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ERIC Number: EJ979146
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-May
Pages: 21
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 33
ISSN: ISSN-0167-8507
The Translation of Cinematic Discourse and the Question of Character Equivalence in "Talk to Me"
Petrucci, Peter
Multilingua: Journal of Cross-Cultural and Interlanguage Communication, v31 n2 p231-251 May 2012
When films rich in cinematic discourse are translated, "character equivalence", the extent to which translated dialogue distorts identities in the original film, may pose a special challenge for the screen translator. This article discusses this issue in the context of "Talk to me" (Lemmons 2007), a film which showcases stylised African American English and Standard American English. Stretches of discourse from a pivotal scene in the original English-language production are analysed, and it is revealed that the filmmaker's development of the main characters is as much reliant on language choice, style shifts and the pragmatics of African American English as it is on visual cinematic devices like facial and gestural expression, costume and on-screen action. The article then addresses the same discourse, but this time from "Fale comigo," the Brazilian Portuguese subtitled and dubbed versions of the film. By carrying out a careful analysis of these stretches of stylised discourse, the "translated" characters can be compared to the original characters. The subtitled speech is argued to be bland and ineffectual, with much of the stylised African American English representations and meaningful verbal jockeying between the characters lost in translation. On the other hand, the dubbed speech is rich in its own regard and brings forth characters who, although speaking Brazilian Portuguese varieties, demonstrate similar linguistic profiles to those in the original film. These observations are partially corroborated by means of an informal audience response exercise where a small number of Brazilians watched one or the other version and later came together to comment on the characters. The question of character equivalence in discourse-rich films like "Talk to me" suggests that successful screen translators take their target audience under consideration and view the challenge of rendering cinematic discourse into another language from both a linguistic and sociocultural perspective. (Contains 2 notes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Brazil