Audiovisual Translation Essay

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This chapter discusses audiovisual translation and translating song lyrics. The first section consists of general information about audiovisual translation, subtitling and dubbing as well as animation translation. I will also discuss the restrictions and challenges of audiovisual translation. The third part introduces different translation strategies and theories associated with song lyrics.

3.1 Audiovisual translation

Audiovisual translation is used in television and movie industry to translate the spoken word to back up the image shown on the screen. Audiovisual translation consists of several ways of translating methods, of which the main methods are subtitling, dubbing and voice-over.
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Transforming the song text into subtitles has the same restrictions as other audio-visual translations; it needs to fit the time frame and the image on the screen. In order to the subtitles to work as song lyrics, they also need to fit the original music. Dubbing has the same restrictions as subtitles, but here also lip-sync and the gestures of the character on the screen needs to be taken into account. The translated voice-track needs to inform the viewer the meaning of the original voice-track while generating text that suits the lip-form of the character as well as the original music. According to Johan Franzon (2001: 33-34) the translator needs to consider more than only the words of the song when translating song lyrics. The translation is affected by the performance, the composed music and its genre as well as the cultural aspects and even viewer expectations. In addition, the idea of the song is important - ‘the hook’ and how it makes the song touch, entertain and stand out for the listener. In Franzons’ opinion songs are related to the field of poetry, and thus translating song lyrics shares the same challenges that poetry translation has. Like poetry, song lyrics cannot be translated directly word-for-word, but the text needs to be imaginatively recreated to resemble the original text. These kinds of translations are called pseudotranslations. (Franzon 2001:
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