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Tradurre per il doppiaggio: la trasposizione linguistica dell'audiovisivo. Teoria e pratica di un'arte imperfetta.

Tradurre per il doppiaggio: la trasposizione linguistica dell'audiovisivo. Teoria e pratica di un'arte imperfetta. By Mario Paolinelli and Eleonora Di Fortunato. Milan: Hoepli. 2005. 163 pp. 19 [euro]. ISBN 88-203-3385-6.

Tradurre per il doppiaggio explains the translation strategies and the linguistic issues involved in the dubbing process. Divided into four chapters and three appendices (an Italian contract for dubbing workers, a section on legal guidelines for standard wages, and an open letter to film authors), this study is concerned with diverse aspects of translation studies and Italian culture while introducing the form of translation called 'adaptation', a term which includes all the procedures involved in translating audiovisual scripts for the purpose of dubbing them.

The first chapter contextualizes the development of dubbing in Italy, clarifies the terminology and the functional roles of those involved in the process ('translator-adaptor', dialogist, actor-dubber); it situates 'adaptation' within translation studies and analyses the impact of dubbing on Italian culture. The authors demonstrate how Hollywood 'majors' not only imposed dubbing internationally, but also how arbitrarily they justify their refusal to dub audiovisuals into English. Tradurre per il doppiaggio deals with this key issue, supporting the authors' position with statistical data, provided by external bodies that record figures on the international circulation of audiovisual materials. From this perspective, the current, unilateralist approach to dubbing has contributed to a problematic stasis in European film industries; whereas translation is a mediation, the refusal of 'adaptation' has paradoxically become a socio-cultural barrier.

The case study presented in the second chapter, 'La pratica dell'adattamento', explains translation strategies in use. Its effective description allows a straightforward comparison between the source text, Tarantino's Jackie Brown (1997) and the target text 'adapted' by Paolinelli. The authors explain how 'adaptations' reinforce the visual and aesthetic effects of the projected scene in contrast to subtitling. Thus, compared to the constraints of text translation, 'adaptation' must respect even more parameters--lip and body synchrony, delivery timing, and acting--so as not to undermine the visual effects. Moving from the individual case study to the broader context, the third chapter, 'La situazione del doppiaggio', focuses on professional issues of dubbing within the Italian context. This analysis could also interest scholars of film studies. While describing the current situation as discouraging but slowly improving, this section discusses how legal issues concerned with the profession have been recently resolved or directed towards a solution. The grey area of translator-adaptor's copyrights is clarified while providing information on wages, contract clauses, and acts defending intellectual labour.

The last chapter effectively deals with dubbing as a cultural task and attacks the American protectionist usage of dubbing as an international marketing strategy. European masterpieces have attained both fame and large circulation when they too have benefited from dubbing into English. In this perspective, a refusal to dub widely into English in the age of DVD not only affects artistic and popular European productions (which are prevented from acquiring capital that could be invested in production from worldwide distribution), but also limits the freedom of English-speaking audiences. These audiences cannot democratically access a product available in both dubbed and subtitled versions for other audiences (e.g. Italian, French, and Spanish). The authors argue against pseudo-intellectual protectionism by saying that 'nobody will force anybody to watch dubbed films' (p. 114) but, with dubbing, those who do not like subtitles might discover new filmic cultures otherwise inaccessible to them. Tradurre per il doppiaggio conveys years of expertise in a study that balances research with the know-how of established professionals. As adaptors' jargon and acronyms are appropriately glossed, this study never lacks readability and could become a useful university coursebook for audiovisual translation. Its only limitation--partially justifiable--lies in the polemical tone that sometimes surfaces in the presentation of facts, which might undermine arguments that are otherwise well illustrated. As an informative and well-grounded study, this book could become an instrument for learning (and teaching) the cultural and linguistic impact of dubbing in Italian society. Its legal dimension also makes it helpful reading for experts in film studies who are interested in issues of film circulation that are connected to dubbing.


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Author:Federici, Federico M.
Publication:The Modern Language Review
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jul 1, 2006
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