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Este artigo apresenta um conjunto possível de padrões de qualidade na Tradução Audiovisual, especialmente na tradução para a dublagem. Esses padrões são motivados pela presença implícita de um espectador ideal ou espectador no polissistema alvo. O receptor da tradução desempenha um papel de receptor ativo em potencial que condiciona a forma e as convenções do produto alvo. Os padrões de qualidade são então postulados com o público em mente e de acordo com alguns aspectos convencionais da dublagem. Os padrões de qualidade discutidos aqui representam os alvos e objetivos desejáveis de ambos o tradutor e o roteirista, bem como do diretor de dublagem, dos atores e atrizes de dublagem e do engenheiro de som.
Quality standards in dubbing: a proposal
Frederic Chaume Varela
Universitat Jaume I
Abstract: This paper presents a possible set of quality standards in Audiovisual Translation,
especially in translation for dubbing. These standards are motivated by the implicit presence of an ideal
viewer or spectator in the target polysystem. The receiver of the translations plays a potential role of
active addressee who conditions the form and conventions of the target product. Quality standards are
then postulated with the audience in mind and according to some conventional dubbing aspects. The
quality standards dealt with here represent the desirable aims and objectives of both the translator and
the dialogue writer, as well as the dubbing director, the dubbing actors and actresses and the sound
Key words: audience, quality standards, synchronization, lip-sync, realistic and credible dialogs,
coherence, fidelity, dramatic performance, acceptability, adequacy, norm.
1. The pact with the viewer
In La estética de la creación verbal [English translation (partial): "Speech Genres
and Other Late Essays" (1986)], Bakhtin (1982:334) wrote that life is by its very nature
dialogical, that living means entering into dialogue with the other, questioning,
listening, responding, agreeing, dissenting, etc. Dialogical relations are therefore present
in all human activity, and may even be said to give these activities their raison d’être.
All interaction between a text and its receiver is directed towards a response from
the latter. From his or her dialogical horizon, the receiver confers meaning and
significance on the work of art. The recognition of this dialogical inclusion of the reader
also assumes an awareness of the way in which texts appeal to each other; move us to
identify ourselves and to adopt certain identities.
Although Bakhtin understands dialogue as an open space, this does not imply that it
is free of conflicts or that it lacks a set of rules. In the same line of argument, the
Aesthetics of Reception is concerned with the study of which components of literary
work emerge as dominant as a result of a prevailing code in a given moment, and which
components appear sketchy or even completely hidden.
In any text that is subject to certain rules or conventions of genre in a specific
culture and time, the absence of an expected element (the lack of synchronization in
dubbed films or television series in a tradition in which synchrony is normative or
regulated, for instance), may be received by the reader as a negative mechanism.
Lotman (1982: 125) refers to this concept with the notion of minus-mechanism,
although particularly in relation to literary texts (for example the absence of rhyme in a
genre that would conventionally have this stylistic feature). In the same way, the macro-
genre of audiovisual texts also canonically presents a specific configuration. Translated
audiovisual genres (films, television series, cartoons and documentaries in the Spanish
case) should, by convention, present certain specific characteristics that contribute to
their recognition by the audience, to the way they are consumed and thus their
foreseeable success. Breaks with conventions or with the canon and the absence of
expected elements do not necessarily lead to a breakdown in communication; they may
represent an innovation in the genre that might bring success or failure, depending on
the historical conditions affecting the audience. However, these ruptures have certain
limits that we will attempt to define in this paper.
From the perspective of synchrony, we will examine now which elements of
dubbed fictional works dominate in the Spanish audiovisual panorama of the early 21st
We can pose certain questions from the receiver’s point of view: What does the
audience expect from a translated audiovisual product? What type of dischrony (Fodor,
1976: 80) or lack of synchrony is most negatively evaluated and tolerated by the
audience (minus-mechanisms)? What will the viewer overlook? What most stands in the
way of an accurate reception of the message by the audience? The answers to these
questions will inform the translator about the prevailing norms in audiovisual
translation, or even about his or her priorities when making a translation. Once the
norms have been identified, they must then be evaluated to verify whether they meet the
quality standards, or simply conform to roughly consolidated historical conventions.
Whatever the case, in this paper we are dealing with an ideal viewer, an abstraction that
simplifies our analysis, although future research should focus on different spectator
groups, as suggested by Mayoral (2001) when he refers to the factors that an audience
analysis should take into account: its heterogeneity, the passing of time, etc.
Within the field of dubbing, these priorities can be grouped into various broad
areas: a) respect for mouth articulation and body movements, and especially for the
duration of the original actor’s utterances; in other words, compliance with
synchronization norms (Chaume, 2004a);
b) the writing of credible and realistic dialogues, according to the oral registers
of the target language; this involves going slightly beyond the correct
expression of the source content in the target language, something which is
also a desirable general objective in any translation (such as, for example,
avoiding structural and lexical calques in Spanish when translating from
c) coherence between what is heard and what is seen, i.e., between words and
images, and likewise, the internal coherence of the plot, on the one hand, and
dialogue cohesion, on the other;
d) fidelity to the source text (overlooked by some academic circles today),
understood as fidelity to content, form, function, source text effect, or all or
any one of the aforementioned, etc., depending on the job in hand;
e) other factors fall beyond the control of the translator, the dialogue writer and
even the dubbing director. These include technical conventions: in dubbing
(except in the case of voice-overs) the original version must never be heard,
not even in the case of a specific paralinguistic feature. The recording
volume and voice quality must also be appropriate, i.e., what has become
conventional over the years: a fairly high volume and clear voices with tense
articulation, together with an absence of noise and interferences in the final
recording, so that the sound that reaches the spectator is as clear as possible.
In any case, these conventions depend on the sound technician and are
beyond the scope of the translator, although as conventions, they constitute
one more standard of quality in what is understood as good dubbing;
f) the final group includes the performance and dramatization of the dialogues,
which is also beyond the control of the translator and the dialogue writer,
although the dubbing director and the actors have a part to play. By
convention, dubbing actors are required to perform in such a way that it does
not sound either faked (overacted) or monotonous.
The absence of these elements, because they are foreseeable and conventionalized,
puts the accurate transmission of the message at risk, both in terms of information and
aesthetics. Indeed, the ultimate aim of dubbing is to create a believable final product
that seems real, that tricks us as spectators into thinking we are witnessing a domestic
production, with easily recognised characters and realistic voices.
