The Question of French Dubbing: Towards a Frame for Systematic Investigation

Olivier Goris
Comparative Literature, KU Leuven

In order to analyze how "international messages" such as films are appropriated by a specific target system, I studied the French dubbed versions of a number of films. This analysis revealed a set of norms which seem to be at work on various text levels in the dubbed translations: a linguistic standardization, which affects three types of language use, a naturalization strategy, in which visual synchrony plays an important role, and a strategy which aims in various ways at making the translation more explicit than the original. The presentation of this tentative set of norms proposes a first synthetic view of the policy concerning dubbing in France.

Table of contents

Contemporary mass communication has created a new cultural situation in which translations play an essential role. They make possible the reduction of the number of original messages (and thus of original senders) along with the proliferation of the received messages. This double movement, inevitable in a context of internationalized communication, implies that the various [ p. 170 ](international and local) messages are homogenized by translations, and that the production monopolies of a number of multi-national institutions are obscured (Lambert 1989: 217-218). Thus an international but apparently monolingual discourse, which tends to blur its origins, imposes itself via translations all over the world. This new, international standardization, typical of an internationalized society, naturally enters into conflict with the much older national standardization policies.

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