The translation of a film discourse as a special type of audiovisual translation

This article is devoted to the discussion of a translation of film discourse in terms of polysemiotic concept. The special emphasis is made on lingua cultural components of a film discourse; due to the fact that in cinema translation two or more cultures meet and when translators translate any material they transfer not only linguistics features, but also cultural aspects of a source nation. The concept a film discourse might be defined through the concept film text. In comparison with a film discourse a film text might be considered as its fragment, whereas a film discourses as a whole text or a corpus of texts combined by some features. In our opinion a film discourse is the reflection of a specific type of culture; reflection of reality and modern understanding of traditional values and forming new values. That is why it is very important to pay attention to national and cultural aspects of a film discourse while transferring them from the source language to the target language.

Language and culture have some features in common: they both formulate and represent the outlook of the man and nation; they are always in the constant interrelation, since the subject of communication is the subject of the definite culture; they have individual and public forms of existence; both elements have norms, history and often overlap. Language is the component of culture, the main element to attain it, the main tool with specific features of national mentality. On the other hand, the culture is included in the language, since the culture is modeled in the text. Nevertheless there are distinct differences between them: the language is addressed to the wide public as a means of communication, whereas in culture elite is valued; unlike the language, culture is not capable to self organization. When speaking about culture we refer to two kinds of culture: material and spiritual. The spiritual culture is the basis of national mentality.

The language and culture play an accumulative function, when they collect and reflect in themselves the socio-cultural experience of the nation. Tarlanov Z. K. says the following about this issue: “The language within the boundaries of its speakers is not only the means of communication, but also memory and history of the nation, culture and experience of cognitive activity; its world-view and mentality; the luggage of knowledge that has been consolidated from generation to generation about nature and space, diseases and the ways of treatment, up-bringing and preparation of new generation of people to life with the interest of preserving and increasing its ethnic identity. Thereby the language represents the form of culture which embodies historically formed national type of life with all its diversity and dialectical contradiction”. [1] These days when globalization has become a widespread phenomenon the real danger to the language emerged; and in its turn it caused the danger to the culture as well, since we can conclude from the previously mentioned suggestions that the language is a culture itself.

In the process of intercultural communication it is essential to take into account the cultural component in the types of communication such as film. Prior to speaking about film and film discourse we should characterize the discourse itself.

Ferdinand Saussure in the very beginning of “Course of General Linguistics” pointed on the fundamental feature of his approach to the language with his phrase, that served as initial point for many generations of structuralists: “Language is a structure”, that is thoroughly organized system of expressive means. [2]

The interpretation of discourse is based on this definition, which in its turn is understood as system of systems [3] that is system of the second order, based on the language system. Each definite discourse takes elements of language system necessary for him.

The concept of discourse is a polysemantic concept. A. J. Greimas in “Semantique Structurale”, interprets discourse as a semiotic process, which exists in various types of discourse practices[4]. Despite some contradictions in the definition of discourse, the majority of scholars when speaking about discourse, take it as a specific medium or specific rules of organizing speech activity (written or oral).

The concept film discourse appeared due to the expansion of the subject of linguistics of film text. Extra linguistic factors dominate in a film discourse over linguistic ones. Not only have the factors of communicative situation belonged to the extra linguistic factors but also the factors of cultural and ideological environment in which the communication takes place. It is extra linguistic factors that A. N. Zaretskaya studies in her research, claims that “film discourse is a coherent text, which is a verbal component of a film, in constellation of with non verbal components as audiovisual order of this film and other meaningful extra linguistic factors. As extra linguistics factors we might consider various cultural and historical background knowledge of addressee, extra-linguistic context – surroundings, time and place, some non verbal devices: pictures, gestures and mime that are of great importance in the process of creating and perceiving film [5, 8].

According to A. N. Zaretskaya the main features of a film discourse are audio-visual aspects, intertextuality, integrity, modality, self-descriptiveness, prospection and retrospection, pragmatic trend.