Ávila also highlights some of the same quality standards. He adds that the viewer
expects the dubbed translation to keep to the original (I believe this to be even more
patent in the case of subtitling, especially amongst viewers who are familiar with the
source language), that the same voices should not be over-used, and that good use
should be made of technical resources (which, as previously mentioned, fall outside the
translator’s brief):
En este sentido, el gran público reconoce la mediocridad por dos vías: una
deficiente sincronización y una pésima interpretación. Sin embrago, pueden
achacarse otros motivos que, en muchos casos, escapan a la percepción del
espectador. Una traducción que no se atenga al original o un mediocre ajuste que
atente contra la normativa del lenguaje estándar y audiovisual pueden transmitir
una visión errónea del filme que, sin duda, horrorizará a los guionistas originales o
a aquellos que decidan comparar la versión doblada con la original. Una excesiva
reutilización de voces en distintos papeles de la misma película conduce a un
empobrecimiento de su calidad, aunque abarate costes. Por supuesto, el inoportuno
uso de los recursos técnicos puede igualmente hacer fracasar la idea de un buen
doblaje. (Ávila, 1997: 39-40, my underlining)
2. The status of synchrony
With regard to the first section, respect for mouth articulation (phonetic or lip-
sync), body movements (kinetic synchrony) and the duration of the translation to match
the lines spoken by the screen actors (isochrony), constitute one of the cornerstones of
dubbing (Chaume, 2003 and 2004a). The greatest challenge facing the translator is not
the stringent matching of bilabial or labiodental consonants, or of open vowels –this is
only the case with close-ups and extreme close-ups, and detailed lip shots. Nevertheless,
when the translator or dialogue writer does not comply with lip-sync or kinetic
synchrony in these shots, the result is a loss of credibility and the consequent negative
appraisal by the audience:
En un doblaje cinematográfico, en cambio, el doblador habla sincronizadamente
con el personaje e incluso con el movimiento de sus labios. Lo que se entiende por
un buen doblaje hace desaparecer toda diferencia entre personaje, protagonista y
doblador. Ante el público se quiere confundir toda frontera. La marca de un buen
doblaje es la desaparición de la frontera. Se aspira a la verosimilitud, al “make
believe” total. (Kahane, 1990-91: 116)
Gestures and facial expressions accompanying the dialogues represent one of the
most outstanding intercultural differences. In dubbing, the spoken text and the
suprasegmental features, i.e., the linguistic and paralinguistic codes are replaced by
other dialogues and suprasegmental features in the target language. However, this is not
the case with facial and body gestures. This has led some actors to speak of a
communicative noise caused by the coexistence of two different cultural systems:
Noise produced by the coexistence of different cultural systems. This is illustrated
by the appearance on screen of scenes of Moscow with actors speaking Spanish, or
by the assignation in the dubbing of film of varieties of language peculiar to Spain
to characters whom the image reveals as non-Spanish [...] (Mayoral, Kelly and
Gallardo, 1988: 362)
Obviously, Anglo-Saxon facial expressivity does not coincide with that of the
Mediterranean, neither quantitatively nor qualitatively. The same can be said about
Latin gesticulation compared with the almost inexistent hand and arm gesticulation in
Northern Europe. Yet there is a tacit agreement between the sender and the receiver: the
audience knows perfectly well that it is watching a film, and as such, there will always
be a certain amount of dischrony (Fodor, 1976) or lack of synchrony in numerous
aspects (lip-sync, kinetic synchronization, isochrony). These dyschronies, however, will
not totally invalidate the overall understanding of the product or its quality. This tacit
agreement allows for and tolerates a certain amount of dischrony or communicative
noise (Mayoral, Kelly and Gallardo, 1988) up to a point. It would therefore be useful to
define these limits or thresholds of what is permitted, in order to guide the translator on
the tolerance of the target culture to which his or her product is addressed; in other
words, to define the norms of translation in this field that prevail in the target culture.
The tacit agreement referred to is based on the fact that the spectator has been
conditioned to accept that he or she is watching a film and that in general, he or she will
be listening to voices in stereo and with a clarity alien to real life situations. Even when
characters walk off towards the horizon, we can still hear their voice perfectly and
understand what they say. We may be shown a completely dark room, for instance, but
the cinematographic illusion has reached the point where, to a great extent, it is accepted
that we are able to distinguish the facial features of the characters in the room, and even
see their gestures. When we go into the cinema, we know that what we are going to see
is not exactly real, but rather the language of film, with its grammatical rules and its
own particular logic:
The audience often retreats into the movie house for exactly the purpose of
escaping reality and it would be a perhaps misdirected attempt at realism to make
them strain to hear passages that would be inaudible in real life situations. Even
children exposed to film and television very quickly come to understand this
distortion of reality and are not disconcerted by it. This is, of course, a bona fide
tool of film-making and, as such, a valid technique. Yet, when perspectives and
relations, either acoustic, optical, temporal or otherwise, cross the threshold of even
this film credibility, the effect will suffer. (Whitman, 1992: 79)
An empirical study should be undertaken to examine audience response with
respect to how it receives a series of films with a varying degree of synchronization
according to the three types of synchrony aforementioned (labial, kinetic and
isochrony). Meanwhile, audiovisual translation practice leads us to the hypothesis that,
of the three dubbing synchronies, lip-sync does not come top in the translator’s list of
priorities. Within the profession, isochrony is usually respected to a great extent, which
is not the case with lip-sync, even less as far as kinetic synchrony is concerned. The
audience tends to be very critical of films in which the right isochrony is not observed.
Yet lip-sync, given the scarcity of extreme close-ups and detailed lip shots in films, and
particularly kinetic synchrony, are not so highly respected as they are not placed at the
top of the hierarchy of norms that make up the tacit agreement between the sender and
the receiver referred to above.
Thus, we could say that the threshold of permissiveness is crossed when the length
of the translation does not respect the duration of the lines spoken by the screen actor,
and in extreme close-ups and detailed lip shots, when lip-sync is not respected.
