[CFP] Rewind and Fast Forward: Past, present and future scenarios in audiovisual translation

11-13 October 2023

What do silent film intertitles and TV docu-fiction pop-up captions have in common with WhatsApp and Twitter text alerts? What do multiple language versions in the era of film’s early sound and today’s Netflix in-house multilingual dubbing share in terms of challenges and problematic issues? What were the concerns of silent film actors when sound was first introduced in cinematic productions? Could their worries be comparable to the fears of live-action actors with respect to the increasing quality and endless creative potential of CGI films? Did the concerns of Kodak film workers when digital filming was introduced resemble those of the dubbing industry in connection to machine translation, artificial intelligence and cloud dubbing? What does the past have to say about the present and, above all, the future of creative media industries and audiovisual translation? This conference will tackle these and similar research questions and will provide a space for discussion and debate on the role and function of translators in the encounter/ clash between tradition and innovation, between technology and human translation, between individual and collective translation practices. The symposium will explore the interaction between human and computer-assisted translation in the era of Machine Translation, Artificial Intelligence and Cloud Dubbing and it will consider their impact on translation quality as well as translators’ life quality.

Research on Audiovisual Translation (AVT) has undergone exponential growth in the last 20 years, within the relatively young discipline of Translation Studies. Linguistic as well as cultural adaptation have been explored through different language combinations and across various media and screens, such as cinema, television, internet. Research on AVT today spans from descriptive case studies, based on the pragmatic, linguistic and translational aspects of AVT practices, to comprehensive works on methodological and theoretical issues (Baccolini, Bollettieri Bosinelli and Gavioli 1994; Chaume and Agost 2001; Gambier 1996; Gambier 2003; Gambier and Gottlieb 2001; Chiaro, Heiss and Bucaria 2008; Díaz-Cintas 2009; Pérez González 2014; Gambier and Ramos Pintos 2016). Multimodal corpus-based research projects (Baños, Bruti and Zanotti 2013; Bruti and Pavesi 2008; Bruti 2009; Pavesi 2013; Soffritti 2019). Seminal works on the didactics of audiovisual translation (Díaz-Cintas 2007; Neves 2008) have also proven to be fruitful areas of research. Encyclopaedic and companion books include more and more entries referring to AVT related topics (Gottlieb in Baker 1998; Chiaro 2009; Pérez González 2019). Starting with traditional AVT modes like dubbing and subtitling (Chaume 2012; Díaz-Cintas 2010, 2013), continuing with new translation modes such as simil-sync (Sileo 2018; Rossato 2020), and more accessible translation modes such as respeaking (Romero-Fresco 2011), subtitling for the deaf- and-hard of hearing (Neves 2019), and audio-description for the visually impaired (Maszerowska, Matamala, Orero 2014; Perego 2016), AVT modes have received increasing scholarly attention within the field of Translation Studies over the last two decades (Munday 2016, Valdéon 2022). More recently, the boom of the internet-based phenomena of fansubbing and fandubbing, and an escalating interest for the impact of technological innovation and artificial intelligence on AVT practices, have caused a rise in the study of cloud-based forms of collaborative translation practices (Baños 2019; Bolaños-García-Escribano, Díaz-Cintas and Massidda 2021), and of the interaction between humans and machines in AVT practices (Volk 2008; Hu Et al. 2020). Much has already been written and said about AVT, yet, some research gaps still need to be filled. Apart from a few exceptions which deal with the diachronic evolution of AVT practices and phenomena (O’ Sullivan and Cornu 2019; Ranzato and Zanotti 2019; Mereu Keating and O’ Sullivan 2021; Bosseaux 2019; Perego and Pacinotti 2020) most of current research, as well as international conferences devoted to AVT, have a prominently synchronic focus and that, in our view might be a shortcoming of the field. It could be argued that the tendency to look at present scenarios through a magnifying glass can lead to losing sight of the bigger picture.

This conference sets out to bring a broader perspective to the development of audiovisual translation, through a consideration of historical practices and their influence on the contemporary context. It is hoped that this will enable AVT researchers and the industry to have greater insight into future developments in the field. On top of this, the need for AVT research to move beyond its comfort zone and engage in a more interdisciplinary dialogue has been pointed out, among others, by Pérez González (2019: 2). This conference hence aims to widen the research horizons of AVT to include not only Media and Television Studies, but also Localization and Computer Science, Translation Technology and Machine Translation. Historical accounts of AVT which takes into consideration the transformations that have occurred in both in the visual and aural sphere of audiovisual texts and in the technological domain are still underrepresented threads of research. This conference sets out to take stock of the impact that technological advances have had on AVT practices in a very long time span. Following the work of Díaz-Cintas and Massidda (2019), who traced a diachronic trajectory between the early days of cinema and Web 2.0 translation solutions, it aims to zoom in on similarities and differences between early days of screen translation and today’s most innovative collaborative and cloud-based practices in AVT. It also explores how AVT has evolved through a century to respond to changes in the media and television domains. Lastly, the conference will address the topic of AVT in relation to the significant changes that have affected the relationship between audiovisual texts and their audiences in time (Napoli 2010). The rise of social media and the range of devices now available to AVT consumers are providing audiences with more choice and control in terms of when, where, and how they consume their media. For the very first time, audiences are provided with communicative tools that enable them not only to express their opinion, but also to become producers and broadcasters of their own audiovisual contents (Napoli 2010: xi) through platforms like YouTube and TikTok for example. Bucaria (forthcoming 2023) argues that audience empowerment and increased access to television content’s source language(s) in countries such as Italy, for instance, have increased opportunities for audiences to choose their preferred translation mode, leading to an increased audience demand for quality translation.

• Humor and AVT: a diachronic perspective;
• AVT and Identity representation: past and current trends;
• AVT and Gender representation: past and current trends;
• AVT of nonfictional products: past and current trends;
• Music and AVT: past and current trends;
• Advertising and AVT: past and current trends;
• Subtitling for the deaf and hard of hearing: past and current trends;
• Audio description for the visually impaired from past to present day: an ever-changing scenario;
• Audiovisual translation and the popularization of specialized discourse;
• The evolution of television industry and its impact • on AVT practices;
• AVT and audience(s): perception, reception, consumption;
• AVT and videogame/web localization: old and new synergies;
• Collaborative practices in AVT: past and current trends;
• New technologies and new trends in audiovisual translation;
• The future of audiovisual translation: exploring new media and formats;
• Artificial intelligence (AI) and audiovisual translation (AVT);
• Quality issues and quality assessment in AVT;
• Ethical and economic issues involved in the expansion of AI in AVT practices.

For more details, please visit: https://www.unive.it/pag/fileadmin/user_upload/scuole/SELISI/documenti/2023_07_12-campus_treviso_call_for_paper_.pdf