One more definition of film discourse belong to S. S. Nazmutdinova: “film discourse is a semiotically complex and dynamic process of interaction of an author and a recipient, which occurs in intercultural and interlanguage space with the help of cinema language, which possesses features of syntax, verbal and visual combination of elements, plurality of addressees, context of meaning, iconic accuracy and synthetic character” [6, 7].

Having analyzed a number of opinions about the nature of a film discourse we come to

conclusion that a film discourse is a wider concept, which includes a film text, a film itself, the interpretation of the film by the spectator and the meaning that was put by the creators of the film. In addition the film discourse includes various types of correlation with different kinds of arts, for instance, literature, theatre and interactive systems as television series, computer games.

So the concept a film discourse might be defined through the concept film text. In comparison with a film discourse a film text might be considered as its fragment, whereas a film discourses as a whole text or a corpus of texts combined by some features.

In our opinion as the components of a film text can be represented as only narrow extra linguistic factors (factors of communicative situation), whereas the structure of a film discourse copes with wide extra linguistic factors (factors of cultural and ideological environment, where the communication takes place).

Thereby for a contemporary linguistics it turns out to be more productive to study a film discourse as a linguistic foundation which has broadened structure and characterized by a number of features such as relatedness, integrity, intertextuality, modality and so on and has a wider sphere of activity for contemporary researchers.

For instance, Oscar Wilde’s very popular play, The Importance of Being Earnest, evokes a number of dramatic elements which fall under one of the major modes as a comedy. From the beginning to the end of the play there are many miscommunications, mistaken judgment, and failures by the characters which are represented in a humorous way. With this excellent play available as text or a film version, one may wonder whether a text or a film truly expresses Wilde’s witty characters and genuine comedic satire more precisely. By the means of thorough analysis and in depth research, it has become obvious that the film version surpasses the text by expressing the play more accurately and embracing the spectators from the very beginning till the end with its lively visual effects, powerful sound additions, and credible conversation.

The plentiful similarities between the text and film present a complex decision in selecting one over the other. Both the text and film version give strong dialogue presented by multi-sided characters. Both versions a text and a film use cheerful personages to assist in transferring the general meaning of the play [7].

However the trump of a film over a text is arguable as the audience sees the film in the perspective of film creators, how they see the message given in a literary work or a screenplay, whereas a text gives an opportunity for a reader to create individual images in one’s mind which are unique only to him or her. And when we come to a translated version of the film, we must take into consideration the translator’s outlook as well.

It should be stressed that non verbal components of a film has a great importance, therefore they should be thoroughly studied, the actors’ play is closely connected with verbal components, the peculiarities of the filming, editing and sound effects, which concentrate the attention of the spectators on the film text and not observed while reading screenplay or subtitles.

In our opinion a film discourse is the reflection of a specific type of culture; reflection of reality and modern understanding of traditional values and forming new values. That is why it is very important to pay attention to national and cultural aspects of a film discourse while transferring them from the source language to the target language.

Having understood a film discourse as a semiotic complex foundation in which the impact on an addressee is made by the means of verbal and iconic cohesion we refer to N. B. Meschkovskaya talking about the role of integrated character of signs which secure communication: “a success of communication depends on its semiotic framing – on to what extent it was possible to express the necessary information in concentrated sign appearance – on ritual, symbol, formula, geographic map, scheme, terminology, slogan or aphorism, traffic sign, poster, symphony, poem, film….” [6, 3]. From this statement we can conclude that as a film discourse represents concentration of two types of signs – verbal and iconic, it should be studied from the angle how this unity takes part in the process of successful realization in inter and cross cultural communication. Our interest in a film discourse is connected with a latter one.

In correlation to the above mentioned issues we outline the aim of the work as the study of a film discourse in cross-cultural aspect, which first-hand objective is the study of harmonicity of national and cultural contents by verbal, non verbal and iconic means in the process of translation.

S. S. Nazmutdinova outlines three layers of harmonicity. Each layer has its own fields. The first layer consists of content field, where a interlanguage translation takes place, the aim of which is to transfer the message from one language into another. The translator transfers only factual con-

tent, giving thematic and thematic sequence of events in a cinema phrase.