However, other lip and kinetic synchronies do not break this tacit agreement, despite
Fodor’s insistence in his historic pioneering 1976 study. In the absence of empirical
studies on reception (with the exception, in Spain, of Fuentes, 2001), the words of the
professional translators and dialogue writers of El País serve to illustrate this point:
“–Ese Calla d'una volta!, debe quedar algo más corto y mucho más rabioso”,
apunta Casanova, mientras el técnico de sonido deja de fondo la voz susurrante de
Leonard Cohen [...] (C. Navarro, 6-VII-1998)
Shorter, because in isochronic terms, the English imperative interjection would
surely have been uttered in no more than two or three syllables (six in the Catalan
example). The journalist continues with her isochrony-based argument:
[...] en valenciano, las frases son más largas que en inglés y en una película como
ésta se puede suprimir algún taco si con ello se consigue que todo el texto encaje en
la boca del actor. Los ajustes finales los realizará el adaptador (en este caso, Àngels
Martí), quien ajustará al máximo el texto, de forma que el actor no hable cuando en
pantalla aparezca una boca cerrada. (C. Navarro, 6-VII-1998, my underlining)
It would therefore seem that of the three synchronies mentioned, the overall norm is
to respect isochrony, over and above the other synchronies.
3. Credible dialogues: adapting to a prefabricated oral register
Translation oscillates between two poles: its adequacy to the source text and its
acceptability in the target culture. In the case of translation for dubbing, another
cornerstone for good dubbing quality is that the target language sounds realistic,
credible, and plausible; i.e., it does not take us away from the storyline. Put another
way, it must be acceptable according to the canonical standards of an audiovisual text
translated into the target language. The second threat to the breakdown of the tacit
agreement between spectator and film mentioned in the previous section must be
overcome by achieving an oral register that can be defined as false spontaneous. And
not only in dubbing and subtitling; one of the most widespread criticisms of the work of
Spanish film director José Luis Garci is the artificiality of the dialogues in his movies.
Nonetheless, it is quite true that academics and linguists had neglected oral register
until recent decades. Perhaps for this reason, television companies have found
themselves in a situation where they are publishing guidelines for translators, but also
for newsreaders and scriptwriters. These guidelines or stylesheets deal with how to
achieve an acceptable non-spontaneous oral register, in order that previous elaborated
written language (that from the script) should sound as though it have not in fact been
written. Amongst these, it is noteworthy the dubbing and subtitling guidelines collected
by Dries (1995). In the field of dubbing, in Spain, the following are worth highlighting:
the Manual de Estilo de RTVE (RTVE Style Manual), written by Salvador Mendieta in
1993, and the more thorough Criteris lingüístics sobre traducció i doblatge (Linguistic
Criteria for Translation and Dubbing), published by Televisió de Catalunya in 1997. In
a synthesized effort, the Catalan corporation summarises what is meant by oral register
in audiovisual media:
La ficció s'acosta al màxim al llenguatge col·loquial, que correspon pròpiament al
mode oral espontani. Però l'espontaneïtat desapareix quan el text s'ha pensat
prèviament. Així doncs, els diàlegs de l'obra audiovisual recullen, però de forma
controlada, gairebé totes les característiques del col·loquial [...] L'estructura
sintàctica sí que prefereix frases curtes i juxtaposades i només aplica molt
restrictivament les subordinades. Utilitza molt poc la construcció passiva i pot
deixar frases inacabades. L'ordre dels elements de l'oració no és sempre el
gramatical sinó que sovint situa en primer lloc l'element que interessa remarcar i hi
subordina la resta (A mi que no em busquin / La pistola, ja la tens?). L'abundància
d'informació contextual afavoreix les el·lipsis i augmenta la freqüència d'ús
d'elements referencials. Per això els pronoms febles s'hi presenten en tota la seva
complexitat i s'ha de posar atenció en els adverbis de localització espacial i
temporal, com també en la distinció de temps en el verb. El fet més significatiu és
l'existència d'estructures conversacionals estereotipades que corresponen a
situacions comunicatives concretes: petició (què li faria res...?), afirmació (Ja t'ho
pots ben creure...!), disculpa (Em sap greu que...), aprovació (I tant que sí). Totes
les llengües disposen d'un repertori ric i genuí d'aquestes estructures que
contribueixen decisivament a donar fluïdesa i naturalitat als diàlegs.
La modalitat oral té també procediments expressius propis: expressions-crossa
(Vull dir), falques conversacionals (Vejam / Eh que no?), onomatopeies,
interjeccions, redundàncies pronominals (És un poble on hi plou molt), jocs de
paraules i frases fetes. La pronunciació és més relaxada i practica algunes
reduccions (per'quí, aneu's-en, 'nem! imperatiu) i suports vocàlics (ajupe't).
El grau de formalitat és divers però sol ser baix. Això implica que el lèxic i la
fraseologia adequades varien considerablement segons quin sigui el registre donat.
(Televisió de Catalunya, 1997: 12-14, my underlining)
In reference to subtitling, Gottlieb had also put forward some of the factors
mentioned by Televisió de Catalunya:
In spontaneous speech (which may be 'artificial', as in feature films) the subtitler
will often find:
3) Pauses, false starts, self-corrections and interruptions.
4) Unfinished sentences and 'grammatically unacceptable' constructions.
5) Slips-of-the-tongue, self contradictions, ambiguities and nonsense.
