Chapter 2 | History of Audiovisual Translation


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Publication date: 13 September 2018
Copyright date 2019
Hardback ISBN: 9781138859524
E-book ISBN 9781315717166
You can order this volume on the Routledge website






Audiovisual translation studies has been experiencing a resurgence in interest in historical approaches since the early 2010s. This has followed a more general growing interest in translation history since the late 1990s. These developments require the researcher to look simultaneously at translation practices, technical processes and marketing strategies that are all intertwined, especially in the early years of film translation. We say ‘film translation’ here since this phrase is widely used in the pre-TV era, though as is explained elsewhere in this volume, a number of different terms have been used over the years. This chapter takes, broadly speaking, a chronological approach. It begins by looking at the translated intertitles and film explainers of the silent era. It goes on to look at the transition to sound, at the short-lived multilingual versions and then at the development of subtitling and dubbing. The question of translation into English and the cultural position of the ‘foreign film’ is briefly dealt with. The chapter ends by outlining current issues and new debates in film translation history, and touching on a couple of significant methodological contributions in this area.



Carol O’Sullivan is Director of Translation Studies in the School of Modern Languages at the University of Bristol. Her research interests include audiovisual translation, translation history and literary translation. She is the author of Translating Popular Film (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011). Her current project is on the history of screen translation in the silent and early sound periods, and she is the co-editor with Jean-François Cornu of a volume in preparation on this topic. She is Editor-in-Chief of the journal Translation Studies.




Jean-François Cornu is a professional translator specializing in subtitling and the translation from English into French of books on cinema and art. A former Senior Lecturer at the University of Rennes-2, France, he is also an independent film researcher. In 2014, he published Le doublage et le sous-titrage: histoire et esthétique (Presses universitaires de Rennes). He is a member of the Association des Traducteurs Adaptateurs de l’Audiovisuel (ATAA) and co-editor of its e-journal L’Écran traduit.



The Routledge Handbook of Audiovisual Translation Studies provides an authoritative and straightforward overview of the field through thirty-two specially commissioned chapters written by leading scholars in the field.

This state-of-the-art reference work is divided in four sections. The first part focuses on established and emerging audiovisual translation modalities, explores the changing contexts in which they have been and continue to be used, and examine how cultural and technological changes are directing their future trajectories. The second part explores the interface between audiovisual translation and a range of theoretical models that have proved particularly productive in steering research in audiovisual translation studies. Some of these models are associated with disciplines that have long intersected with audiovisual translation, while others are drawn from areas of knowledge that are only now beginning to make their presence felt in the audiovisual translation literature. The third part surveys a range of methodological approaches supporting traditional and innovative ways of interrogating audiovisual translation data. The final part addresses a range of themes pertaining to the place of audiovisual translation in society: these include the institutionalization, academization and technologization of audiovisual translation, as well as its role as a force for social change, both within and outside the industry. This Handbook gives audiovisual translation studies the voice it needs to make its presence felt within the Humanities research landscape.


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