This section will explore the multimodal approach to audiovisual translation. It must first be stressed, however, that most research on multimodality has not as yet focused on questions of translation. The Routledge Handbook of Multimodal Analysis edited by Carey Jewitt (2009), which contains articles by most of the leading figures in the field, while representing a major step forward in multimodal studies, does not tackle translation head on. The word ‘translation’ does not even appear in the index. Over a relatively short time span, most of the major contributions to the field have been more purely linguistically based and intent on providing keys to the understanding of the interplay of semiotic resources (words, images, gesture, music, light, etc., see O’Toole, 1994; Kress & van Leuwen, 1996; Martinec, 2000; Unsworth, 2001; Baldry & Thibault, 2001, 2005, 2006, etc.). The work of these scholars, however, has provided an impetus to developing ideas on how to exploit multimodal analyses in the area of AVT. Thibault’s work, for example, on the ‘multimodal transcription’ provided this author with the basis for investigating how the integration of semiotic modalities in a film text could assist the subtitler in making those all-important decisions on what to retain and what to discard when faced with time constraints. Other scholars have studied the co-articulation of verbiage and image (O’Halloran, 2008; Bednarek, 2010), including exponents of systemic-functional linguistics in their discussion of how different modalities realize social functions and make meaning. It is important to supplement purely linguistic analyses with studies of all the other semiotic resources that make up a multimodal text. Findings will inevitably be reported verbally but the analyses need to explore the concept of integration and how other resources can interact with language. It is the relevance of these studies to translation that forms the focus of this section. Studies on multimodality have had some effect on audiovisual translation (cf. proceedings of the MuTra conference, 2006 on Audiovisual Translation Scenarios), but the field is so vast that it would be true to say that only the surface has been scratched and much deeper digging is required. For example, the multimodal transcription, as adapted for AVT research, has proved useful in sensitizing students to the intricacies of translating film texts, etc., but is totally impractical for AV texts of more than a few minutes’ duration. For this reason the concept of phasal analysis (Gregory, 1985; Malcolm, 2011) has been superimposed on the multimodal transcription theory to provide a more manageable tool of analysis. This approach enables the translator to identify homogeneous ‘phases’, both continuous and discontinuous, within a multimodal text and to recognize register changes, character traits, and elements of cohesion and coherence that, if ignored, can lead to inconsistencies in translation. Although this methodology too is in its infancy and much further research is required, the technological advances that have accompanied the growth in multimodal research, providing us with multimodal corpora and relational databases, will undoubtedly accelerate the process. So, notwithstanding the fact that the enormous potential of multimodality studies for the field of AVT has not yet been fully tapped, work is currently being pursued. The above-mentioned Routledge Handbook, and other respected volumes on multimodality (Jones & Ventola, 2008; Baldry & Montagna, 2009) provide an excellent basis for those wishing to graft multimodal analyses onto the methodology of audiovisual translation studies. The modes, to use Gunther Kress’s term, that make up multimodal texts together design a multimodal product. The choice of modes is crucial in that different modes can do different things and there are things that cannot be done by certain modes in certain cultures. These are the areas that should interest translators, together with the ability to identify different aspects of meaning in different modes and be sensitive to the atmosphere, the tensions and the emotions that multiomodal texts can engender. It is the organization of content and expression in a multimodal text that provides the key to its meaning and the means for its translation.

The multimodal approach in audiovisual translation

TAYLOR, CHRISTOPHER JOHN
2016

Abstract

This section will explore the multimodal approach to audiovisual translation. It must first be stressed, however, that most research on multimodality has not as yet focused on questions of translation. The Routledge Handbook of Multimodal Analysis edited by Carey Jewitt (2009), which contains articles by most of the leading figures in the field, while representing a major step forward in multimodal studies, does not tackle translation head on. The word ‘translation’ does not even appear in the index. Over a relatively short time span, most of the major contributions to the field have been more purely linguistically based and intent on providing keys to the understanding of the interplay of semiotic resources (words, images, gesture, music, light, etc., see O’Toole, 1994; Kress & van Leuwen, 1996; Martinec, 2000; Unsworth, 2001; Baldry & Thibault, 2001, 2005, 2006, etc.). The work of these scholars, however, has provided an impetus to developing ideas on how to exploit multimodal analyses in the area of AVT. Thibault’s work, for example, on the ‘multimodal transcription’ provided this author with the basis for investigating how the integration of semiotic modalities in a film text could assist the subtitler in making those all-important decisions on what to retain and what to discard when faced with time constraints. Other scholars have studied the co-articulation of verbiage and image (O’Halloran, 2008; Bednarek, 2010), including exponents of systemic-functional linguistics in their discussion of how different modalities realize social functions and make meaning. It is important to supplement purely linguistic analyses with studies of all the other semiotic resources that make up a multimodal text. Findings will inevitably be reported verbally but the analyses need to explore the concept of integration and how other resources can interact with language. It is the relevance of these studies to translation that forms the focus of this section. Studies on multimodality have had some effect on audiovisual translation (cf. proceedings of the MuTra conference, 2006 on Audiovisual Translation Scenarios), but the field is so vast that it would be true to say that only the surface has been scratched and much deeper digging is required. For example, the multimodal transcription, as adapted for AVT research, has proved useful in sensitizing students to the intricacies of translating film texts, etc., but is totally impractical for AV texts of more than a few minutes’ duration. For this reason the concept of phasal analysis (Gregory, 1985; Malcolm, 2011) has been superimposed on the multimodal transcription theory to provide a more manageable tool of analysis. This approach enables the translator to identify homogeneous ‘phases’, both continuous and discontinuous, within a multimodal text and to recognize register changes, character traits, and elements of cohesion and coherence that, if ignored, can lead to inconsistencies in translation. Although this methodology too is in its infancy and much further research is required, the technological advances that have accompanied the growth in multimodal research, providing us with multimodal corpora and relational databases, will undoubtedly accelerate the process. So, notwithstanding the fact that the enormous potential of multimodality studies for the field of AVT has not yet been fully tapped, work is currently being pursued. The above-mentioned Routledge Handbook, and other respected volumes on multimodality (Jones & Ventola, 2008; Baldry & Montagna, 2009) provide an excellent basis for those wishing to graft multimodal analyses onto the methodology of audiovisual translation studies. The modes, to use Gunther Kress’s term, that make up multimodal texts together design a multimodal product. The choice of modes is crucial in that different modes can do different things and there are things that cannot be done by certain modes in certain cultures. These are the areas that should interest translators, together with the ability to identify different aspects of meaning in different modes and be sensitive to the atmosphere, the tensions and the emotions that multiomodal texts can engender. It is the organization of content and expression in a multimodal text that provides the key to its meaning and the means for its translation.
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