The choice between subtitling and revoicing in Greece: Norms in action

Fotios Karamitroglou
Faculty of English Studies, University of Athens, Greece

Abstract

Normative behaviour in situations of language transfer has been gaining ground in Translation Studies and research. The choice between subtitling and revoicing is such a situation, on a rather preliminary level. This article is a summary of an empirical study into why human agents decide to subtitle rather than revoice children’s TV programmes. Not surprisingly, the trend seems to arise from other audiovisual forms and media. Overall, however, the positive audience response towards certain dubbed products seems to depend more on the good promotion and quality of the specific programmes than on the individual merits of any language transfer method per se, as most language transfer commissioners seem indifferent to the implications of such a choice.

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Table of contents

The audiovisual map of Europe divides its member states into predominantly ‘subtitling’ or predominantly ‘dubbing’. On this map, Greece has been traditionally charted as a predominantly subtitling country (Papadakis 1998: 65; Luyken et al. 1991: 181). A survey conducted in 1989 showed that 90% of TV programmes broadcast in Greece were subtitled, only 5% dubbed, and another 5% voiced-over (Luyken et al. 1991: 33; Screen digest 1992: 157). Nevertheless, when it comes to children’s TV programmes in particular, the situation seems to be modified since “cartoons are invariably revoiced even in subtitling [ p. 306 ]countries...because of the age-range of their expected audience and because of the need to preserve their visual integrity” (Luyken et al. 1991: 134).

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