LINGUIST List 23.5030|
Mon Dec 03 2012
Review: Translation; Discourse Analysis: Barambones Zubiria (2012)
Editor for this issue: Monica Macaulay
From: Josep Soler-Carbonell <solerut.ee>
Subject: Mapping the Dubbing Scene
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Book announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/23/23-1993.html
AUTHOR: Josu Barambones Zubiria
TITLE: Mapping the Dubbing Scene
SERIES TITLE: Audiovisual Translation in Basque Television
SERIES TITLE: New Trends in Translation Studies, Vol. 2
PUBLISHER: Peter Lang
Josep Soler-Carbonell, Institute of Communication, Tallinn University and
Institute of Estonian and General Linguistics, University of Tartu
This monograph examines the question of audiovisual translation (AVT) in
Basque using the framework provided by Descriptive Translation Studies. It
constitutes an original endeavor particularly because its focus and the
majority of the data it uses come from animated products for children. As the
author states in the introductory section, in the global era, translation has
gained in importance and relevance, as it can help to bridge cultural and
linguistic divides, enabling larger audiences to have access to works
originally produced in other languages. Small demographic groups may find it
more difficult to make use of their own resources in order to cover all their
needs in the audiovisual realm, and therefore AVT becomes even more important
for them. In the case of animated products for children, dubbing is also a
more common feature than subtitling, as such audiences are not able to read at
the required pace. Furthermore, the Basque Country is situated in what could
be called a ‘dubbing world area’ in that France and Spain tend to resort to
this solution when importing audiovisual products.
From the outset, the author clearly sets out three main objectives: the first,
taking a macro perspective, is “to compile a catalogue of dubbed audiovisual
programs in order to gain an overall view of foreign programming on ETB” (p.
3) (Euskal Telebista, the publicly owned Basque television). The second
objective of the study, this time from a more micro point of view, is to
identify the “potential regularities and strategies followed by screen
translators” (p. 3), something that should help in identifying the translation
norms and techniques used in a translation process such as that being analyzed
here. The third and final objective is to compare and contrast the linguistic
models used in dubbed texts with those used in original productions in Basque.
This is possibly one of the most innovative features of the monograph, and the
systematic contrasting of two language models allows rich conclusions to be
The book is structured in seven main chapters preceded by a brief introductory
Chapter 1, “The Linguistic and Cultural Context”, provides a general
background on the Basque language with a focus on the sociolinguistic
situation surrounding it, the Basque education system, translation studies and
Basque language, the media, and language planning. The chapter contains some
essential information that assists greatly in comprehending the author’s
starting point. First, it is stressed that the majority of the population of
Basque-speaking areas cannot speak the language (p. 9): in total, between the
French and the Spanish territories, 953,000 people are either French or
Spanish monolinguals. In the Basque Country, this amounts to 51.5% of the
total population. By contrast, 30.1% are fluent Basque and Spanish bilinguals
and 18.3% are passive bilinguals (those who cannot speak Basque but who can
understand and read it well or very well). Furthermore, the chapter explains
that the majority of the school-age population attends schools that follow
what is known as Education Model D (all subjects are taught in Basque, except
for Spanish language), at least until the end of compulsory education.
Chapter 2, “Dubbing into Basque: A Historical Perspective”, offers an
historical account of the presence of Basque in the media since ETB was
founded in 1982. Initially, dubbing was a crucially important means of meeting
audiences’ needs, but since then, over time, the number of dubbed products has
progressively decreased. One of the striking facts that the author highlights
is that since 1986, when ETB2 was created, a diglossic situation has arisen
sprung: ETB1 remained committed to broadcasting animation series or films
dubbed in Basque, whereas ETB2 now airs mostly American series or movies
dubbed not into Basque but into Spanish. This chapter also presents the
language model used for dubbed products, which tends to follow the standard
register of the language. The author links this strategy to the fact that,
particularly in minority-language contexts, the media are often ascribed a
didactic and educational function. However, as Barambones himself notes, this
strategy is misleading, because it makes use of a standard model that belongs
to the written, rather than the spoken, domain, ultimately “rendering the
audiovisual text less expressive and less credible” (p. 43).
