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Bartoll, Eduard (2012). La subtitulació. Aspectes teòrics i pràctics.

Vic: Eumo, pp 215, €25. ISBN: 978-84-9766-442-4.

The rapid developments in technologies are opening up new fields of research into Audiovisual Translation (AVT) and into subtitling in particular. New types of subtitles have appeared and the existing classifications published to date need to be reviewed. The classification proposed by Bartoll may be considered a multidimensional approach dealing with numerous aspects related to the subtitling practice and process. The main purpose of the book is to provide guidance for subtitling research and practice. As a result, it can prove very useful to translation scholars and AVT researchers, as well as, to any professional or newcomer in the field.

The book consists of ten chapters and is structured from general to specific. Therefore, the first chapter includes an introduction into the term ‘audiovisual text’ and its main characteristics. Bartoll analyses the combination of different elements that form the audiovisual text, like verbal and non-verbal codes, and channels, like acoustic and visual. It next introduces a new type of text, which has not considered until now in AVT, that is — the ‘tactile.’ A clear example of this type of text is the Braille alphabet for the blind and visually impaired. Although this communication system is not new, it is closely related to accessibility, a rising field in AVT.

Chapter two reviews the definition of general translation and places the term AVT within Translation Studies. In addition, the author analyses the evolution of the term AVT and distinguishes it from the term ‘constrained translation’. Within this context, chapter three offers a definition of the different modalities and sub-modalities of AVT, illustrating each of them with relevant examples.

In chapter four Bartoll focuses on subtitling with special attention to subtitles in Catalan language. The author also provides a retrospective of the subtitling practice according to the format of the audiovisual product, e.g. the celluloid, television, VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, computer and electronic subtitles.

Chapter five presents a classification of subtitles, taking into account both the subtitling process and the audiovisual product. The classification results from the application of predetermined parameters, which are interrelated. This allows the author to consider all types of subtitles and to extend previous subtitle classifications published to date.

Chapter six explores formal aspects of the subtitle text, which are mostly determined and limited by space and time. In addition, it highlights the importance and implications of the switch from the oral to written channel and examines the relation between image and text. Finally, the author offers a useful review of the orthotypographic conventions established mainly among professionals.

Chapter seven represents the most practical part of the book and offers different strategies to solve time and space limitations in the subtitling practice. Additional tips how to solve other translation challenges, such as the transfer of humour or translation of songs, are presented.  

Chapter eight describes the complete process of subtitling, presenting different steps from the elaboration of subtitles to the display on the screen.

Chapter nine provides an insight into the subtitling practice from the professional perspective. It describes the entrepreneurial situation, organization and conditions in this field. An important contribution in this chapter is the description of the main subtitling programmes available for professionals and newcomers alike.

Chapter ten offers an extensive and useful bibliography of academic books and articles referred to in the book. This allows readers interested in subtitling to delve into relevant topics.

What is particularly helpful in the book is its didactic approach. The summing up questions at the end of each chapter can facilitate the learning of terms, strategies and techniques introduced in the different sections.

To sum up, the book presents insights into different theoretical questions, as well as the actual practice of subtitling. As such, it makes an important contribution to the literature on AVT and on subtitling in particular.

Estel·la Oncins Noguer, Centre d’Accessibilitat i Intel·ligència Ambiental de Catalunya (CaiaC), Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
E-mail: estella.oncins@uab.cat