alongside the titles and authors in the table of contents or the inclusion of the translator's name under or after the author's at the beginning of each translated contribution are possible ways of giving the translator the full credit due.
Eithne O'Connell, Centre for Translation and Textual Studies, School of Applied Language and Intercultural Studies, Dublin City University, Ireland. Eithne.email@example.com