Film dubbing as adaptation and (forced?) assimilation

Audissino, Emilio (2014) Film dubbing as adaptation and (forced?) assimilation. In: The Humanities 7th Annual Postgraduate Conference, 31 Mar 2014, Southampton, UK. (Unpublished)

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As widely known in translation studies, no translation comes without adaptation: translating means converting a source-language text into a target-language text bearing in mind that the cultural context of the target language is likely to be different. Adaptation is typically at work with those puns, proverbs or idiomatic expressions that are not translatable verbatim – e.g. the good luck wish “Break a leg” if translated as such into Italian makes exactly the opposite sense, sounding like a jinx.

Dubbing is one method of film translation – or better, of film adaptation. The major problem with dubbing is that, unlike subtitling, it replaces (destroys?) part of the film – the dialogue track – without leaving the original at hand for critical comparison. So, a film can be adapted arbitrarily without the audience in the target country noticing the operation – one reason why dubbing was convenient for the Italian Fascist regime was the “occult censorship:” by replacing the original lines with new ones it was possible to remove undesired references. So, dubbing is a film-translation practice that not only comes with the expected semantic adaptation process, but also with a heavier socio-cultural assimilation process that can be more or less forced and disruptive of the original film. In some cases, assimilation means the radical modification of the original socio-cultural context. This is often unnecessary since the film could have been perfectly understandable even without such changes. The idea behind assimilation is that the audience may enjoy the film more if they recognise familiar elements in the story. The case study presented is the Italian version of the TV series The Nanny (1993-1999), in which the Jewish characters were turned into Italian characters, with incongruous effects.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: Film and television
Social sciences > Communication and culture
Depositing User: Emilio Audissino
Date Deposited: 16 Feb 2016 15:50
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2021 07:19

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