Title: To the verbal and beyond: Translation Studies under review
Sara Ramos Pinto, University of Leeds
Multimodality has always been “the normal state of human communication” (Kress 2010, 1). This has led disciplines like Translation Studies (TS), traditionally focused on the verbal, to turn to the recent field of Multimodal Studies for adequate methodologies and analytical frameworks that can ground research on the translation of multimodal texts such as films, websites or comics. A new multimodal turn in TS has adopted some of the analytical tools and concepts developed within the area of multimodality, yet with little in-depth reflection on the principles upon which those tools have been built or on what accepting those principles means for TS. As a result, translation theories remain mostly focused on the verbal while limiting the discussion of all other semiotic resources (integral to meaning-making in multimodal texts) to a contextualising role.
To acknowledge the multimodal nature of communication means accepting that the realms of translation and TS include more than words in context. It means accepting that translation needs to consider all modes and the meanings they promote, but also that all resources co-occurring with writing/speech are signs in their own right that might present different challenges to (different) viewers. This constitutes a fundamental shift which implies a different understanding of translation and leads us to revisit fundamental concepts such as “text”, “source text” and “target text” or “equivalence”. It also opens the question on whether, as socioculturally-shaped resources, modes other than writing and speech might need to be translated and how that could be achieved.
I will start by revising some of Multimodal Studies’ principles and discuss the implications for Translation Studies of adopting a multimodal approach. In this effort, I will review some of the basic concepts of Translation Studies and raise several questions I believe should be at the center of the discipline. I will ground some of this discussion on data collected in a recent reception study.
Sara Ramos Pinto is an Associate Professor in Translation Studies at the University of Leeds, where she is currently the Programme Manager of the MA in Audiovisual Translation.
Her research focuses on audiovisual translation and translation theory as she is interested in investigating the translation and reception of multimodal products and the challenges this brings to translation practice and theory. This has led her to work at the intersection of Translation Studies and Multimodal and Cultural Studies, but also to work even more closely with film directors and distributors and professional subtitlers via interviews, a large survey and an action research project in which she is collaborating in the creative subtitling of a feature film.
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