chapter  4
24 Pages

“Free Free … Set them Free”

What Deconstraining Subtitles Can Do for AVT
ByDavid Katan

This chapter begins by questioning the subtitler’s traditional role and the (f)utility of constraining audiovisual translation into a single semiotic mode, disjoined from the action of the film. Nornes (1999) was the first to suggest that the “time is right” for abusive subtitling. Since then, a number of scholars have discussed the use of pop-up glosses, in the main captioned verbal glosses, to be added to the subtitles. However, even though these ideas are no different from those used by fansubbers and by a number of film and TV directors, the subtitling profession is still extremely unwilling to take these ideas on board. Indeed, it is the “control of the industry [that] keeps a firm lid on the potential spread of innovative subtitling” (Pérez-González 2012: 13).

In this particular experiment, a short UK comedy TV sketch was transcreated into Italian using speech bubbles, thought balloons and visual pop-up glosses with the aim of not only reproducing the comedic effect but also of allowing the target audience to access at least some of the culture-bound associations available to the source audience. In particular, the experiment was designed to test the hypothesis that the use of thought balloons will actually help the viewer access the speaker’s culture-bound model of the world.