Audiovisual translation is a branch of translation studies concerned with the transfer of multimodal and multimedial texts into another language and/or culture. Audiovisual texts are multimodal inasmuch as their production and interpretation relies on the combined deployment of a wide range of semiotic resources or modes. Major meaning-making modes in audiovisual texts include language, image, music, colour and perspective.
By comparing adaptations with the texts on which they are based, it is possible to elaborate a selective list of the ways (or modes) in which adaptations are carried out, the motivations (or conditions) for the decision to adapt, and the limitations (or restrictions) on the work of the adapter.
One of the most fascination things about exploring the history of translation is that it reveals how narrow and restrictive we have been in defining our object of study, even with the most flexible of definitions.
To comprehend it as mode one must go back to the original, for that contains the law governing the translation: its translatability. The question of whether a work is translatable has a dual meaning. Either: will an adequate translator ever be found among the totality of its readers? Or, more pertinently: does its nature lend itself to translation and, therefore, in view of the significance of the mode, call for it? In principle, the first question can be decided only contingently; the second, however, apodictically. Only superficial thinking will deny the independent meaning of the latter and declare both questions to be of equal significance.
In the appreciation of a work of art or an art form, consideration of the receiver never proves fruitful. Not only is any reference to a certain public or its representatives misleading, but even the concept of an “ideal” receiver is detrimental in the theoretical consideration of art, since all it posits is the existence and nature of man as such. Art, in the same way, posits man’s physical and spiritual existence, but in none of its works is it concerned with his response. No poem is intended for the reader, no picture for the beholder, no symphony for the listener.
Can we or should we be indifferent to the fact that this essay about the difference that translation makes is itself a kind of “free” translation? Dose it matter that, under a quite different title, the first version of these remarks was composed, presented, eventually revised, and published?