Translating business film material

A joint workshop held by Aston University and the WMG on Saturday 10 December 2011 at Aston University

Business as usual? Far from it. This workshop led by Dr Jean-Pierre Mailhac from Manchester, who trains professional translators and postgraduate students in various European countries and carries out research in applied translation studies, was exceptionally enlightening, engaging and entertaining. Throughout the day the seven postgraduate students and nine professional translators and interpreters were guided by Jean-Pierre, who has himself translated, recorded and supervised recordings of film material for a wide range of companies over the last 20 years ,through the problems and pitfalls of translating and recording business films.
The theoretical part comprised a detailed description of a pressured environment in which translators must first prepare a reasonable quote, then juggle the demands of a complex translation context in which they have to create, condense and synchronise the spoken target text with the film. Moreover, they have to do justice to a wide variety of features peculiar to the AV context, including: meaningful accents, dialects and intonation, wordplay and cultural dimensions. The presentation was enlivened by some amusing anecdotes of ruffled corporate cool, sound engineers' frustrations and mismatches between the translated text and the film material: 'the difficulty of finding the right product' as a commentary for a scene in which a lady effortlessly lifts a tin of baked beans from the shelves. In practical exercises we wrestled with problems such as recognising and conveying pronunciation, alliteration, assonance (Waggle/Busy/Buddy) and wordplay in several 5-7 minute films, covering anything from publicity for the Euro (nice one!), to hedge trimmers that were a 'cut above the rest'.
My thanks to both Jean-Pierre and Christina Schäffner of Aston University for presenting and organising the workshop, also to all those professionals and students who attended and helped make this a most instructive and enjoyable day.
Jean Darvill 13 December 2011

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