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Professor in charge: Giovana Cordeiro Campos (UFF/LABESTRAD)

Translation for subtitling is part of the Audiovisual Translation (AVT) area, comprising the translation of an oral text (in the case of ENCIDIS, in Brazilian Portuguese) that is translated as a written text (in the case of ENCIDIS, to English). For the production of subtitles, factors such as the audiovisual product spectator’s reading speed, time/space synchrony, speech speed, the maximum number of characters per line of subtitles, screen space, among others, must be considered, requiring from the translator/subtitler essential summarizing skills. Like any other human achievement, translation for subtitling is constituted from the socio-historical and political-ideological conditions of the time and place of its production, which will materialize the possible “choices” of the subject who translates/subtitles. As to the Encyclopedia, the characteristic of an academic production is added to the orality of the speeches, which also aims at the dissemination of science.

In our role as translators/subtitlers, but language researchers as well, the questions that move us in the translation into English are: should we translate/subtitle following the rules of scientific writing, which advocates fluency, clarity and objectivity and, with them, a more domesticating strategy? Should we privilege synthesis and simplification, the two main characteristics of translation for subtitling? Or, on the other hand, as Brazilian translators/subtitlers who work in an academic translation laboratory – Labestrad/UFF –, should we choose a translation that somehow identifies the text as Brazilian by using a foreignizing strategy to the eyes of the subtitles’ receiving conditions of production? Understanding academic research as a space for experiencing and the possibility of resistance to the status quo, we have chosen a path in which both translation approaches could be somehow, considered.

The main theoretical framework of the English team is related to Translation Studies. We start, among others, from concepts such as rewriting, by Lefevere (1992), who considers translation a new writing, shaped by social, historical, political and ideological contingencies that permeate the conditions of its production. As to ENCIDIS translation, the subtitle text is another text, a rewriting shaped by the conditions of its production, which are the academic conditions of production. The university is not only an environment favorable to reflection and the potential subversion of established values, but also a space created to train critical professionals, hence the observance of subtitling rules as well, which are based on different studies and practices. Lefevere also proposes the concept of patronage, according to which the acceptance of an order/sponsorship implies the translator’s alignment with the patron’s ideology (the client). As to the translation of ENCIDIS, it means considering both the theorization of Pêcheux’s French Discourse Analysis (the area of expertise to be translated and the theoretical-methodological framework for the construction of the Encyclopedia), according to which the way speech is produced (about Discourse Analysis and about the researcher) is relevant, and equally noteworthy is the observation of the project’s science dissemination purpose, which outlines the objective of each video-recording to be viewed and understood (the issue of acceptability).

Two other important concepts are foreignization – a translation strategy proposed by Venuti (1986, 1995, 1998) by which the translator, in a political gesture, resists and maintains cultural differences in the target text. That strategy may cause an estranging feeling to the readers, and as a result, emphasize the visibility of translation and the translator – and domestication – a strategy of assimilation, removing the difference in favor of a more fluent translation shaped by the taste and acceptability of the recipient audience. Venuti proposes such concepts to discuss how the criterion of fluency, based on the belief in the transparency of language and consumability, eliminates intercultural dialogue. For the Encyclopedia, we propose a reformulation of what Venuti proposes, since, in our work, the translators/subtitlers are Brazilian Portuguese native speakers translating into a foreign language: English. So, in our subtitling translation project domesticating is to translate into English fluently, so that the target text seems to have been originally written in English. Foreignizing, on the other hand, is to leave traces of the text’s origin – in ENCIDIS case the origin is Brazil – by choosing terms and even weird or unusual syntax to the translation recipient audience. In order to achieve that effect, we sometimes leave repetitions, circumlocutions, hesitations, intercalations, etc. purposefully, since they were present in the researchers’ formulation, leaving stumbles for the spectators, and thus marking the text as foreign (Brazilian).

After studies and research, we have chosen to use a free software – Subtitle Workshop – and selected as parameters the speed of 17cps (characters per second) and the standard of up to 37 characters per line, with potential to reach 40-41 characters at specific moments, because the videos present expertise topics in the area and they are published on the internet, when the viewers may pause the presentations. In the case of longer subtitles, we use the criterion of compensation (using shorter subtitles before and after the longer subtitle). We translate and subtitle directly on the program and the process can be summarized as follows: i) the video-recordings are translated and subtitled individually or in pairs; ii) a collective review is carried out by the entire English team, under the guidance of Professors Giovana Campos and Vanessa Hanes; iii) an external terminological review is carried out by Professor Beatriz Caldas; iv) the changes suggested by the external reviewer are discussed by each team; v) the subtitle files are sent to the LAS for later publication on the ENCIDIS website. During the process, glossaries are also built in Portuguese/English for each video-recording as an instrument to record the conceptual and terminological research that constituted the translation choices of terms and specific constructions and a possible source of consultation for later works.

Let’s take some brief examples to illustrate the translation and subtitling procedures carried out by the English team. In the first chart we exemplify the use of domestication and foreignization strategies in two legend segments. In the second, we contrast the two translation strategies for the same speech segment:

Gesto – Pedro de Souza (UFSC)

Source text



[a palavra ‘gesto’] é definida como ato que é tomado no nível simbólico.

00:00:30,467 –> 00:00:32,904

and means act

00:00:34,471 –> 00:00:37,724

taken at the level of the symbolic.





* domestication: the option for means marks the use of the active voice instead of the passive voice, which is one of the rules of scientific writing in English, and it also represents the synthesis and simplification used in subtitling. Such a choice still implies a reduction in the number of characters and, therefore, compliance with the rule on reading speed.

* foreignization: The reason to keep the term is related to the understanding that the verb form “take” and the noun form “take” are conceptually relevant to Discourse Analysis, especially considering the strand developed in Brazil (the Brazilian Discourse Analysis way of saying). keep taken even though there are quotes in English that omit the term and more characters are used. There was no observance of the rule of synthesis nor the use of already established translations (which omit the term: “act at the level of the symbolic”).


Ideology and Electronic NetworkLucília Maria Abrahão de Souza (USP)

Source text




Para a análise do discurso – AD, uma teoria materialista do sentido e da linguagem e da produção de sentido, a noção de ideologia é uma noção fundamental.

00:00:24,893 –> 00:00:26,662

In Discourse Analysis (DA),

00:00:26,782 –> 00:00:31,278

a materialist theory of language and production of meaning,

00:00:31,479 –> 00:00:35,250

ideology is a fundamental concept.





*chosen strategy: foreignization

In the last subtitle, we have decided to privilege Portuguese, and the researcher’s utterance as well, creating an unusual sequence by avoiding a more direct order and using an apposition, quite uncommon in subtitles in English. So, the interlocutor’s emphasis was kept in her utterances, also quite visually marked in her speech by means of expressive gestures.

S utterance as well

The notion of ideology is essential to discourse Analysis (DA)

a materialist theory of language and production of meaning





* possible domestication

We might have chosen a more fluent translation, as in the subtitles on the side. In this case, we have a more direct, more “objective” formulation, closer to the context of the target language (English), not only regarding the rules of scientific writing, but also, the subtitling simplification.

Based on the readings and the translation and subtitling work carried out, we believe there must be an analysis of issues of power that constitute the processes of scientific writing in Brazil and in the world, as well as their translations, in different modalities. And for that purpose, we need to reconsider the language conceptions that cross these ways of understanding translation and the production of meanings in the scientific area.

Labestrad – Laboratório de Estudos da Tradução da UFF
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