Lletres Asturianes

Audiovisual translation matters. On the sociolinguistic importance of audiovisual translation

Reglindis De Ridder


From its early days, audiovisual translation has often been referred to as constrained translation (Titford, 1982; Mayoral, Kelly & Gallardo, 1988). Skilled audiovisual translators try to find creative solutions to deal with these constraints, yet some might argue inevitably things get lost in translation. However, from a sociolinguistic point of view, there is also a lot to be gained from translation. Especially, in minority and smaller language areas that tend to rely more on imported foreign content. More recently, the emergence of several streaming platforms has started to change the audiovisual media landscape, as well as media consumption and audiovisual translation practices. These content providers are mostly large American companies and they are often feared to flood smaller countries and regions with their American content. Because of this, attempts have been made to protect local markets. Even at EU level, measures are in place to promote European audiovisual media. Importing foreign content can broaden the audience’s horizon, but the importance of making it accessible to a wide range of audiences with different linguistic preferences and special needs is often underrated. As a result, some content providers fail to adequately assess the implications of neglecting parts of their audiences. The impact of audiovisual translation, including dubbing of both local and foreign animation, is often underestimated. In this article, audiovisual translation practice is discussed, explaining sociolinguistic implications focussing on language planning (De Ridder & O’Connell, 2018) and linguistic diversity (De Ridder, 2019; 2020; 2021) in audiovisual content. It aims to raise more awareness of the role audiovisual translation can play and calls for better regulation.

Pallabres clave

audiovisual translation, minority language media studies, language planning, linguistic normalisation

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Lletres Asturianes
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