Cultural globalization and the practice of translation: Technologies, standards, and routines of audiovisual translation in four European countries
sociology and anthropology university of amsterdam Amsterdam, Netherlands
Translation is often used as a metaphor for what happens when people, ideas, and object move across boundaries. However, this paper will analyze the actual practice of translation, as a crucial but often unnoticed contribution to globalization processes and transnational flows.
Using data from interviews with translators and translation specialists, along with observational data of translation practices, this article analyzes the standards, routines, and practices of audiovisual translation (e.g. film, television, gaming) in four European countries: the Netherlands, Italy, France, and Poland. Different technologies for audiovisual translation have been adopted in these countries, each having their own possibilities and constraints: dubbing in France and Italy, subtitling in the Netherlands, and a voiceover (for television) and subtitling (for cinemas) in Poland. This paper will, first, sketch the development and working of each of these translation systems, within the larger cultural and media field. Second, it will focus on the actual practice and standards for audiovisual transnational in these four national contexts: how are cultural imports translated and adapted? What happens in dubbing and voiceover studios, and in translation offices? How do translators understand their relation with the content, genre, and provenance, of the source "text"? How are translation practices embedded in institutional contexts? And how do these practices, standards, and routines differ cross-nationally? Each translation technology has specific consequences, but using the cases of Italy and France, two dubbing countries, I will show that even the same translation system can lead to very different effects in different institutional and cultural contexts.