The second layer represents both translations interlingual and intralingual. In this layer the following cinema scopes are translated: factual, irradiative, reflective, polymodal, individually figurative. It is supposed that in translation space the activity is organized in such way, that a translator transfers not only content of communication but also emotions of personages, intention of an author and tonality of in the frame real communication.

The third layer is the layer of harmonious translation. It should be considered as a cross cultural and proves synergy of translation. The translation of all units is impossible. On that level a phatic field becomes a priority, which forms a cultural cinema scope.

The synergy of the following scopes such as factual, content, audio visual, cultural and iconic makes a harmonious translation.

Translating from one culture to another is complicated and demands great responsibility. In order to translate either a text or a film, a translator should know both cultures very well, otherwise it might cause misunderstanding through the translated work. Transferring culture from one language into another demands that translators make a choice between conservation and replacement of an item.

After its national release a film should not only reach an international audience but also gain success. In this process of reaching a broader audience sociolinguistic differences play the main barrier, therefore audio-visual translation has taken important social and economic importance. Language and culture are deeply interconnected and when translators translate the material they do not translate only linguistic features but also transfer cul-

tural aspects, thus these moments might lead to some difficulties in translation. Since in cinema translation two or more cultures meet it might raise significant cross-cultural issues. If these issues are not treated properly it might end up with unintelligible translation for target audiences.

These issues regarding cultural transfer of films are diverse ranging from the selection of films which should be distributed to the marketing strategies applied and techniques used to render culture-specific items. Rendering culture-specific items is considered to be one of the most difficult spheres of intercultural transfer, to the extent that culture-specific items are regarded to in the literature as being “untranslatable”.

In present it has become very popular to broadcast Turkish television series on Kazakhstan television channels both in Kazakh and Russian languages. The popularity of Turkish television series might be conditioned by the fact that Kazakh and Turkish nations belong to akin ethnic Turkic group and have some common traditions and rituals. The translator should be aware of the interpretation of Turkish traditions in order to convey their meaning in the target language; in addition he should take into consideration the mentality of the audience. In our case the audience is multinational; despite the fact that the majority of the Republic is Kazakhs, there are many other ethnic groups.

Thanks to the films the audience has an opportunity not only to embrace the atmosphere of modern life of this or that country but also to get acquainted with its cultural features and traditions. The acquaintance with the discourse of another nation helps compare various social and cultural contexts in which communicators take part; and understand in deep their own discourse.



  1. Tarlanov. Z.K. Yazik. Etnos. Vremys: ocherki po russkomu i obshemu yazikoznaniyu/Z.K. Tralanov. – Petrozavodsk: Izdatel’stvo Petrozavodskogo universiteta, 1993.223 s.
  2. Saussure Ferdinand de, Kurs obshei lingvistiki. Per. s frantsuzkogo yazika. M.: Editorial URSS, 2001. – 256 s.
  3. Derrida J. White Mythology: metaphor in the text of philosophy, New Library History, 6(1), 1974:5-74
  4. Zaretskaya. A. N. Osobennosti realizatsii podteksta v kinodiskurse: diss. … kand. filol. nauk. Chelyabinsk, 2010. 22s.
  5. Nazmutdinova. S.S. Garmaniya kak perevodcheskaya kategoriya (na materiale russkogo, anhliyskogo I frantsuzkogo kinodiskursf): avtoref. diss. … kand. filol. nauk. Tumen, 2008. 18 s.
  6. "The Importance Of Being Earnest: Film Vs. Text". Anti Essays. Dec. 2011 7 Mechkovskaya N. B. Sotcialnaya lingvistika: Posobiye dlya studentov gumanit. vuzov I uchashihsya litseev. – 2-e izd., ispr. –M.Aspect Press, 200. – 207 s.
Magazine: KazNU BULLETIN
Year: 2018
City: Almaty
Category: Philology