In Issue 1/2023

BOOK REVIEW: Eugeni, Carlo & Gambier, Yves (2023). La traduction intralinguistique: les défis de la diamésie. Timișoara: Editura Politechica.

In La traduction intralinguistique: les défis de la diamésie, Carlo Eugeni and Yves Gambier seek to shed light on the convergence of accessibility and technologies in audiovisual translation. To do so, they strip away the current transformations of the translation discipline and its multiple practices together with the current practices and challenges in audiovisual translation.

The book pays specific attention to the late evolutions in translation studies and tries to create a theoretical framework for diamesic translation, or the transposition from speech to written text in the same language. As the authors show, this shares the same tactics found in interlingual modes, such as subtitling, dubbing and translation proper. To illustrate the procedure of diamesic translation, Eugeni and Gambier methodically write four chapters to illustrate the difficulties found in this mode, together with the reality of professionals and a list of applied translation techniques inspired by Chesterman’s taxonomy (1997) – which analyses the syntactic, semantic and stylistic features of the source text – and derived from studies related to translation and text linguistics.

The first chapter, “Les multiples dimensions de la traduction”, written by Gambier, reflects on the history of translation studies and its multiple rubrics in theoretical and analytical models, which had and still have a huge impact on clients’ expectations as well as professional practices. Interlinguistic translation was and still is a meeting point when defining the translation concept, which leads us to different categorisations according to the translation mode. Gambier argues that different names for the same thing can lead to different points of view, and states that each translation answers to the plurality of text types by evolving and adapting to them. Furthermore, Gambier first reflects on the notions of linguistic varieties (Coșeriu, 1973) and intersemiotic translation (Jakobson, 1959). He then moves to the history of translation methods, from Cicero to cutting-edge technologies and the multimodal text. Finally, he discusses the interaction between written and spoken language, a proposal for a new concept of “text”, and intralinguistic and intersemiotic translation. To conclude, Gambier argues that changes in the paradigm are made where the cultural and political function of translation and translators are affected by all the changes indicated in this chapter.

In the second chapter, Gambier continues his reflection on the different modes and challenges of audiovisual translation by focusing on the codes of the same language (intralinguistic subtitles for language learners or for deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences, audio subtitling, or audio description for the blind or partially sighted) and the codes of different languages (interlinguistic subtitles, bilingual subtitles, dubbing, sight translation, free commentary, voice-over, surtitles or interpreting). He then discusses the current professional challenges that audiovisual translation poses, including the sociocultural implications, the impact of technologies used, and the competencies and training which are needed for it. The multiple dimensions of subtitles are further reviewed, as well as their evolution and their relation to the concept of a constrained, subordinated and selective translation mode. Subtitling tactics, such as reduction, simplification and expansion, are then illustrated. Finally, Gambier covers different genres, since they “determine which translation techniques are appropriate when translating them”.

The third chapter, written by Eugeni, looks for a taxonomy of diamesic translation tactics. To do so, Eugeni offers a unique definition of the concept of diamesic translation and classifies the different modes, together with their criteria and genres. The question of quality is also addressed, while the author pays special attention to translation units in both spoken and written language. Following Chesterman’s taxonomy (1997), Eugeni distinguishes among litteratim (techniques used to replace phonemes per graphemes and vice versa), verbatim (techniques used to replace the source text word per word), sensatim (techniques used to replace units of meaning per units of meaning) and signatim (techniques used to replace paraverbal and non-verbal elements) tactics, which are illustrated by means of generalisable examples.

In the fourth chapter, Eugeni applies this taxonomy to analyse both quantitatively and qualitatively the tactics applied by professionals in three different modes of diamesic translation: parliamentary reports, live subtitles, and subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing. In terms of parliamentary reports, they are not a “word per word transcription of the debates, but rather a revised version of them to guarantee clarity and avoid useless repetitions”. When it comes to live subtitles, they are reproduced by the respeaking technique, which consists of a professional (the respeaker) who listens to the source text and repeats the speech to an automatic speech recognition (ASR) software to transcribe the dictated text. When talking about subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing, their aim is “to make audiovisual programs accessible to those who have any type of hearing loss”. Eugeni and Gambier also show how different tactics are used in different contexts: parliamentary reporters use more verbatim tactics in order to transcribe the source text; live transcribers use more sensatim tactics to adapt the oral source text into written text; and subtitlers for the deaf and hard of hearing use more signatim tactics to make explicit the speaker’s identification.

Eugeni and Gambier conclude that translation studies are indeed a recent discipline in comparison with translation modes that try to keep up with the changes in the profession. When it comes to intralinguistic translation, the authors show how certain modes could be categorised in diamesic translation to meet the needs of their audiences. To extend awareness about the challenges and difficulties found in diamesic translation, Eugeni and Gambier underline the need for training to properly prepare future professionals in the field. In a nutshell, La traduction intralinguistique: les défis de la diamésie seeks to cover a translation mode which is still unknown. Future professionals and researchers will need to ensure that audiences’ needs are targeted, particularly in professional transcription and reporting.

Luz Belenguer Cortés is a live subtitler and an audiodescriptor in the Valencian tv station À Punt Mèdia and an associate lecturer at Universitat Jaume I, Spain.


Chesterman, A. (1997 / 2016) Memes of Translation. The Spread of Ideas in Translation Studies. Amsterdam et Philadelphia: Benjamins.

Coşeriu, E. (1973) Lezioni di linguistica generale, Turin: Boringhieri.

Eugeni, C. & Y. Gambier (2023) La traduction intralinguistique: les défis de la diamésie,Timişoara: Editura Politenhica.

Jakobson, R. (1959) On linguistic aspects of translation. The translation studies reader2, pp. 138-43.

  • Luigi Zambelli


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