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Exactly what is Translation?

Translation is the communication of meaning from 1 language (the source) to another language (the target). Translation refers to written info, whereas interpretation refers to oral or sign-language communication amongst speakers of different languages. The goal of translation is to convey the initial tone and intent of a message, taking into account cultural and regional differences between source and target languages.
  • Translation has been utilized by humans for centuries, since the appearance of written literature. Modern-day translators use sophisticated tools and technologies to perform their work, and rely heavily on software applications to simplify and streamline their tasks.
  • Because of the laboriousness of the translation| procedure, endeavours have been made, with various levels of success, to automate translation or to mechanically help the human translator. The rise of the web has fostered a world-wide market for translation expert services and has facilitated "language localization".
  • The translator will need good knowledge of both the source and the target language, along with a top linguistic sensitivity as he should transmit the writer's intention, original thoughts and opinions in the translated version as precisely and faithfully as possible. When expressions are translated directly into simpler ones in the same language it is known as Rewording and para-phrasing.

What's Audiovisual Translation

AVT - this means AudioVisual Translation: opposite to common assumption, It's not only about movies (this is the area of movie or screen translation), but also about Television, computer games, video games, videoclips and even theatre plays - anything that may be multimodal and contains multiple modes of reception, for instance, not only the visible one, and also the aural one.

Audiovisual Translation Modes


This is the oldest of all AVT modes. The initial types of today's subtitles were introduced just after the start of cinema, in the form of intertitles, texts appearing between the frames in silent films. In 1927, when sound films appeared, so called talkies, first subtitles emerged. The 1st sound film, The Jazz Singer, created the requirement for translating it for foreign audiences: in 1929 the film had its premieres in France and Italy. It's popular predominantly in English-speaking countries, whereas in Poland only 8.1% of viewers prefer this mode.


Dubbing is the replacement of a soundstripe in 1 language by the vernacular dialect of a certain locality. When a film, TV series or movie in an alien language is dubbed (versioned), the translation of a dialogue is meticulously matched to the lip synchronization of the entertainer.

  • The dub must be carefully timed and synchronized to match the speaker’s lips, meaning, actions, and even intonations. This is to ensure that it’s not too obvious and distracting to people watching the video. This is often referred to as lip-sync dubbing, also ‘replacement’ of a soundtrack, in the video industry.

Voice-over is an off-camera technique within video production in which a recorded voice is placed over the production. This could be the narration over a documentary or simple vocals on a within videoaudio production .

  • Dubbing (re-voicing) and voice over differ most significantly in terms of their noticeability. Voice-over is meant to serve a creative storytelling purpose, as is often the case in narrative film, or a more direct translation purpose, such as in documentaries. Conversely, the most effective dubbing is the kind that goes unrecognized by the viewers. Whether it’s relaying dialogue in a native tongue. or replacing unusable on-set sound, good dubbing is "imperceptible" to the ear listening to it.

A number of the typical characteristics that define audiovisual translation are speech and changing registers:

  • Speech. With this characteristic we make reference to the capability to symbolize a previously translated natural and spontaneous dialogue. It may sound easy, but it's not. What's logical to one person in a certain context may appear totally out of place for another person. For this reason, a translator should have the ability to transfer written language to the screen without adding strange expressions or demanding an unreasonable, unnatural effort on part of the character who is speaking.
  • Changing registers. Contrary to the other specialized forms, audiovisual translation is characterized by suffering from changes in registers. Instead of working on a well-defined topic we are confronted with a great variety of possible registers. Among these are children's programs, detective series, horror movies or documentary films on nature. One of audiovisual translation's advantages is that it permits the translator to understand something new about any possible topic every day. That is why it is not surprising that translators often have a wide and pretty broad cultural and general knowledge.

Audiovisual translation checklist

  • Have localisation in mind when creating the content. Avoid using visual metaphors, as these may possibly not be translatable into all languages. Some flags or animals may have really strong meanings in some cultures, watch out for this when creating your video content!
  • Keep all versions of the files. Original video files, source files for images and script need to be kept at hand in order to save on localisation costs. Keep separate voice, music and image tracks.
  • Avoid too much on-screen text. Unless you are planning to replace all on-screen text, try and avoid it as much as possible. If subtitles are used, on-screen text will have to be replaced, or the information may be lost, as there may be not enough room to show subtitles for the recording and on-screen text. If revoicing is employed, on-screen text will need to be replaced or subtitled, meaning that another technique needs to be used.
  • Define your audience well.This can help you choose the very best video localisation technique to be utilized. Select the most appropriate solution to be useful for localisation. Subtitling, dubbing, voiceover, narration, free commentary… There are a number of techniques to pick from depending on the target audience, intent behind the video, the medium where it is going to be displayed, budget, etc. With regards to the impact and desirable message to be conveyed, you might want to think about creating content from scratch tailored for that specific market.
  • If you are using subtitles, focus on SEO. Using subtitles, you can insert keywords that will help your video reach to more users. To ensure the right keywords are being used in the translation, ensure you do keyword research and give it to your translation partner to insert the keywords in the subtitles. If you're doing dubbing or voiceover, ensure that you're utilizing the right voice. Don't assume that the emotions expressed by a voice are going to be the same ones as in the ones in your culture. Tone and pitch are very different in every language
  • Work with professionals. Uset an agency that will provide support and guidance for the video localisation. It is really beneficial to get your audiovisual assets localised, but it can be very detrimental to your brand if you do not get it right.

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