© Michaela Fisnar-Keggler, 2010
Jorge Díaz Cintas was born in Barcelona, graduated in Modern Languages – English, German and French – at the University of Valencia, where he also obtained his doctorate in 1997 with a thesis on subtitling, the first ever written on the topic in Spain or in Spanish.
He has lived in England since 1989, teaching as an assistant and later as a visiting lecturer in several universities in London (South Bank, Kingston, London Institute). In 1994, he joined Roehampton University, where he developed a BA in Translation and an MA in Audiovisual Translation, one of the first ones in the UK. Since 2008 he’s been a Senior Lecturer in Translation at Imperial College London.
Jorge Díaz Cintas has written and edited numerous articles and books on audiovisual translation (see list at the end of this article*). Since 2002, he has been the president of the European Association for Studies in Screen Translation (ESIST) and he belongs to the editorial boards of several translation journals. He is a member of the international research groups TransMedia and Trama.
Michaela: What exactly does AVT stand for?
Jorge Díaz Cintas: From a theoretical perspective, AVT is a scholarly field of study within the wider discipline of Translation Studies. Traditionally, it was considered to be a branch of translation parallel to literary or drama translation. One of the downsides of this perception is that the whole area was equated with the translation of films and many scholars used to refer to it as Film Translation or Cinema Translation. However, this is clearly a terminological misconception. AVT cannot be categorised only in terms of the genres it deals with, i.e. films, as it is obvious that audiovisual translators work with a panoply of programmes such as documentaries, DVD extras, sitcoms, advertisements, cartoons, reality shows, etc. Nor can it be restricted to cinema, as there are many other media that also resort to AVT to make their programmes available to foreign audiences, namely but not solely television and internet.
By way of a definition, AVT is a translational practice that works with source texts that combine two communication channels, audio and visual, and in this sense it stands in contradistinction with written translation or interpreting.
As for the activities subsumed within AVT, the main traditional ones are:
In the 1990s, the field of accessibility to the media for people with sensory impairments was adopted as part of AVT and has proved to be one of the most fruitful and dynamic areas in recent years. Here, we can distinguish the following three main activities:
subtitling for the deaf and the hard-of-hearing (SDH)
audio description for the blind and the partially sighted (AD)
- sign language interpreting
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