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As the subtitle indicates, this volume, part of the Benjamins Translation Library Series, offers the reader a comprehensive overview of the current state of AVT (audiovisual translation) as well as a detailed description of the work carried out in this area of research at the University of Bologna’s Department of Interdisciplinary Studies in Translation, Languages and Cultures.

The book consists of a preface and an introduction that contextualize the 15 essays included in the publication—essays developed from presentations made at an international conference held in the fall of 2005 in the city of Forlì, Italy, precisely on the topic of screen translation. Ten of the authors are from Italian universities—five from the University of Bologna and five from the universities of Pavia, Naples, Perugia, Macerata, and Trieste—while the remaining authors are affiliated with other European universities, namely Barcelona (Spain), London (United Kingdom), Oviedo (Spain), Stockholm (Sweden), and Turku (Finland). The ample bibliography (27 pages), the filmography (three pages), and an appendix that lists some 30 pertinent websites make Between Text and Image a valuable reference tool as well as a compelling demonstration of current methodologies and heuristics applied to a fast growing discipline in its own right.

The contributions, which are indeed significant, are divided into two parts. The first deals with electronic databases and corpora, such as Forlix I (Forlì Corpus of Screen Translation) and INTCA (Interjecciones Català-Anglès), an electronic dictionary of interjections in English and Catalan. This section of the book discusses the ICT (Information and Communication Technology) and linguistic approaches to the study of the audiovisual material collected in these databases. The second part deals with the ways in which screen translations are perceived by viewers and listeners, and it proposes empirical, psycholinguistic, socio-economic approaches to the analysis of the relevant data. More than an update on the state of affairs in the scientific study of screen translation, which emerged in the early part of the 1990s, the present book provides a timely and thorough examination of areas of screen translation that, in the last two decades, have been overlooked entirely or have been treated only in a schematic fashion.

The fundamental assumption of the editors of the volume is that the methodologies used in Translation Studies are not necessarily or completely transferable to this field and that, consequently, “new methodologies have to be devised in order to mirror technical constraints and peculiarities of this new form of linguistic transfer” (p. 38). To that end, the first part of the book presents the Forlix I project, an electronic collection that can be accessed in a variety of ways for the purpose of conducting an unmediated investigation of the data. The corpus consists of 30 films—in the original English, Italian, German, and French productions with subtitles or dubbing—amounting to 51 hours of fully transcribed audiovisual material, or roughly 300,000 words. The database allows the investigator to select specific domains, such as pragmatic categories, encyclopaedic entries, linguistic-cultural categories, and linguistic varieties. This digital project permits researchers to study the material contrastively, as opposed to dealing with case studies, as well as “to substantiate traditional qualitative observation with empirical data for the investigation of dubbing strategies” (p. 46). A common theme is the importance of the impact of kinetic and visual elements, such as body language, facial expression and tone, on the translation strategy adopted, in contrast to the tendency to isolate the linguistic expression from such conditioning factors. The essays in this part of the book provide effective and scientifically sound illustrations of the results that can be obtained, for example, by classifying discourse markers and illustrating “the need to produce a text which quite closely imitates spoken language” (p. 79).

The second part is dedicated, to a large extent, to the examination of dubbing of English language programs, soap operas, situation comedies, and documentaries aired on Italian television, together with the resultant phenomenon of “dubbese,” which can be defined as “the Italian spoken in all those films, cartoons, sitcoms, and any other imported foreign product, which are translated for the big and small screen” (p. 136). The purpose of the various studies conducted was to determine the degree of viewer sensitivity to the translation of sociolects and idiolects, to the quality or naturalness of the translations, and to the perceived strategies adopted by the translators. These empirical studies generated some very interesting results; for instance, the determination that “the attitudes of Italian TV viewers toward alternative methods of translating filmic products are changing” (p. 146), that the language used in dubbed products “is considered completely separate from spoken Italian, and that no attempt is made to bring the two closer together” (p. 163), and that the Italian version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer “alters many aspects of the show, ranging from its innovative language to the way in which it represents gender identities” (p. 194). The authors of this section of the book engage with the concepts of “domestication,” “localization,” and “foreignization,” as well as the related notion of the translator’s “visibility,” a notion famously explored by Lawrence Venuti in The Translator’s Invisibility: A History of Translation (New York, Routledge, 1995).

In conclusion, one would have to agree with the statement that, “audiovisual translation is a field that has been growing in significance in recent decades and many young, enterprising scholars are directing their interest and efforts to the analysis of audiovisual programs” (p. 5). This excellent publication should go a long way to enhancing the development of the field in terms of both breadth and empirical rigour.