Talk: A functionalist approach to audio description: preliminary results of a contrastive analysis

This paper reports on the preliminary stage of a research investigating the verbal strategies for the Spanish and Italian audio descriptions for the blind and visually impaired (AD). The latter are intended as the result of a process of intersemiotic translation (Hernández-Bartolomé & Mendiluce-Cabrera 2004; Orero 2005; Benecke 2007; Bourne & Jiménez Hurtado 2007), since an audiovisual source text is transformed into a prevalently linguistic target version. The analysis will focus on the film Murder on the Orient Express. The selected corpus of scenes will be examined from the multimodal and functionalist perspectives, in order to enquire into the extent to which the AD versions manage to convey the implicit, connotative meaning of the original scenes verbally. In particular, this paper will detail the way in which the narrative components (Bandirali & Terrone 2009) and film techniques (Bordwell, Thompson & Smith 2017; Rondolino & Tomasi 2018) combine to make meaning in the film under discussion. Then, the communicative function associated with each scene will be identified by adopting Bandirali & Terrone’s (2009) theoretical framework. Finally, the describers’ selections and linguistic choices of the target texts will be classified and compared according to the taxonomy of AD techniques (Bardini 2020). The main objective of this research is to devise an alternative model for a ‘functionalist’ type of AD, which stems from the consideration of the audience’s cognitive needs and abilities at the time of producing target scripts.

Bandirali, L. & Terrone, E. (2009) Il Sistema sceneggiatura. Scrivere e descrivere i film, Torino: Lindau.
Bardini, F. (2020) “Audio description and the translation of film language into words”, Ilha do Desterro, 73(1), pp. 273-295.
Benecke, B. (2007) “Audio description: phenomena of information sequencing”, MuTra 2007 – LSP Translation Scenarios: Conference Proceedings, pp. 1-13, available at
Bordwell, D., Thompson, K., Smith, J. (2017), Film art: an introduction, 11th Edition, New York: McGraw Hill Education.
Bourne, J. & Jiménez Hurtado, C. (2007) “From the visual to the verbal in two languages: a contrastive analysis of the audio description of The Hours in English and Spanish” in Media for All: Subtitling for the Deaf, Audio Description and Sign Language, eds. J. Díaz Cintas, P. Orero, A. Remael, Amsterdam: Rodopi, pp. 174-187.
Hernández- Bartolomé, A. & Mendiluce-Cabrera, G. (2004) “Audesc: translating images into words for Spanish Visually Impaired People”, Meta, 49 (2), pp. 264-277.
Orero, P. (2005) “Audio description: professional recognition, practice and standards in Spain”, Translation Watch Quarterly, pp. 7-18.
Rondolino, G. & Tomasi, D., (2018) Manuale del film. Linguaggio, racconto, analisi. Terza edizione, Torino, UTET Università.


Day: 2020-11-20
Start time: 16:15
Duration: 00:30
Room: Clotilde Tambroni
Track: Applied Linguistics
Language: en




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