Dissertation Topic/question Help for Screen Translation MA
Thread poster: Mands

Mands
United Kingdom
French to English
+ ...
Mar 8, 2015

Hi allicon_eek.gif)

I'm doing an extended subtitling project for my MA dissertation and could do with help narrowing down my topic. The project consists of doing about 300 subtitles and a 10,000 word essay.

I plan to do it on stand up comedy.

So, I will subtitle a clip or multiple clips of French stand-up into English, and the essay will talk about the difficulties of translating verbally expressed humour, and a commentary on the choices I've made in the clip(s).

However, when it comes to formulating a decent title and a more centred focus for it, I'm at a loss!

I've also yet to settle on a sketch to subtitle. I love stuff like Gad Elmaleh's L'autre c'est moi, but I think the translation of it might not be challenging enough to merit a high mark (I'm aiming for a mark of 70+ really).

Any ideas or tips you might have will be very welcome!


 

Max Deryagin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 23:12
Member (2013)
English to Russian
Well, let's see Mar 8, 2015

Mands wrote:

Hi allicon_eek.gif)

I'm doing an extended subtitling project for my MA dissertation and could do with help narrowing down my topic. The project consists of doing about 300 subtitles and a 10,000 word essay.

I plan to do it on stand up comedy.

So, I will subtitle a clip or multiple clips of French stand-up into English, and the essay will talk about the difficulties of translating verbally expressed humour, and a commentary on the choices I've made in the clip(s).

However, when it comes to formulating a decent title and a more centred focus for it, I'm at a loss!

I've also yet to settle on a sketch to subtitle. I love stuff like Gad Elmaleh's L'autre c'est moi, but I think the translation of it might not be challenging enough to merit a high mark (I'm aiming for a mark of 70+ really).

Any ideas or tips you might have will be very welcome!


I think you find it difficult to narrow down the topic because stand-up comedy isn't that much different from some other comedy genres from the point of view of interlingual subtitling — and subtitling comedy shows has been researched thoroughly in the past decades: domestication vs foreignisation; strategies for translating word play, puns, culture-bound references, metaphors (including visual metaphors) etc.

If you want an excellent mark, what you need to do is find a stand-up show that presents a challenge for the subtitler and then pinpoint and categorize the translation/subtitling crisis points and investigate the strategies for dealing with them. The less explored in the existing literature the TCPs are, the better.

[Edited at 2015-03-08 18:41 GMT]


 

Elizabeth Tamblin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:12
Member (2012)
French to English
. Mar 8, 2015

Your course director should be able to point you in the direction of a tutor who can help you to narrow down your topic. That was the case when I did my MA at Bristol.

 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 02:12
Chinese to English
Let the content guide you Mar 9, 2015

I don't think the intrinsic difficulty/easiness of the text you translate affects your mark. It's the way you write about it: demonstrate that you're applying techniques you've learned, and discourse on the difficulties encountered, including the categories that Max mentioned.

I struggled enormously with finding the theme for my dissertation, but in the end it has to be about the content. I took some texts I was interested in, did the translation (or at least a draft), then thought about what issues I'd actually spent the most time thinking about and working on during the process. Once I let that happen, it was surprisingly easy: two issues popped out of the text, and there was easily enough interest in them to fill the 10,000 word quota. (In my case it was a particular grammatical construction, and the use of rhetorical effects.)

For comedy, I'd imagine timing to be a major issue - an extra complication on top of the already difficult matter of subtitle timing. But you really have to find it in the text if you're going to spend 3 months (or whatever) writing about it.


 

Mands
United Kingdom
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Much appreciated! Mar 9, 2015

Thank you so much for your responses so far, really helpfulicon_smile.gif

@Max, I do think stand-up is different to other comedy as it's often a comedian presenting a monologue to a live audience, rather than actors bouncing off one another. Also, despite it being scripted, it's often presented as though it is spontaneous speech. I agree with the rest of what you're saying though, and am just trying to pin point that TCP-full show!

@Elizabeth, we're expected to choose our topic first and will then be assigned a supervisor/tutor who has a good amount of knowledge in our chosen field.

@Phil, we're expected to choose a challenging text to test ourselves and show how we would overcome such challenges. There is even a section on the choice of text in the mark scheme. Even if I wrote a good piece to go with it I couldn't really expect anything more than a merit.

I've found out that I'm allowed to cut up several sketch shows and splice them together rather than having a continuous run of one show, so I could specifically choose difficult parts, so long as there was some form of continuity.

Its probably possible just to have a title along the lines of 'Strategies for subtitling humour in sketch shows' or something, I just feel there must be a more inspiring way to put it!

Anyway, I guess I just need to keep watching lots of sketch shows 'til I find the one(s)!


 

Richard Foulkes  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:12
German to English
+ ...
Eddie Izzard Mar 9, 2015

When I was doing my dissertation a while ago, Eddie Izzard was just starting to do stand-up in French. One of my ideas was to do the dissertation on stand-up and contact him for an interview but I couldn't pluck up the courage. I wish I'd done that rather than what I did, which was to transcribe the entire French subtitles of an English film then analyse the translation issues.

Not sure if that's relevant for you since Izzard's a native English speaker performing in French (and other languages) but just thought I'd throw it out there in case my doomed idea gives you any inspiration!

Good luck with the dissertation.


 

Max Deryagin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 23:12
Member (2013)
English to Russian
Was what first came to my mind as well Mar 9, 2015

Richard Foulkes wrote:

When I was doing my dissertation a while ago, Eddie Izzard was just starting to do stand-up in French. One of my ideas was to do the dissertation on stand-up and contact him for an interview but I couldn't pluck up the courage. I wish I'd done that rather than what I did, which was to transcribe the entire French subtitles of an English film then analyse the translation issues.

Not sure if that's relevant for you since Izzard's a native English speaker performing in French (and other languages) but just thought I'd throw it out there in case my doomed idea gives you any inspiration!

Good luck with the dissertation.


He sometimes adds bits in French to his stand-ups in English, so maybe, instead of working on one show, Mands could find all Izzard's bits in French and investigate strategies for subtitling them in the context of an English stand-up.

Eddie also has full shows in French — that could also be an interesting thing to look into. He is fairly fluent in French but still not bilingual, so there may be challenges in subtitling his French shows.


 

Richard Foulkes  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:12
German to English
+ ...
Exactly Mar 9, 2015

Max Deryagin wrote:
Eddie also has full shows in French — that could also be an interesting thing to look into. He is fairly fluent in French but still not bilingual, so there may be challenges in subtitling his French shows.


Yeah that's more what I was referring to so it would throw up discussion about the importance of non-verbal cues, intonation, timing, etc. in the performance of comedy in a second language over the quality of the translation of the material itself. Eddie is probably one of the more extreme examples of 'it's not what you say but how you say it' in comedy.

So, if the role of a 'normal' translator is to translate meaning rather than words, then the translation of words is arguably far less important in comedy because the non-verbal elements are more important than in conventional communication. I really wish I'd done that rather than transcribing and analysing two entire film scriptsicon_smile.gif.


 


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