Title
"I hope you'll not try anything funny". Subtitling crime fiction for Belgian Dutch speakers
Conference name
Media for All 8
City
Modalities
Date
18/06/2019
Abstract
The impact of a general language policy to which (audiovisual) translators have to adhere, as well as ‘linguistic corrections' made by editors proofreading (audiovisual) translations are often overlooked when discussing translation quality. Strict linguistic guidelines indeed may have to be followed, particularly at public service broadcasters, which inevitably restrict (audiovisual) translators and any changes made to their translations are not always discussed with them first. General language policies, for this reason, may affect the quality of audiovisual translation products for a specific target audience.

This paper uses the Flemish Public Service Broadcaster's (VRT) subtitling practice as a case study. VRT has a history of vigorous language planning in the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium. Since its establishment, it not only promoted the use of the Netherlandic Dutch standard, between 1950-1980, it even engaged in what linguists referred to as "hyperstandardisation"(Van Hoof & Jaspers 2013)when broadcasting language programmes intended to teach its audience ‘correct Dutch’ (i.e. standard Netherlandic Dutch). Twenty years ago, however, VRT acknowledged the existence of a Belgian variety of standard Dutch (colloquially called "Flemish"). Moreover, it announced that it would no longer adhere to the Netherlandic standard and that it would actively start using its own marked Belgian Dutch lexis in its programmes (Hendrickx 1998). Five years later, the official Dutch language-planning body also officially acknowledged that the Dutch language area was pluricentric and recognised two equal national varieties in mainland Europe: Netherlandic Dutch and Belgian Dutch (‘Flemish’) (Nederlandse Taalunie 2003). To establish if and to what extent, this note-worthy language policy change has affected VRT’s subtitles, a lexical analysis of a diachronic corpus of 22,000 VRT crime fiction subtitles, broadcast between 1995-2013 was conducted using corpus linguistics techniques (De Ridder & O'Connell 2018). In particular, the rendering of lower register speech in these police procedurals, a genre characterised by a commitment to realism and abundant in street slang, tough talk, and taboo language, was scrutinised in both inter- and intralingual subtitles. Some of the findings were that VRT subtitlers remain rather conservative, particularly when rendering lower register lexis, in that they continue to draw on marked Netherlandic Dutch rather than Belgian Dutch lexis.
Submitted by Irene Tor on Mon, 24/06/2019 - 12:05