Language variation in source texts and their translations: The case of L3 in film translation

Montse Corrius and Patrick Zabalbeascoa

In addition to the two languages essentially involved in translation, that of the source text (L1) and that of the target text (L2), we propose a third language (L3) to refer to any other language(s) found either or both texts. L3 may appear in the source text (ST) or the target text (TT), actually appearing more frequently in STs in our case studies. We present a range of combinations for the convergence and divergence of L1, L2 and L3, for the case of feature films and their translations using examples from dubbed and subtitled versions of films, but we are hopeful that our tentative conclusions may be relevant to other modalities of translation, audiovisual and otherwise. When L3 appears in an audiovisual ST, we find a variety of solutions whereby L3 is deleted from or adapted to the TT. In the latter case, L3 might be rendered in a number of ways, depending on factors such as the audience’s familiarity with L3, and the possibility that L3 in the ST is an invented language.

Table of contents

The aim of this article is to present a proposal for analysing the translation of multilingual texts, and in particular, the concept of third language (L3) as a feature of translations (TT) and their source texts (ST), which may become a problem for translators. We present a wide range of possible solution-types (Zabalbeascoa, 2000b, 2004), many of which are illustrated by examples from feature films, and their translated versions.

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