The Rise and Rise of Audiovisual Translation

We recently published Fast-Forwarding with Audiovisual Translation edited by Jorge Díaz Cintas and Kristijan Nikolić. In this post the editors discuss how the field of audiovisual translation has changed over time and how their new book contributes to the conversation.

Croatia, the native land of Kristijan, belongs to the group of the so-called subtitling countries, whereas Spain, from where Jorge hails, is firmly rooted in the practice of dubbing. Or so some used to say, as changes in the field of audiovisual translation have taken place so fast in the last decades that such neat, clear-cut distinctions are difficult to justify these days. Everything seems to be in flux.

Technological advancements have had a great impact on the way we deal with the translation and distribution of audiovisual productions, and the switchover from analogue to digital technology at the turn of the last millennium proved to be particularly pivotal. In the age of digitisation and pervasiveness of the internet, the world has become smaller, contact across languages and cultures has accelerated and audiovisual translation has never been so prominent. VHS tapes have long gone, the DVD came and went in what felt like a blink of an eye, Blu-rays never quite made it as a household phenomenon and, in the age of the cloud, we have become users of streaming, aka OTT (over the top) distribution, where the possession of actual physical items is a thing of the past. We now rely on video-on-demand and watch audiovisual productions in real time, ‘over the screen’, without the need to download them to our computer, thanks to the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and Iflix to name but a few. And, as a matter of fact, most of the programmes come accompanied by subtitles and dubbed versions in various languages, with many also including subtitles for the deaf and the hard-of-hearing and audio description for the blind and the partially sighted. Never before has translation been so prominent on screen.

The collection of chapters in our new book, written by authors from a panoply of countries, offers a state of the art overview of the discipline and practice of audiovisual translation that goes to show how much we have moved on from those analogue days. With the title of this book, Fast-Forwarding with Audiovisual Translation, we have tried to convey that feeling of rapid movement so characteristic of this professional practice, where nothing stands still. Though irremediably a snapshot of the present, the various contributions therein also embrace some of the changes taking place nowadays and announce some of the ones looming ahead. From cognitive approaches to AVT, including experiments with eyetracking, to the translation of cultural references and humour, and to the use of subtitling in language learning, the book will take readers through fascinating new findings in this field.

For more information about this book please see our website. If you found this interesting, you might also like Jorge Díaz Cintas’ 2009 book, New Trends in Audiovisual Translation

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