6) Overlapping speech, a feature very difficult to render in writing. (Gottlieb,
1997: 112)
The synthesis made by the linguistic advisors of the Catalan corporation
summarises what is understood by false oral register in television and cinema; in short,
what norms prevail in the production of credible life-like dialogues in the target culture,
in this case Catalan, but needless to say, in all other target cultures too. Once again, by
not respecting the guidelines that shape the oral register in the target culture, the
threshold of permissiveness is crossed, the norm is violated, and the previously
mentioned tacit agreement is ignored. Whitman also views the issue in the same way
when she refers to an experiment conducted by Herbst on the recognition of oral
Artificiality is one of the main faults pilloried in denouncements of dubbed
versions: the audience can hear that it is not an original. Dubbed language simply
does not correspond to the way normal people talk. Herbst conducted an
experiment in which he presented students with original and dubbed texts. The
revealing findings indicated that the latter were clearly recognizable as such. No
wonder the dubbing actors themselves take the brunt of criticism. (Whitman,
1992: 118)
Whatever the case, here we are dealing with a prefabricated, artificial, non-
spontaneous oral register; in other words, one which does not exactly imitate the
spontaneous oral register, but echoes many of its characteristics (Chaume, 2004b:
Caillé had already taken this line, particularly considering the responsibility of the
translator, who, if s/he did not produce a realistic oral text, later forced the actors into a
false performance:
L'acteur, le comédien, ne peut donner sa mesure et avant tout 'jouer juste', que si le
texte qu'il a à interpréter est lui-même naturel. (Caillé, 1960: 107)
For Caillé, above all else, a realistic text in the right non-spontaneous oral register
is essential, once again more so than lip-sync:
Pourvu qu'une phrase soit au rythme, qu'elle traduise l'original avec toute sa charge
de sensibilité, de colère ou de tendresse, qu'elle garde la saveur, il n'est pas
nécessaire, sauf dans certains cas de très gros plan, que toutes les labiales soient en
place. [...] Si les voix des comédiens sont justes, si le texte doublé est juste, émeut
ou divertit, la partie est gagnée. (Caillé, 1960: 107)
Although not all authors agree (Fodor, 1976; Kahane, 1990-91), it would appear
that most publications on the issue of dubbing confer greater importance to realistic
dialogue than to good lip-sync. If the gestures, the intonation and the dialogues are
credible and natural, the audience will be more tolerant of any unsynchronized lip
movements that may appear in the dubbing. Whitman sums this up in three sentences:
As long as certain tolerance threshold is not overstepped in any of the different
types, the illusion of authenticity can be successfully established. [...] Most
researchers and professional dubbers alike lend the greatest priority to a believable,
convincing dialogue. [...] What matters is the impression, the credibility of the
artistic word viewed as an integral whole. Ultimately, Caillé claims, cinema is a
factory of illusions. Dubbing attempts to give the illusion of an illusion. (Whitman,
1992: 54-55)
Achieving realistic dialogues also involves respecting certain more microtextual
norms. In one of the most systematic studies on dubbing, Goris (1993) outlines his
doctoral thesis, based on field work carried out on the translation norms for dubbing in
France. Following an analysis of various North American films dubbed into French,
Goris (1993: 169-190) discovers that during the translation process, substandard
fragments of the original text tend to be standardized and culturally adapted (from the
conversion of measurements into the decimal system to the adopting of the French
equivalent of foreign place names, and the use of synchrony as a primary strategy for
naturalization). He also reveals the tendency to explain any ambiguous fragments of the
original text, in order to produce a uniform, easily understood text that comes close to
the receiver culture. The norms identified by Goris are essentially repeated in the
Spanish dubbing industry, as shown in the work of Ballester (2001) or Martí Ferriol
4. Cohesion and coherence in the target text
There is no point in pursuing further the fact that the target text should be coherent
not only from the semantic, but also from the iconographic point of view. By
maintaining the network of conceptual relations underlying discourse, we obtain a
double guarantee of fidelity to the content of the source text, and of an overall
understanding of the target text. Subtitles or dubbed dialogues may be incoherent not
only from a linguistic or semantic perspective, but also from an iconic point of view. It
is surprising to see how even today, there are still international projects, such as the
MUSA Project, the main attraction at the latest Languages and the Media congress held
in Berlin in November 2004, which set out to translate film dialogues using automatic
translation software. These dialogues are previously transcribed using a voice
recognition system. The programme’s creators acknowledge, without a hint of
embarrassment, that the automatic translation programme does not take the image into
account, and translates the transcribed dialogues without any concern for the relations of
coherence and cohesion between dialogue and image.
The work of Remael (2000), Díaz Cintas (2003), and Chaume (2004b) presents
numerous situations in which the preservation of this coherence is threatened by the
restrictions at work in dubbing and subtitling. The translator takes the image into
account not only as an analogous component that constrains the translation process, but
also as an aid to resolving these very restrictions (Martínez Sierra, 2004).
Adapting to the target language and culture goes through the process of producing a
target text that is cohesive not only linguistically, but also semiotically (Chaume, 2001).
Reduction in subtitling and synchronization in dubbing may force the translator to
compromise the degree of cohesion in the target text. Hatim and Mason (1997: 78-96)
note that in audiovisual translation interpersonal meaning is usually lost, pragmatic
features that contain certain discursive elements, most of them semantically empty, are
lost in translation. In the same way, constraints on dubbing and subtitling at times
involve sacrificing the grammatical correctness of target text dialogues, which may
sound somewhat strange to the receiver. Dubbing directors often insist that the target
text be well written and easily understood, without complications or ambiguities. To a
certain extent, we are dealing with the same norm of explicitation put forward by Goris
in his study (1993): an attempt to make the target text even more cohesive than the
source text, by removing ambiguity and explaining any obscure or difficult to
understand fragments in the source text.
5. Fidelity to the source text
Another of the quality standards denoting good dubbing or subtitling is the
faithfulness of the target text to the source text. The concept of fidelity has a long
tradition in translation theory (Hurtado, 1990; Munday, 2001). However, it would
appear that the shift in interest from the source text to the target culture as a reference
point to assess translation has meant that the notion of fidelity has lost ground in the
theoretical panorama of the discipline, or rather, it is understood as fidelity to the norms
governing the target system. Whatever the meaning we want to give it, what remains
clear is that the viewer expects to see the same film that the audience saw in the source
language; in other words, that the true story be told in terms of content, and on most
occasions, of form, function and effect. Today’s audience will not tolerate phenomena
such as political, religious or sexual censorship, which were, lamentably, almost par for
the course during Spain’s fascist dictatorship.
Interestingly, thresholds of permissiveness can once again be seen in certain
settings, which we would consider intolerable in others. While the spectator would not
consent to changes in the plot and content of an audiovisual work (as with the
astounding case of Mogambo, incredibly censored in Spain fifty years ago, fortunately
now retranslated), changes in other areas would be tolerated. These include acceptance
of linguistic censorship and self-censorship –practised to a greater or lesser extent by
most television channels and dubbing and subtitling studios, as well as by translators
themselves–, mismatched registers, translations that, because of the inclusion of lexical
and structural calques from the source language, sound nowhere near idiomatic –
particularly overbearing in productions aimed at the adolescent market–, the astonishing
changes to some film titles, and even the semiotic distortions provoked by the use in the
translation of certain characteristic features of the target culture (over adaptation) in a
typically foreign atmosphere and place (in Spain, the cases of Sabrina, or The Prince of
Bel-Air). It therefore remains to define which thresholds of permissiveness are tolerated
by the audience and which are not. Here perhaps, the reviled concept of audiovisual
genre has its raison d’être and will be seen as a useful parameter in defining this
threshold: certain audiovisual genres allow what would never be acceptable in others.
