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LINGUIST List 16.1570

Tue May 17 2005

Diss: Translation: Schröter: 'Shun the Pun ...'

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        1.    Thorsten Schröter, Shun the Pun, Rescue the Rhyme? The Dubbing and Subtitling of Language-Play in Film

Message 1: Shun the Pun, Rescue the Rhyme? The Dubbing and Subtitling of Language-Play in Film
Date: 17-May-2005
From: Thorsten Schröter <thorsten.schroterkau.se>
Subject: Shun the Pun, Rescue the Rhyme? The Dubbing and Subtitling of Language-Play in Film

Institution: Karlstad University
Program: English linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2005

Author: Thorsten Schröter

Dissertation Title: Shun the Pun, Rescue the Rhyme? The Dubbing and Subtitling of Language-Play in Film

Linguistic Field(s): Translation

Dissertation Director:
Henrik Gottlieb
Moira Linnarud

Dissertation Abstract:

Language-play can briefly be described as the wilful manipulation of the
peculiarities of a linguistic system in a way that draws attention to these
peculiarities themselves, thereby causing a communicative and cognitive
effect that goes beyond the conveyance of propositional meaning. Among the
various phenomena answering this description are the different kinds of
puns, but also more strictly form-based manipulations such as rhymes and
alliteration, in addition to a host of other, sometimes even fuzzier,

Due to its unusual nature, and especially its frequently strong dependence
on the idiosyncrasies of a particular language, language-play can generally
be assumed to constitute a significant challenge in a translation context.
Furthermore, given its non-negligible effects, the translator is not free
to simply ignore the language-play (provided it has been recognized as such
in the first place) without having taken an active stance on its treatment.
However, the difficulties in finding a suitable target-language solution
are possibly exacerbated if the source text is a complex multimedia product
such as a film, the translation of which, normally in the form of dubbing
or subtitling, is subject to additional constraints.

In view of these intricacies, it has been the aim of this study to analyze
and measure how language-play in film has actually been treated in
authentic dubbing and subtitle versions. As a prerequisite, the concept of
language-play has been elaborated on, and more than a dozen subcategories
have been described, developed, and employed. For the purpose of carrying
out a meaningful analysis of the dubbing and subtitling of language-play, a
corpus has been compiled, comprising 18 English-language family films and
99 of their various German, Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish target versions,
most on DVD, and yielding nearly 800 source-text instances of language-play
and thousands of translation solutions.

The results indicate that especially two sets of factors, among the many
that are likely to influence a translation, play a prominent role: the type
of the language-play, and the identity and working conditions of the
translator. By contrast, the mode of translation (dubbing vs. subtitling),
the target language, or the general properties of the films, could not be
shown to have a sizeable impact.

Keywords: family films, screen translation, dubbing, subtitling,
compensation, humour, language-play, wordplay, puns, metaphors, similes,
idioms, modified expressions, play with foreign words, nonce formations,
play with grammar, rhymes, half-rhymes, alliteration, repetition.

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