Stylization and representation in subtitles: can less be more?

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This article considers film dialogues and interlingual subtitles from the point of view of linguistic and cultural representation, and revisits from that perspective the question of loss, as a platform for considering alternative views on the topic and broader theoretical issues. The cross-cultural pragmatics perspective and focus on viewers’ reactions that dealing with representation entails cast the question of loss in a different light and opens up avenues for alternative modes of analysis. They make room for subtitles to be construed as producing their own systems of multimodal textual representation and modes of interpretation, and for their text to be recognised as having a greater expressive and representational potential than face values might suggest. This is the argument, informed by Fowler's Theory of Mode (1991, 2000), that is taken up in the paper, and harnessed to the review of examples or observations from recent studies on subtitles, and complementary evidence from dubbing. The capacity of subtitles to produce insights into the cultures and languages represented is of particular interest, and has wider implications for the culturally instrumental functions of subtitles and translation strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-494
Number of pages16
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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