6. Overacting and underacting
Overacting is without a doubt one of the reasons that also cause the spectator to
cross this tolerance threshold we refer to in this paper. Dubbing actors, in their
enthusiasm to dramatize the target text dialogues, or perhaps also because of their
origins and training in the theatre, emphasize intonations and pronunciations to such an
extent that if we hear a conversation from any big screen or television film, without
knowing where the sound is coming from, we immediately know that they are cinema
or television dialogues, and not real conversation. Whitman explains:
[...] role interpretations are overdone, over dramatic, overladen with emotion. The
voices sound phony and theatrical and out of keeping with body expression.
Everyday conversations are enacted as if they were dealing with tragic deaths of
family members and the outbreak of atomic wars. People just do not speak like
dubbers seem to imagine they do. Whether aimed at over- or underacting, the
criticism is often justified. (Whitman, 1992: 47, my underlining)
The Spanish case tends more towards overacting, which is particularly evident in
home produced Spanish series, although underacting can also be found in the dubbing
of certain films. The initial rejection by the public of Canal 9 Televisió Valenciana
(Valencian regional channel) during its first year of broadcasting was due, amongst
other things, to the overacting with which the actors, then novices, interpreted the actors
and actresses in the original version. Whatever the case, the dramatization of the
dialogues does not fall within the translator’s responsibilities, although s/he may make
an adequate performance more easily achievable by employing a realistic oral register in
the dialogues.
7. The sound technician: the final step to achieving a realistic effect
As we have already mentioned, the recording and mixing of the translated
dialogues put down by the dubbing actors and actresses also seeks to achieve a realistic
effect and to fulfil the technical and acoustic conventions that characterize the activity
of dubbing in Spain. This means that dialogues from the original version must never be
heard (when this happens, the spectator notices and “loses track” of the film); in a
voice-over, we do expect to hear the source text although this should never be louder
than the target version; dialogues are recorded in soundproof studios (as with the source
text dialogues, in a process known as post-synchronization), so their acoustic quality is
extremely good and enables the dialogues to be appropriately received; the volume of
the voices is also higher than normal volume, to facilitate greater comprehension;
certain sound effects such as reverberation are used in cases in which the characters
have their backs to the camera or are at a distance, to create the effect of a slight echo
etc. Everything is designed to create a realistic effect and is added to the standards for
good translation and good dialogue writing expounded above. The translator can do
very little to help in this field, although if s/he works on the text synchrony and dialogue
wrtiting, symbols or comments can be added that will help the technician to employ the
right sound effects at the right moment (BC to indicate that the character has his back to
the camera, FC for far from the camera, etc.)
Within Spain, many voices have called for greater attention to be given to the role
of the receiver in audiovisual translation (Fuentes, 2001; Mayoral, 2001, Bartrina,
2004). Díaz Cintas (2003), for example, devoted the whole of his excellent
comprehensive manual on subtitling to a proposal for quality standards in that field of
audiovisual translation, taking as his starting point respect for an ideal receiver. The
ESIST is also working extensively on proposals for a normative set of quality standards
for subtitling. We will most likely have to continue defining which fields of the target
text should be adequated to the source text, and which other fields should be adjusted to
the norms of the target system. Reception theory, the aesthetics of reception, considers
it unacceptable that the analysis of a work be the ultimate objective of the research. In
light of this, this paper offers some ideas as an initial tentative proposal for quality
standards in dubbing, highlighting the presence of the receiver who is given a more
ambitious role, understood as the dialogic other that will explain any attempt to resolve
the problems thrown up in audiovisual translation.
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... The two taxonomies combined to cover the translation and adaptation processes in dubbing. Chaume (2007) identifies six main quality standards in a dubbed product: acceptable lip-synch, credible and natural-sounding dialogue, fidelity to the original product, semiotic cohesion between words and images, clear sound and volume, and adequate role interpretation. Other authors have discussed similar dubbing quality standards in general, among these Ávila (1997), Whitman-Linsen (1992), Chaves (2000), Chaume (2012), Spiteri Miggiani (2019, 2021a, 2021b, while some others have focused on specific parameters, such as voice suitability or character synchrony (Bosseaux, 2015;Martínez Sierra, 2008a), on the prosodic features of dubbed speech (Sánchez-Mompeán, 2020) or natural-sounding dialogue (Pavesi 1996(Pavesi , 2016Romero Fresco 2006;Baños Piñero, 2009;Baños-Piñero & Chaume, 2009). ...
... The TP model proposed in this paper is based on a revisited taxonomy of dubbing quality standards further adapted from Chaume (2007). This revisited taxonomydiscussed in detail by Spiteri Miggiani (2021a, 2021b)divides the quality parameters into two categories: textual and non-textual. ...
... Moreover, it can lead to miscomprehension because of the modified auditory perception caused by the visual conflict (Möttönen and Sams, 2008). Natural-sounding dialogue also referred to as a credible or realistic oral register (Chaume, 2007(Chaume, , 2012Martínez Sierra, 2008a), is another parameter that can be associated with an error category: a language-related one as opposed to the previous one of a more technical nature. The degree of 'naturalness' (Romero Fresco, 2006) that is attainable is limited, and a certain extent of prefabricated orality (Baños-Piñero & Chaume, 2009) is expected. ...
