In Issue 1/2024

BOOK REVIEW: Reverter Oliver, B., Martínez Sierra. J.J., González Pastor, D. & Carrero Martín, J. F. (Eds.) (2021). Modalidades de traducción audiovisual: Completando el espectro. Editorial Comares.


In their Spanish-language academic book Modalidades de traducción audiovisual: Completando el espectro, (Modalities of Audiovisual Translation: Completing the Spectrum) the four editors have explored the field of audiovisual translation through different trends related to the new technologies and new ways of consuming audiovisual products. Due to the exponential growth of audiovisual translation in multilingual contexts, this volume is targeted at professionals and academics who are interested in recent research and the professional strategies followed in this field.

Although the book is about multilingual translation, we can see similarities with professional reporting and transcription, since in both fields the professionals must adapt to the different contexts, limitations and characteristics found in materials, and to different audiences. Each chapter of the book focuses on a specific type of audiovisual translation as applied in different contexts. In this review, I will analyse the types and fields of audiovisual translation discussed in the book, chapter by chapter. I will also highlight their relevance to intralingual reporting and transcription.

The book starts with the most popular types of audiovisual translation: dubbing, which relates to the translation of dialogue and oral interventions by characters in audiovisual products, and subtitling, which is the translation from the oral of dialogue into written text. The chapters focus on the less-known practices that complete the current spectrum of knowledge. The introduction to the volume provides a review of audiovisual translation studies and their evolution over time, which could be useful for professionals interested in making a start in audiovisual translation. This way, the reader has context to truly understand the impact and importance of each chapter’s domain.

Perspectives on Dubbing

The first chapter, by Frederic Chaume and Julio de los Reyes Lozano, discusses cloud dubbing. The authors review the transformations seen in audiovisual translation in recent years and offer a new professional perspective, related to dubbing in the cloud. They describe this new practice, which consists of developing the dubbing process (ie, integrating all the parts related to the procedure) with cloud computing. The authors also explain its characteristics and provide examples of software that involves cloud dubbing, such as ZOODubs. This approach might also be relevant for respeakers and their practices of transcribing oral speech.

Professional dubbing is also the main topic of chapter 2, where María Ferrer-Simó writes about the original dubbing of the Japanese anime series “One Piece”. In this chapter, the author visits the professional working context in Japan, drawing on her own professional experience. She describes the procedure followed in the original Japanese dubbing in Tokyo and provides material to illustrate its different stages.

Reporting and transcription, much like dubbing, demand a high level of accuracy, attention to detail, and a deep understanding of context. Reporters must faithfully convey events and interviews, while transcribers must accurately convert spoken words into written text. Similarly, professional dubbing requires precise synchronisation of dialogue with on-screen actions, faithful translation and adaptation of the original script, and a nuanced capture of the characters’ emotions and cultural context.

Subtitling from Anime Songs to Theatre Plays

The third chapter, by Luis Alis Ferrer, discusses the modality of subtitling. Ferrer discusses professional strategies related to subtitling songs used at the openings and endings of Japanese anime episodes. The author discusses the complexity of translating lyrics that arises from the limitations set by timing. The need to translate lyrics accurately while adhering to strict time limits is a task that demands precision and creativity, mirroring the skills required in both reporting and transcription.

Different challenges are presented by the subtitling of theatre texts, discussed in chapter 4 by Alejandro L. Lapeña. Analysing the translation of two plays, the author stresses the importance of the translator’s role and that of other professionals involved in the theatre process, such as directors and actors. This collaboration is crucial in maintaining the essence and emotional impact of the original work, akin to the collaborative nature of reporting and transcription, where journalists and transcribers often work closely with sources to ensure the accuracy and authenticity of the final output.

Register, Style and Humour

With this book, professionals can also get to know about the training and different coping techniques related to register, style and humour in the context of audiovisual translation. In chapter 5, Carla Botella Tejera, Oliver Carreira Martínez and Nieves Gamonal Simón write about the concept of transcreation—a translation modality that is strongly related to creativity and demands attention to the register, style or emotive impact of the translated product. Furthermore, the idea of transcreation aligns closely with the tasks of reporters and transcribers, who frequently need to rephrase or adapt content to ensure clarity and engagement for their audiences.

In chapter 6, André Höchemer analyses the challenges in translating humour. In his analysis, he uses practical examples from a German translation of the popular Spanish comic saga Mortadelo y Filemón. These concepts are directly applicable to the fields of reporting and transcription, where professionals must often navigate similar challenges of register, style and humour.

Translating Video Games

In chapter 7, Carmen Mangiron introduces the reader to a current outlook of accessibility in videogames. The author describes the current difficulties found in translating videogames and points out the needs different users have in order to play. This chapter’s focus on accessibility resonates with the principles of reporting and transcription, where ensuring that content is accessible to a broad audience, including those with disabilities, is paramount. Reporters and transcribers must consider how to present information clearly and inclusively, ensuring that their work is accessible to all.

Next, chapter 8 by Rubén González Pascual focuses on the professional perspective of testing videogames. Testing ensures that the videogame works properly and that there are no mistakes or bugs in it. In this chapter, the author focuses on the testing of oral and written translations in the game. This meticulous process is akin to the rigorous editing and fact-checking procedures in reporting and transcription. Reporters and transcribers, like videogame testers, must meticulously review their work to maintain high standards of quality and accuracy.

The final chapter of the book, by Laura Mejías-Climent, focuses on interactive technology in translating game situations. She identifies the characterisation found in the different interactive dimensions in action and adventure videogames. She provides examples that show how interactions might change the game localisation, particularly dubbing, depending on restrictions in different situations. Just as game localisers must adapt translations to fit interactive contexts, reporters and transcriptionists must adapt their output to fit the context and nuances of the original content. This involves capturing the right tone, style, and emotional nuances to accurately reflect the source material.

A Must for Getting Started

This volume sheds new light on the audiovisual translation landscape. In doing so, it offers up a wide variety of its popular modalities, such as dubbing and subtitling, and the lesser-known modalities of comics, theatre, videogames and transcreation. Even though the spectrum could be complemented with other modalities, such as respeaking or revoicing, this book already provides a good range of the present audiovisual translation trends in academia and the different professional fields.

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

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