Lesson Five Film Dubbing
Film language • Filmese
A complex semiotic event • In everyday conversation, much language use is in fact formulaic in nature, and much ordinary talk is humdrum and banal, whereas the time and space constraints of films, and the need to relate interesting, exciting or engaging stories, leads to an excess of highly pertinent, dramatic or intriguing exchanges.
"short, sharp and tight" • Actual conversation seems to the listener to be extremely garbled with people apparently speaking at the same time, making false starts and so on, while much film dialogue seems to be clearly separated, as actors take their cues with unerring accuracy.
Pleases and thankyous • Real dialogue is peppered with phatic devices, particularly repeated pleases and thankyous regardless of whether actual requests, offers or favours are involved.
A lifetime of experience • In real life every individual is in fact called upon to play a variety of roles in his or her normal activity, and in some senses follows an unwritten script. Although this is precisely what a film actor is required to do, the real life role is based on a lifetime of experience, responsibility and interaction that the scriptwriter or actor cannot easily invent.
By the way… • In ordinary dialogue an initial topic of conversation often gives way to a series of sub-topics, or even to totally different subjects, often signalled by markers of the Still..., Ooh... type.
BUT… • if the actor...spoke as people do in 'real life', with frequent non sequiturs, false starts, allusions, digressions, sentence fragments, etc. ...the audience would be unlikely to be getting the information it needs to get, in order that the 'two hours traffic of the stage (or film) emerges as a whole and understandable experience • (Gregory 1978: 43).
Conversation - an ongoing phenomenon • Any specific interaction is just one part of a continuing conversation which, strictly, has no absolute beginning or end - only provisional, though decisive, points of opening and closure. • Conversation is therefore part of that larger dialogue we call, variously, society, history and culture. • (Pope, 1998: 223)
Dramatic……….pauses • Research has shown that, generally speaking, pauses of one second or more are rare in ordinary conversation, while dramatic pauses in film scenes are often simulated and belie this statistic, through the need to create dramatic pauses.
“Come up and see me sometime” • Major film stars are often given 'good lines' showing how witty, urbane or 'streetwise' they are.
Back to multimodality • People never express meaning through only one channel; when speaking they also use gesture, gaze, positioning, etc. Film audiences do not participate directly in the dialogue unfolding on the screen; they are more or less distant observers and cannot be expected to pick up every nuance of non-verbal communication.
Special case of translation • Film is a complex semiotic system consisting of verbal and non-verbal components
Dubbing • Gr. diplos; • lat. dopiare; • Fr. doubler; • Eng. to double false
Sergio Jacquier • “quando si ha la sensazione che un film sia recitato in italiano, allora si ha un buon doppiaggio”
Research • See proceedings of conferences in Forlì and Trieste: • E.g. • “Il doppiaggio: trasposizioni linguistiche e culturali” • “Traduzione multimediale per il cinema, la televisione e la scena” • “La traduzione multimediale: Quale traduzione per quale testo?”
Research Trieste • See proceedings of conferences in Forlì and Trieste: • E.g. • «Tradurre il Cinema» • «Emerging topics in Translation: Audio description» • AD Day
Good and Bad • Horse Feathers • Many Rivers to Cross/Un napoletano nel far west • Friends
Talking Points • Film language • Levels of predictability • Translation (dubbing, subtitling)
Film language • Starting from the premise that film language is an artificial product “written to be spoken as if not written” (Gregory, 1992), we can agree with Marshall and Werndly (2002) that • “the only reason that characters talk to each other in television texts is so that the viewer can listen to them; not, as in real conversation, so that they can listen to each other”,
APS Thus film language consists of clear-cut cues and guided discourse (cf. Ochs - planned and unplanned discourse). The flow of images is created by film directors, cameramen, set designers, etc. in the construction of an artificial situation. Similarly the language (and grammar) of film is a scripted construct created by screenplay writers and editors, altered by directors and actors, subsequently by dubbing actors, subtitlers, etc. in the creation of an “artificially produced situation” (APS)
Film language and genre • The APS can also be identified in terms of genre. • The blanket expression ‘film genre’ brings to mind such types as western, spy story, comedy, etc. • But films have their sub-genres and genrelets.