Full-text available
Quality assessment in the field of Audiovisual Translation (AVT) has been addressed by several scholars, particularly in relation to interlingual subtitling (Pedersen, 2017; Robert & Remael, 2016), intralingual live subtitling (Romero-Fresco & Martínez Pérez, 2015) and interlingual live subtitling (Robert & Remael, 2017; Romero-Fresco & Pöchhacker, 2017), but to-date no model in relation to dubbing has been proposed. As with other AVT modes, the need for a quality assessment method in dubbing arises in academic and in-house training contexts. Moreover, localization companies often resort to ‘entry tests’ before engaging translators. Self-assessment also proves to be one of the main challenges for trainees in a dubbing training context, and any quality assessment tools can possibly be of help. This paper proposes a tentative quality assessment model that attempts to pin down the ‘errors’ in a dubbing dialogue script while measuring the quality via a percentage score system. The model focuses on the translation and adaptation phase in the dubbing workflow and is therefore based on a set of textual quality parameters. These are drawn on a revisited taxonomy of dubbing quality standards (Spiteri Miggiani, 2021a, 2021b), further adapted from Chaume (2007), which takes into account the dubbed end product as a whole. The model combines an end product-oriented approach with workflow-oriented standards and expectation norms, therefore taking the industry perspective into account. This implies considering the functionality of a dubbing script as a macro quality parameter in its own right. The application of this tentative model has so far been limited to the author’s academic and in-house training settings. This paper, therefore, is simply intended as a point of departure to pave the way towards applied and collaborative research that could test, validate, and further develop the proposed model.
... To contribute to a more solid framework for video game analysis, Chap. 1 reviewed the concept of video game from the particular standpoint of translation and the implications that the semiotic configuration of video games has for localization purposes. As stated, video games represent the most complex example of an audiovisual product, fitting the already well-known definition of an audiovisual text (Chaume 2012) with the added particularity of a third channel of communication: the tactile channel (Mejías-Climent 2019). This channel and the functional haptic codes (Heslin and Patterson 1982) it transmits allow a video game to create interaction with the users, who become the protagonists of the on-screen action. ...
... After describing the whole process, Chap. 4 focused on dubbing to characterize it in the interactive medium, always using film dubbing (Chaume 2012(Chaume , 2020) as a basic model to understand how dubbing has been adapted to video games. Particularly, quality standards in film dubbing were reviewed to determine whether they apply to video games as well, which represents a research gap that needs to be addressed with empirical studies, including also where relevant, reception studies. ...
... Furthermore, guidelines and codes of good practice in game dubbing could be helpful for professional translators both during the project preparation phase and also during in-studio recording. In relation to these quality standards, research has already been carried out in film dubbing (Chaume 2007(Chaume , 2012 but this remains an underexplored aspect of localization. This makes it essential to develop reception studies (Mangiron 2018b) to continue exploring, with data based on the users' input, just which of the quality standards in film dubbing operate similarly in video games and which need to be reoriented as proposed here. ...
This final chapter summarizes the main concepts and points discussed throughout the book regarding current practices in video game localization, focusing on the AVT mode of dubbing and the particularities it entails when dealing with interactive products, especially in terms of dubbing synchronies and quality standards. Video games represent the most powerful mass-media consumption product aimed at entertaining users and offering them a satisfactory immersive experience, and their localization process is essential to their distribution across foreign markets. Dubbing is a highly popular AVT mode whose translation practices are already standardized and it represents a basic model for video game dubbing. This chapter concludes with some possible future lines of research on video game dubbing, which remains an underexplored AVT mode within the interactive media.
... The two taxonomies combined to cover the translation and adaptation processes in dubbing. Chaume (2007) identifies six main quality standards in a dubbed product: acceptable lip-synch, credible and natural-sounding dialogue, fidelity to the original product, semiotic cohesion between words and images, clear sound and volume, and adequate role interpretation. Other authors have discussed similar dubbing quality standards in general, among these Ávila (1997), Whitman-Linsen (1992), Chaves (2000), Chaume (2012), Spiteri Miggiani (2019, 2021a, 2021b, while some others have focused on specific parameters, such as voice suitability or character synchrony (Bosseaux, 2015;Martínez Sierra, 2008a), on the prosodic features of dubbed speech (Sánchez-Mompeán, 2020) or natural-sounding dialogue (Pavesi 1996(Pavesi , 2016Romero Fresco 2006;Baños Piñero, 2009;Baños-Piñero & Chaume, 2009). ...
... The TP model proposed in this paper is based on a revisited taxonomy of dubbing quality standards further adapted from Chaume (2007). This revisited taxonomydiscussed in detail by Spiteri Miggiani (2021a, 2021b)divides the quality parameters into two categories: textual and non-textual. ...
... Moreover, it can lead to miscomprehension because of the modified auditory perception caused by the visual conflict (Möttönen and Sams, 2008). Natural-sounding dialogue also referred to as a credible or realistic oral register (Chaume, 2007(Chaume, , 2012Martínez Sierra, 2008a), is another parameter that can be associated with an error category: a language-related one as opposed to the previous one of a more technical nature. The degree of 'naturalness' (Romero Fresco, 2006) that is attainable is limited, and a certain extent of prefabricated orality (Baños-Piñero & Chaume, 2009) is expected. ...
Full-text available
The sudden boom of non-English language content on popular streaming platforms has obliged media localisation companies to react and adapt quickly to provide the market with English dubbing lip-synch services. This comes with several challenges due to the absence of a long-established English dubbing tradition and professional practice, as well as the lack of consolidated norms and conventions, or a textual repertoire to act as a point of reference. This paper builds on a prior theoretical study (Spiteri Miggiani, 2021) that seeks to identify potential norms as well as challenges in English-language dubbing. It goes a step further by exploring strategies and techniques that could address the identified challenges while aiming to satisfy the generally accepted quality standards that govern dubbing globally. The proposed strategies apply to the dubbing workflow as a whole with a special focus on the dubbing text adaptation process. The study aims to set the grounds for further research required to corroborate these strategies through applied studies in an academic setting, or through collaboration with localisation companies where they can be tested and observed in professional practice. Key words: English-language dubbing, dubbing, adaptation, training, applied strategies, quality standards, lip-synch, rhythm, intonation, sound.
... These are understood as the factors that must be considered when preparing a final product acceptable to clients, dubbing agents, and the audience. According to Chaume (2007), these expectations regarding the dubbed product relate to translatological and linguistic (synchrony, coherence, naturalness, fidelity), artistic (performance and dramatization), and technical (appropriate volume, clear voices, absence of interferences) factors. These general dubbing conventions or standards have implications for translation, where they have led to the traditional understanding of dubbing as a form of constrained translation (Titford 1982;Mayoral, Kelly, and Gallardo 1988). ...
