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How do you become a good audiovisual translator?

A good audiovisual translator must be very familiar with at least two languages and cultures.

Their job is not dissimilar to that of a cultural mediator.

What is audiovisual translation?

Audiovisual translation involves translating audiovisual dialogue, i.e., TV shows, cartoons, documentaries, and films. Check out the main features of audiovisual translation below.

Well-connected and concise

Translated dialogue must maintain its connection to the images on screen while being short and concise, as subtitles often have to line up with the words spoken on screen.

As professionals working with Eurotrad are well aware, translators producing subtitles for audiovisual content have to pay close attention to line length and the average reading speed. The aim is to make subtitles effective and easy to read.

Immediacy and popularity

Audiovisual translation must be easy for a wide audience to use. Sloppily translated or clunky jokes, or the use of confusing language can distract viewers, or put them off altogether.

What does an audiovisual translator do?

Audiovisual translators translate dialogue from a source into a target language while respecting the characteristics of the media format in use.

They must also ensure all cultural references are understandable, making sure that foreign audiences are able to comprehend and appreciate them.

In addition, audiovisual translators must be aware of modern approaches to the relationships between different cultures.  For example, in the 1980s, translators tended to replace elements that were too foreign with similar but more understandable alternatives. For example, translators might have replaced a joke about baseball with one about football.

Today, we tend to respect the audiovisual content’s language and culture where possible, opting to keep words and expressions that are characteristic of a certain culture in the translated dialogue.

What qualifications do you need to become an audiovisual translator?

Today, most university departments offer courses and Master's degrees in audiovisual translation and subtitling.

To be accepted onto these Master's courses, you need a degree in foreign languages and must have perfect written and spoken command of your mother tongue.

The Italian Association of Audiovisual Script Translators and Adaptors (AIDAC) represents professionals working in this sector. The association was founded in 1976 and promotes the development and protection of audiovisual professionals. The sector has been categorised as a subsection of the entertainment industry since 1979.

Today, audiovisual translators are increasingly in demand as translated audiovisual content is experiencing a surge in popularity. These days, translated films and TV shows are far more in demand than translated novels.

In addition, audiovisual content is undergoing profound changes and is evolving to align with modern times and social media. Creating subtitles for this kind of content is not only advisable but often necessary to ensure it is effective and has the potential to go viral.

Redazione Eurotrad

September 7, 2022

Redazione Eurotrad

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