Have you ever wondered, when watching your favourite film, how it is translated? Possibly not. For many, translation is an uncomplicated and simple process; however, contrary to appearances, to get a final product which you can admire in cinema requires a lot of effort. Such translations engage many people and consist of many stages, i.e. text modifications, neutralising grammatical or phonetic differences and finally localization.

Audio-visual translations specificity

This interpretation is something more than a regular text explanation; it is composed not only of translation of the main characters’ statements but also of adaptation of a certain content to the presented image. Audio-visual translations are qualified as games, series, movies and audiobooks. The most common techniques used are:

  • voice-over – the most mainstream technique with a great deal of popularity in Poland, enjoyed by everyone, dispassionate and deprived of emotions – the reader’s voice.
  • Dubbing – which means substitution of the original actors statements and replacing them with voices in the target language – it often occurs in tales, games, less often in movies
  • Subtitles – this way requires lots of language experience, frequently it is necessary to shorten a dialogue so as to maintain statements’ sense, and so subtitles should have an adequate length. Statistics show that approximately 30-35% of an original text is deleted from a movie.

How does the work of audio-visual translator look?

What we see and hear when looking at a screen in a screening room or on a comfy couch is a result of the audio-visual translator’s work. Specialists in this area have to use source and target language perfectly. Another requirement is cultural knowledge about countries, so that the translator can convey a statement’s sense, in other words – perfect localization. In addition, the translator is limited by the dialogue’s length during the performance – when it comes to dubbing, it is necessary to synchronise mouth movement with the expressed sentence, and subtitles should have a certain length so that they will not disturb the whole movie experience. In spite of these requirements, the most significant part is to maintain the text idiosyncrasy. It indicates that in a documentary the translator cannot use colloquial and humorous language, he or she has to stick to the text’s essentials. In contrast, in comedies or feature films there is much more freedom in relation to language usage.

Audio-visual techniques as a high level entertainment guarantor

Thanks to audio-visual translators, we are able to enjoy our favourite movies, games, series and from both a visual and audio perspective. A promising translation allows us to comprehend perfectly every spoken sentence, and express a specific reaction or emotions which enable us to empathise with the translation product.

Dear audio-visual translators, thank you for your challenging work and interdisciplinary attitude towards every project. You let us make use of the entertainment which we love so much.

(translation B.A.)

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