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Linguistic and cultural representation in audiovisual translation

International Conference

Sapienza Università di Roma & Università degli Studi di Roma Tre

Rome, 11-13 February 2016

Given the enormous and ever-increasing impact of audiovisual products on the general public, the representations that audiovisual texts convey of other languages and cultures cannot be underestimated. Films have been chief players in the construction of linguistic and cultural identities (Kozloff 2000, Bleichenbacher 2008), which is always the result of an act of selection of traits and features, both visual and verbal. Their critical role in reinforcing negative stereotypes has not been overlooked by scholars (Lippi-Green 1997), and so has the role of technical and ideological manipulation in shaping audiovisual texts and their translation (Díaz-Cintas 2012), while the creative, positive role of films in constructing images of other languages and cultures has been comparatively neglected by research, as has the similar role played by audiovisual products other than cinematographic films.

The translation process is a further step in the direction of shaping representation. As Venuti (1998) points out, “[t]ranslation wields enormous power in constructing representations of foreign cultures” and translated audiovisual texts in particular have the power “to produce insights into the cultures and languages represented” (Guillot 2012), to add further layers of meanings and to create new webs of associations only alluded to, if not altogether missing, in the original texts. Studies conducted on dubbing and subtitling have shown the mimetic capacity of some linguistic features to convey pragmatic meaning and sociolinguistic variation in both source and target languages (Pavesi 2009). Particular emphasis has been placed on audiovisual translation as a site of representational practice (Pérez-González 2014), on the representations that translations convey, on their serving as “a locus for (re)-negotiations of individual and group identities”, “as a vehicle promoting crosscultural and cross-linguistic sensitivity”, and “as agents of hybridisation of communicative practices” (Guillot 2012). The linguistic resources employed by translators in the representation of language varieties and communicative practices have also been an area of increased scholarly interest (Brumme and Espunya 2012).

This conference aims to explore the expressive and representational potential of the interplay of words, images, sounds and silences on the screen focussing on the negotiation of identity in audiovisual texts, and, more generally, on audiovisual translation as a mode of intercultural exchange. Linguistic and cultural representation will be ideally investigated from various viewpoints: that of the power of script-writers and translators to create, reinforce or undermine assumptions about the foreign language and culture represented; that of the audiences who negotiate the representations and meanings conveyed by audiovisual texts; that of stylistic and generic conventions, which contribute to shaping cultural and linguistic representation via established features and topoi in both source and target texts; and that of participatory translation practices, which are playing an important role in challenging and reshaping established representational schemas and conventions.