A functional approach to audio description. Proposal of a framework
Conference name
Media for All 8
In Translation Studies (TS) the 1980s saw a shift away from static linguistic and equivalence-based approaches to translation towards more flexible ones focused on the functions of the source text and the purpose (skopos) of the target text in the target culture (e.g. Nord 1997; Vermeer 1989 [2000]). Unlike in the traditional linguistic approaches – which saw translation as a purely linguistic operation – in the functional approach translation was seen as a type of communication involving a number of players and having a specific purpose (or function), which had an impact on the applied translation methods.

Since audio description (AD) is a type of translation, whereby images are translated into words, it could be assumed that most of the tenets of TS would be applicable to AD as well. The idea of the functional approach being applied to AD has already been hinted at by AD scholars (e.g. Bardini 2017; Mazur 2014; Vercauteren 2016), including in the context of moving away from hard-and-fast AD guidelines to more flexible AD strategies (see e.g. Remael et al. 2014). To the best of the author’s knowledge, however, to date no systematic application of functionalism to AD has been proposed.

In the presentation I will propose a functionally-oriented framework that will include both a macro- and micro-level analyses of the source text with a view to determining the functional priorities in AD. This, in turn, will help inform the audio describer’s decision-making process in their selection of appropriate AD strategies in order to best fulfil the skoposof this type of audiovisual transfer. What is more, a functionally-oriented typology of audiovisual texts will be proposed, based on the premise that there is a correspondence between natural language functions and film language functions, on the one hand, and – by extension – between ‘traditional’ text types and audiovisual text types, on the other. The functional framework as applied to AD will first of all be an attempt to theorize about AD, but more importantly, it will be a practical tool for effective audio description, especially useful for trainee or beginner audio describers.
Submitted by Irene Tor on Sat, 06/07/2019 - 06:09