The dubbing process is usually depicted as a linear model in which its participants occupy fixed roles determined by their specializations. However, Torre A, a Peruvian dubbing firm, applies alternative procedures in an emerging context of the dubbing industry. This first case study of dubbing in Peru seeks to examine the dubbing process employed by the agency Torre A based on two projects taking place during its emerging stage as a company. Participants from both projects were interviewed to reconstruct each project workflow. The workflows were then analyzed to contrast the monological, linear theoretical model found in the literature with the dialogical model arising from the participants' voices. The results show the looping nature of the dubbing process, which is comprised of tasks performed simultaneously or repeatedly by versatile agents whose roles depend on available human and temporal resources as well as intrinsic motivation. This multiplicity of roles also influences the quality criteria used by the agents, who formulate criteria based on their professional perspectives, experiences, and general knowledge of the dubbing process. Thus, a variety of dubbing project circumstances determine how dubbing takes place. This represents a departure from the traditional, or standardized, model of dubbing.
... On the whole, throughout these comments it can be noticed the importance participants gave to the voice's credibility inasmuch it sounds natural and matches the character (#64, #65, #76, #111, #113) (cf. Chaume 2007;Bosseaux 2008;Minutella 2021). Besides, other comments pertaining to animated film dubbing complexity and the training needed (#23, #101) (cf. ...
The main aim of this study is to determine whether and to what extent the use of celebrities to dub animated characters affects the degree of credibility of the final version. Our hypothesis is that the character’s voice has a major impact on the degree of credibility: the animated voices performed by professional dubbing actors will be more credible than those performed by actors and non-actor celebrities. Results reveal that the dubbing voice has a significant influence on the degree of credibility of the animated character. In fact, voices dubbed by professional dubbers are perceived as the most credible, whilst voices dubbed by non-actor celebrities are perceived as the least credible.
... Reception studies for dubbed audiovisual products proved beneficial in establishing dubbing quality standards. These standards are potentially the ultimate objective of translators, dubbing directors, and voice actors(Chaume 2007).Frith, Simon. 2004. ...
Abstract Song Translation as a relevant area to Translation Studies, has been receiving attention over the past decade. As Song Translation grows, so does the urge to develop a resourceful model to assist researchers in this domain, to study and understand translated songs and hopefully propose solutions to tackle some issues regarding translating a song that would be performable and singable. The two most common models to analyze the singability of translated songs were proposed by Low (2003; 2008) and Franzon (2008). These two models are compatible; therefore, in the current study, they have been merged and adjusted to analyze Persian translations of dubbed songs. In doing so, attempts have been made to fabricate a less subjective model by developing a marking system. The recommended model was verified by applying it to twenty-five songs selected from five animated movies; namely Trolls (2016), Sing (2016), Moana (2016), Coco (2017), and Smallfoot (2018). Keywords: Audiovisual Translation, Song Translation, Persian Dubbing, Singability
... Además de constituir el fenómeno específico que se analiza en este corpus, la sincronía, por su parte, constituye uno de los estándares de calidad que propugna la industria del doblaje en nuestro país (Chaume 2007). Representa la coherencia entre la imagen que se aprecia en pantalla y el elemento sonoro, y se ha clasificado en tres tipos para cine y televisión: sincronía fonética o labial (reproducción de la articulación de los labios de los personajes, siempre que se les vea en primer plano o plano detalle), cinésica (correspondencia de la traducción con los movimientos y expresividad de los personajes) e isocronía (misma duración de los enunciados originales y traducidos) (Chaume 2004b). ...
Full-text available
Resumen Este artículo pretende dar cuenta de las sincronías empleadas en el doblaje al español peninsular de un corpus multimodal compuesto por tres videojuegos del género interactivo de la acción-aventura. La metodología, de enfoque descriptivo, triangula datos cualitativos y cuantitativos obtenidos, por una parte, del análisis empírico del corpus multimodal y, por otra, del contacto directo con profesionales de la industria mediante entrevistas semiestructuradas. Asimismo, se revisarán algunos planteamientos previos de los estudios de corpus, estrechamente relacionados con los Estudios Descriptivos en Traducción, y de la práctica profesional de la localización, abordándola desde el enfoque de la Traducción Audiovisual (TAV). Se busca así exponer cómo combinar distintos métodos y perspectivas para analizar la modalidad de TAV del doblaje en un producto multimodal interactivo, aspecto escasamente investigado empíricamente en la esfera académica por el momento, a pesar de la utilidad que ya han demostrado los estudios de corpus en el panorama traductológico. This article aims to analyze the dubbing synchronies used in a multimodal corpus composed of three video games, dubbed into Castilian Spanish, belonging to the interactive genre of action-adventure. The methodology, adopting a descriptive approach, triangulates qualitative and quantitative data obtained, on the one hand, from the empirical analysis of the multimodal corpus and, on the other hand, from direct contact with professionals in the industry through semi-structured interviews. Additionally, some previous approaches within Corpus-Based Translation Studies—closely linked to Descriptive Translation Studies—will be reviewed, as well as the professional practice of localization, from the perspective of audiovisual translation (AVT). The goal is thus to present how different methods and perspectives can be combined to analyze the AVT mode of dubbing in a multimodal and interactive product, which remains largely unexplored in academia so far, despite the efficacy that corpus studies have demonstrated in translation studies.
... On the whole, throughout these comments it can be noticed the importance participants gave to the voice's credibility inasmuch it sounds natural and matches the character (#64, #65, #76, #111, #113) (cf. Chaume 2007;Bosseaux 2008;Minutella 2021). Besides, other comments pertaining to animated film dubbing complexity and the training needed (#23, #101) (cf. ...
