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Talking proper vs. talking with an accent: the sociolinguistic divide in original and translated audiovisual dialogue

Irene Ranzato EMAIL logo
From the journal Multilingua

Abstract

The codification of propriety – talking with a ‘proper’ accent – is recorded in audiovisual texts so that cross-cultural interaction between social groups is not left to verbal dialogue alone but to more or less accurate visual cues and to paralinguistic as well as prosodic information. This chapter will examine scenes from various audiovisual texts, which feature characters speaking with a British received pronunciation – arguably, the ‘proper’ accent – in contrast to those who speak with a variety of British accents. The main purpose of these narratives is the portrayal of a sociolinguistic divide, either to provide a realistic account of problematic or potentially inflammatory culture clashes or as stereotypical means to elicit a humorous response. The problem of transferring information related to such a linguistic and social gap in audiovisual translation has long been recognised as one of the most difficult challenges translators have to deal with. The examples quoted in this article, all related to the dubbing mode of translation, will, however, illustrate how prosodic and suprasegmental features can travel cross-culturally and could be, and sometimes are, taken into account by translators and adapters to maintain the linguistic contrast observed in the originals.

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Filmography

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Published Online: 2019-08-21
Published in Print: 2019-09-25

© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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