Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Dubbing has been practised for many years all over the world. As Chaume points out, it is ‘one of the oldest modes of ‘AVT’ and ‘it origins can be traced back to the late 1920’s’ (2012: 1); as a matter of fact, it is when ‘written language on screen in silent movies were introduced, with intertitles, that translation becomes essential to the full understanding of filmic narration’ (2012: 10). However, even if dubbing has been used for almost a century, just over ten years ago, Jorge Díaz-Cintas (2004b: 50) reminded us that ‘very little research’ had been done in AVT when compared to other genres such as literary translation for instance. Nevertheless, since then, the situation has dramatically changed and there is now a healthy amount of studies on the various AVT modes such as subtitling (including subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing), voice over, audiodescription and dubbing. This chapter specifically takes a look at dubbing by providing an overview of how this AVT mode has developed since it was first used when sound was introduced in cinema. This overview will be divided into two main parts; the first part considers the dubbing process from the point of view of practice while the second one reflects on dubbing from a research angle. When approaching dubbing as a practice, the first subsection will focus on the constraints inherent to the dubbing process. Emphasis will be put specifically on synchronisation; ‘one of the key factors’ in dubbing understood in its largest sense as a process consisting of ‘matching the target language translation and the articulatory and mouth movements of the screen actors and actresses, and ensuring that the utterances and pauses in the translation match those of the source text’ (Chaume 2012: 68). There are three types of synchronisation. The first one, lip or phonetic synchrony, consists of ‘adapting the translation to the articulatory movements of the on-screen characters, especially in close-ups and extreme close-ups’ as well as details mouth shots (ibid). The second one, kinesic synchrony, is ‘the synchronisation of the translation with the actors’ body movements’ (ibid.: 69) and the third one, ‘isochrony’, corresponds to the ‘synchronisation of the duration of the translation with the screen characters’ utterances (Chaume after Whitman-Linsen 1992: 28). This discussion on constraints will also include a consideration of the various AV genres particularly cinema and television series and how synchronisation is dealt with in those contexts. From constraints the discussion will then move on to the many agents involved in the dubbing process. Indeed, a dubbing product is the result of the work of many people: translators (who produce a rough translation), spotters, dialogue writers (and sometimes dubbing assistants), dubbing directors, actors (also known as dubbing actors, dubbing artists, dubbers or voice talents), and sound engineers. Their roles will therefore be presented in order to offer a better understanding of the chain of production at work in dubbing. When presenting these agents, the emphasis will be on their role in the production chain; in the second main part, on dubbing research, these agents will be mentioned again but my focus will be on the role they play from a research perspective. The final subsection will consider how dubbing is performed by professionals and fans in various countries or parts of the world; Europe, Asia, the Americas, Africa and Oceania, since different practices or traditions exist according to where dubbing is practiced or performed. Throughout this discussion the influence and impact of new technology on dubbing practices will be considered. Finally, after this ‘history’ of the dubbing area, the second part of the chapter will consider dubbing as a field of research by discussing critically the main current issues with which AVT scholars have being engaging.
In the second part the various aspects of the dubbing process will be taken into consideration from a research angle. I will go back to the three types of synchronies to present how technical constraints have been dealt with in the literature and also consider the various themes and challenges which have attracted the attention of scholars. The first subsection will therefore put emphasis on dubbing as a specific type of discourse since dubbed dialogue has been described as a ‘combination of linguistic features used both in spoken and written texts (Remael 2000; Chaume 2004a; Pérez-González 2007)’ (Chaume 2012: 81) and various scholars have worked on the specific sound that dubbing has, as opposed to the sound of original dialogues. Works on ‘dubbese’ (Pavesi 1996), ‘secondary speech’ (Remael 2003: 227) and ‘prefabricated orality’ (Tomaszkiewicz 2001: 381) will be therefore be presented in order to gain a better understanding of the kinds of challenges associated with dubbing. Then the three types of synchronisation posing problems from a practice perspective; lip or phonetic synchrony, kinesic synchrony, and ‘isochrony’ will be reconsidered through the works of scholars who have helped creating a discussion on the importance of synchronisation in dubbing (e.g. Agost 1999, Chaume 2004c, 2012, Chaves 2000, Fodor 1976, Goris 1993, Luyken et al 1991, Mayoral et al. 1988, and Whitman Linsen 1992). The third subsection will discuss studies in dubbing dealing with various themes, including works on translational norms or conventions in the target culture, the translation of ideological and cultural elements, the translation of humor, dialects, multilingualism, censorship, and performance (including characterization and specific attributes of voices such as accents and intonation). These studies will be presented not only according to their themes but also in terms of the research methods that their authors have used to answer their research questions. There will be a particular emphasis on interdisciplinarity, since scholars such as Chaume (2004 and 2012) have called for a better conversation and more convergence between Film Studies and Audiovisual Translation Studies. Closely related to interdisciplinarity, multimodality will be one of my primary foci since many scholars (e.g. Bosseaux 2015, Pérez-González 2007 and Chaume 2012) advocate the importance of not only considering the linguistic mode but also the other modes composing an AV text such as the audio and visual components when analyzing audiovisual products, be they films, television series, documentaries or video games. This discussion of research methods will therefore take into consideration the current trajectories of dubbing research and the new debates with which scholars are engaging. As part of this exposition the influence of new technology on dubbing research will also be considered. It is also in this section that the impact of the internet and social media as well as fandubbing will be incorporated since these are changing the way translation professionals and audience think about dubbing and watch AV material. The chapter will conclude with a summary section bringing together the main points of the chapter, a list of related topics, a references list and suggestions for further readings.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Audiovisual Translation Studies
EditorsLuis Pérez-González
ISBN (Electronic)9781315717166
ISBN (Print)9781138859524
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sep 2018

Publication series

NameThe Routledge Handbook of Audiovisual Translation Studies


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