Conference Paper
Las películas de animación estadounidenses suelen recurrir a voces famosas para dar vida a los personajes animados que aparecen en pantalla (Wright y Lallo, 2009). En el doblaje de estas películas al castellano también es cada vez más frecuente contar con voces famosas como un tipo de reclamo para llamar la atención del público y hacer que acuda a las salas a ver la película (Montgomery, 2017). A las voces de los actores de doblaje se suman las voces de personajes famosos de diversa índole (actores, cantantes, presentadores, deportistas, cocineros…), que no suelen tener formación ni experiencia previa en el mundo del doblaje (Sánchez-Mompeán, 2015). Dado que esta modalidad audiovisual requiere una técnica vocal específica y unas cualidades interpretativas que deben ajustarse a las limitaciones impuestas por el medio, la falta de conocimientos y experiencia en este sector podría influir tanto en el grado de credibilidad del producto doblado como en la recepción del personaje animado. El presente estudio tiene como objetivo constatar si la voz que se emplea en el doblaje afecta, y en qué medida, el grado de credibilidad del personaje de animación, una cuestión que apenas se ha investigado a nivel empírico. Así pues, nuestra hipótesis de partida es que la voz de un personaje afecta el grado de credibilidad de ese personaje en la versión doblada: cuando las voces son de famosos actores y no actores, existe una diferencia de actuación (delivery) que resulta menos creíble y menos natural que cuando se trata de voces de actores de doblaje. Para corroborar esta hipótesis, se diseñó un estudio de recepción en el que se seleccionaron varios clips de las películas de animación Hotel Transilvania 3 (2018) y Smallfoot (2018), que cumplían con las cuatro variables del estudio: la presencia de personajes doblados por (1) actores de doblaje, (2) actores famosos de voz conocida, (3) actores famosos de voz menos conocida y (4) famosos no actores. En el estudio participaron de manera voluntaria un total de 127 alumnos de la Universidad de Murcia. El estudio consistía en un cuestionario de recepción en el que tenían que visionar 8 clips de un máximo de 30 segundos de duración y contestar a unas breves preguntas en relación con cada uno de ellos (en las cuales se controlaban las variables sobre si habían visto la película o si conocían al actor de doblaje, entre otras). Además, se les pedía que valoraran en escalas tipo Likert el grado de credibilidad de la voz del personaje en cada videoclip. Los resultados obtenidos demuestran que la voz del que realiza el doblaje tiene una gran influencia en el grado de credibilidad del personaje doblado y que la falta de formación y experiencia en el sector puede afectar la versión doblada de forma negativa. Los resultados del estudio tienen unas implicaciones muy interesantes para el sector audiovisual.
Full-text available
The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Methodology provides a comprehensive overview of methodologies in translation studies, including both well-established and more recent approaches. The Handbook is organised into three sections, the first of which covers methodological issues in the two main paradigms to have emerged from within translation studies, namely skopos theory and descriptive translation studies. The second section covers multidisciplinary perspectives in research methodology and considers their application in translation research. The third section deals with practical and pragmatic methodological issues. Each chapter provides a summary of relevant research, a literature overview, critical issues and topics, recommendations for best practice, and some suggestions for further reading. Bringing together over 30 eminent international scholars from a wide range of disciplinary and geographical backgrounds, this Handbook is essential reading for all students and scholars involved in translation methodology and research.
Chapter 4 focuses on the dubbing phase, taking place in the intermediate stage of the localization process. An initial review of basic terms used in the media localization field is included to avoid terminology overlap when referring to dubbing, voice-over and lip-sync. The industrial process of film dubbing is reviewed to establish a comparison with game dubbing. The model of quality standards in film dubbing also serves as a basis to study the differences that game dubbing standards reflect. Finally, synchronization is presented as a particular dubbing standard that requires a different taxonomy for interactive products. While film dubbing synchronies can be divided into three types, the multimodal configuration of video games expands the taxonomy to five synchronies related to the restrictions applied to the translatable assets.
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Ls cohesión semiótica en la configuración de los textos audiovisuales y sus implicaciones en traducción
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This study attempts to develop a descriptive, empirical and target-oriented approach in the field Audiovisual Translation, by focusing specifically on translation norms. Two versions of an American film are analysed, by gathering microtextual samples of both the Spanish-dubbed and Spanish-subtitled translated versions. Each of the two translated samples is then compared with the same element in the original English version. The comparison is made on the basis of a methodological framework developed specifically for this study, consisting of a three-parameter model which takes into account translation norms, audiovisual translation constraints and translation techniques. The final conclusions of the study, based on quantitative results, indicate that dubbing is subject to more constraints than subtitling, and that the so-called formal constraints are most prevalent for both translated versions. As far as norms are concerned, linguistic standarization and secondary norms are identified as most frequent. In addition, the results show that dubbing tends to use domesticating translation techniques, while subtitling tends to use a more foreignizing approach.
The procedures involved in the translation of texts have been widely studied from a linguistic point of view. However, when translation is required not only of written texts alone, but of texts in association with other communication media (image, music, oral sources, etc.), the translator's task is complicated and at the same time constrained by the latter. We introduce in this paper the concept of constrained translation from the point of view of communication theory (as defined by the terminology of Nida "dynamic translation") ; we also deal with the existence of more than one communication channel, the factors of source culture, target culture, "noise", and the role of the translator in this complex process.
Universidad de Granada Este tema ha contado con bastante atención en la literatura, ya abundante, de nuestro campo (a destacar, Linde y Kay, comprensión no concluye más que con el olvido pues la obra audiovisual continúa siendo «digerida» mientras permanece en el recuerdo en la mente del espectador dando lugar en cada momento a nuevas interpretaciones sometidas a continuas variaciones conforme se modifican los parámetros de variación. Esta situación no es exclusiva de la traducción audiovisual: ocurre así con cualquier acto de comunicación, no solamente con la comunicación ínter lingüística; ocurre especialmente con las formas de comunicación más relacionadas con la literatura y lo mismo que acabo de decir sobre la obra audiovisual lo podría haber dicho de la lectura de una novela.
: In order to analyze how "international messages" such as films are appropriated by a specific target system, I studied the French dubbed versions of a number of films. This analysis revealed a set of norms which seem to be at work on various text levels in the dubbed translations: a linguistic standardization, which affects three types of language use, a naturalization strategy, in which visual synchrony plays an important role, and a strategy which aims in various ways at making the translation more explicit than the original. The presentation of this tentative set of norms proposes a first synthetic view of the policy concerning dubbing in France. Résumé: A fin de rendre compte de l' assimilation par un systeme d'arrivée spé-cifique de films en tant que "messages internationaux", j'ai examiné un nombre de films doublés en français. Cette analyse a révélé une série de normes actives å plusieurs niveaux textuels: une standardisation linguistique qui affecte trois types d'usage, une stratégic de naturalisation, dont la synchronic visuelle est un aspect important, et une stratégic qui consiste à expliciter l'original. Ces trois types de normes hypothétiques conduisent å une premiere vue synthétique sur la politique française en matiere de doublage.