Seinfeld - ‘The Revenge’ • LEVITAN: Remind me to tell you what we did in Lake George. Get this … I got it all on video. (laughing) • GEORGE: That’s it. This is it. I’m done. Through. It’s over. I’m gone. Finished. Over. I will never work for you again. Look at you. You think you’re an important man. Is that what you think? You are a laughing stock. You are a joke. These people are laughing at you. You’re nothing! You have no brains, no ability, nothing!. I quit!
Filmese? • Compare the language of film with a spoken corpus of English. • Bank of English • Bergen • Etc.
Spoken language • Hesitation, repetition, filled pauses, false starts, etc: CRYSTAL • Lower lexical density: HALLIDAY • Marked neutralisation of unstressed vowels: DOWNING & LOCKE • Focus on interpersonal involvement: TANNEN
Spoken language 2 • Use of large number of prefabricated fillers, both interactive and planning • (eg. so, well) • BROWN & YULE • Immediacy of context… is reflected in a high number of discourse markers • (eg. well, right) • McCARTHY
Examples chosen • NOW • WELL • RIGHT • SO • OK • YES
Sci-fi 1 - ALIEN (1979) • Words 20,291 • now 5 • well 4 • right 16 • yes 0 • OK 4 • so 3
Metropolis (1926) • now 0 • well 2 • right 1 • yes 4 • OK 1 • so 15
Sci-fi films - total • Words 1,014,498 • now 270 • well 605 • right 176 • yes 212 • OK 293 • so 393
Bank of English • Words 1,000,000 circa • now 620 • well 2990 • right 3650 • yes 3830 • OK 1150 • so 4800
Realistic films - Casino • now 20 • well 66 • right 25 • yes 18 • OK 71 • so 55
As good as it gets • Words 21,161 • now 4 • well 31 • right 3 • yes 4 • OK 32 • so 39
Realistic films - total • Words 995,746 • now 377 • well 1179 • right 260 • yes 238 • OK 670 • so 1032
A Spanish example Friends
Methodology • Comparison between dubbing language and the register it imitates (colloquial conversation), taking into account AVT particularities. • Corpora: - Parallel corpus: Friends in English (ST): 150,000 words. Friends dubbed into Spanish (TT): 150,000 words. - Comparable corpus: Spanish sitcom Siete Vidas (SV): 150,000 words. - Reference corpus: CREA (colloquial conversation): 10 million words.
Intertextuality • In genrelets such as telephone call protocols, presentations, service encounters, etc. there is usually little creative language use. The same formulae are used over and over again, with the same cues and the same response mechanisms. Words and expressions are PRIMED (Hoey) to appear in particular environments.
Predictability • And it is these genrelets that are of interest in the tracking down of predictability. • E.g., telephone conversations, presentations, mealtime dialogue, bar talk, boy-girl exchanges, etc.
Translation Memory At times the predictability is so pronounced that an element of translation memory technique, technologically aided or otherwise, could prove useful. At least the predictability factor should be taken into account in order to save time and particularly to ensure consistency.
Predictability and Translation The three strategies of NEUTRALISATION LOCALISATION FOREIGNISATION can be associated with predictability levels
Predictability cline High predictability (neutralise) Medium predictability (localise) Low predictability (foreignise)
Predictability cont. But more or less predictable subgenres and gernrelets can appear within a predominantly high predictability or low predictability film.
Predictability and Genre There is a general correlation between predictability and genre. The more mundane the genre (many TV series, soap operas, etc.), the more predictable the dialogue. The more serious/intellectual/highbrow the genre, the less predictable the dialogue.