Chapter 3, “Descriptive Methodology Applied to the Field of Audiovisual
Translation”, provides a detailed explanation of the methodological steps
followed by the author in order to compile the corpuses of texts from which he
garnered his data. The author has clearly implemented a fine-grained
methodology in order to prove that the texts chosen for the study were not
selected merely at random. Seven selection criteria are established: the
predominance of a genre or subgenre, the origin of the audiovisual material,
the source language, marketing, different translators/adaptors and dubbing
studios, and availability. On the other hand, the original texts in Basque are
chosen according to the following elements: the predominance of a genre, the
number of repeats, awards, audience rankings, and availability.
Chapter 4, “Characterization and Translation of Animated Cartoons”, offers
further details concerning the most common features found in the world of
animated cartoons, in relation to the creative process behind both the
original version (the characterization process) and the translated and dubbed
version of it.
Chapter 5, “A Model for the Analysis of Audiovisual Texts”, presents the
methodology followed for textual analysis. Once again, the researcher follows
a number of very rigorous steps, which suggests that the study is
methodologically sound. There are four levels of analysis: the first involves
“Preliminary data”, where as much extra-textual information as possible is
collected. The second is “Macro-structural analysis”, the translation of
graphic codes (titles, intertitles and inserts) and the translation of the
musical code. “Micro-structural analysis” is the third stage, where the
lexical and the syntactic features are analyzed. Finally, the “Intrasystemic
analysis” is applied, where the phonetic, lexical, morphological and syntactic
characteristics of both the dubbed and the original audiovisual texts in
Basque are analyzed and contrasted.
Chapter 6, “Descriptive-Comparative Analysis”, is dedicated to a complete
analysis of two audiovisual texts dubbed into Basque. The texts chosen for
this study are those that have already been selected following the steps
explained in Chapter 3, namely one episode of each of two series, ''Totally
Spies'' and ''Braceface'' (in Basque, ''Berediziko espioak'' and ''Burdin
aho'' respectively). The three first levels of analysis as explained in the
previous chapter are applied to both texts. The fourth, ‘Intersystemic
Analysis’, is dealt with separately in the next chapter.
Chapter 7, “Intersystemic Analysis”, examines and contrasts the different
models of the Basque language in the texts studied by the author: the dubbed
ones (stemming from a source text originally in another language) and the
original ones (from productions created directly in Basque). The findings
indicate that the dubbed versions contain a higher degree of homogeneity,
particularly at the lexical and morphosyntactic levels, with forms closer to
the standard register of the language, whereas the texts from the original
version make use of forms and expressions that are much closer to the
characteristics of the oral and colloquial language.
Finally, Chapter 8 presents the conclusions of the study. Here, the author
returns to the main objectives that he had set down in the introduction and
provides a recapitulation of the results. Clearly, the data compiled in this
study allow the dubbing scene and audiovisual translation into Basque to be
accurately mapped. Secondly, the author’s analysis of dubbed texts provides a
description of the language model used in these texts, highlighting the fact
that translators struggle between two poles: adequacy and acceptability
(veracity). Finally, the contrast between dubbed and original texts brings a
further important nuance: original texts tend to make use of forms which are
closer to the oral register of the language, whereas dubbed versions are more
homogeneous and employ forms more typical of the standard language.
One of the foremost strengths of the monograph under review is the
methodological aspect. The author is consistently clear and emphatic about the
steps taken for data collection and analysis. This means that the results are
sound and trustworthy, and, all in all, the reader is left with the impression
that this is a coherent study, even though its conclusions may not be
groundbreaking. Moreover, in his introduction, the author is explicit about
the objectives he sets out to achieve in his research, and then returns to
them in the conclusion, summarizing the most relevant findings stemming from
As far as the results and main outcomes of the study are concerned, one of the
most significant conclusions derives from the section on ‘intrasystemic
analysis’, i.e. from comparing and contrasting dubbed texts in Basque with the
original works produced in this language. The dubbed texts tend to make more
use of forms belonging to the standard language, closer to the written
register, whereas the original texts use forms which are more typically oral
and colloquial. As intimated above, this might not be a groundbreaking
finding, as a smaller-scale study led by Vila i Moreno (Vila i Moreno et al.
