Publication details [#12921]

Publication type
Article in Special issue
Publication language
Source language
Target language


One of the main functions of dialogue in film narrative is the construction of character voice, which is partly realized through the skillful use of the sociolinguistic and pragmatic resources of language. In the English subtitling of Japanese animation, there are however two barriers to recreating this function. The first barrier is the major pragmatic and sociolinguistic difference between Japanese and English, and the second consists of the technical constraints of subtitling as a mode of translation. The article describes from a textual point of view how subtitlers have addressed the stylistic problem of character voice, focusing on the work of Neil Nadelman in the film Grave of the Fireflies ('Hotaru no Haka') and in single episodes from two TV series, Revolutionary Girl Utena ('Shōjo Kakumei Utena') and Slayers Try ('Sureiyāzu Torai'), and on the work of David Fleming in the film Akira ('Akira'). For all four works, another commercially available subtitled version, either in English or French, is considered for purposes of comparison. Comparison suggests that strategies vary with regard to character voice, but that the decimation of stylistic function is not inevitable in subtitling as a mode of translation.
Source : Abstract in journal