2007) already detected the ‘homogenizing’ effect of dubbed versions and the
extensive use of standard-variety forms in the dubbings of American animated
films into Catalan and Castilian. The cited study also mentioned that locally
produced films and TV series contained a higher degree of language varieties
and registers than dubbed products, even though no data from such local films
or series were presented. Therefore, Barambones’ study provides a strong,
neatly explained and detailed methodological framework to adopt when
conducting such audiovisual research and analysis.
On the weaker side of the monograph, a few key references are missing.
Although it appears that the author centers his study on the general field of
Translation Studies and, more specifically, AVT, given that the topic of his
analysis is so closely related to key areas of sociolinguistics, such
omissions should not have occurred. First of all, and most significantly, when
discussing the language models and particularly that of cartoons and animated
movies, there is virtually no reference to Lippi-Green’s (1997) work. Although
it is acknowledged that language plays an essential role in shaping the
characters’ personalities, it is important to recognize that such linguistic
characterization is not carried out at random. Language attitudes and
ideologies constitute an important element in that sense, and they have
consequences that the analyst should not overlook.
Moreover, as seen previously, the question of the standard language is very
relevant throughout the book. However, there is no reference to authors who
have devoted a substantial part of their work to analyzing the effects of
standardization and language ideology (these include Milroy and Milroy 1999;
Milroy 2001) or, more broadly, language ideology (including Schieffelin and
Woolard 1994; Schieffelin, Woolard and Kroskrity 1998). The question of
language ideology is linked to the perceived lack of registers that Basque
translators and dubbers may encounter, which is not exclusive to the Basque
case, but shared with many other minority or minoritized language situations.
In the Catalan context, Frekko (2009) finds support for this perceived lack of
registers from ethnographically collected data: interviews with Catalan
language professionals and observations of the work of a language editor at
the recording sessions of a Catalan television series.
This book constitutes a relevant contribution to the field of AVT, provides a
very useful model that can be adopted by researchers in future studies in this
field, and offers a detailed analysis of audiovisual translation in Basque.
The work could have been enriched with the references cited above, but it
still represents a substantial and positive contribution to Translation
Studies. It will therefore make useful and insightful reading for students in
this field. It is likely to prove particularly helpful at the undergraduate
level, but may also be fruitfully exploited for the purposes of postgraduate
study or indeed by anyone with an interest in Basque language and culture.
Frekko, Susan. 2009. Normal in Catalonia: Standard language, enregisterment
and the imagination of a national public. Language in Society 38(1), 71-93.
Lippi-Green, Rosina. 1997. English with an accent: Language, Ideology and
Discrimination in the United States. London: Routledge.
Milroy, James. 2001. Language ideologies and the consequences of
standardization. Journal of Sociolinguistics 5(4), 530-555.
Milroy, James & Lesley Milroy. 1999. Authority in language: Investigating
standard English (3rd edn.). London: Routledge.
Schieffelin, Bambi & Kathryn Woolard. 1994. Language ideology. Annual Review
of Anthropology 23, 55-82.
Schieffelin, Bambi, Kathryn Woolard & Paul Kroskrity. 1998. Language ideology:
Practice and Theory. New York: Oxford University Press.
Vila i Moreno, Francesc Xavier, Sarah Cassel, Núria Busquet Isart, Joan-Pau
Callejón i Mateu, Toni Mercadal Moll, Josep Soler Carbonell. 2007. Sense
accents? Les contradiccions de l’estàndard oral en els doblatges catalans de
pel·lícules d’animació. Revista de Llengua i Dret 47, 387-413.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Josep Soler-Carbonell obtained his Ph.D. in Linguistics and Communication at
the University of Barcelona (2010) with a contrastive analysis of the
sociolinguistic situation in Estonia and Catalonia from the point of view of
speakers’ language ideologies. His main research interests gravitate around
the broad areas of sociolinguistics and language anthropology, language
ideologies, language and identity, language and media, and inter-cultural and
inter-group communication. He now works as a postdoctoral research fellow at
the University of Tartu and as an Associate Professor at the Institute of
Communication, Tallinn University.
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