Translating culture-specific items in films: the case of interlingual and intersemiotic translation

Loukia Kostopoulou

Punctum, 1(2): 53-67, 2015
DOI: 10.18680/hss.2015.0015


Translation is said to be a double act of communication involving both a hermeneutic and a rhetorical dimension. It also involves one or more cognitive acts (Sonesson 2014). In this sense, the translator is both the interpreter of a text and the creator of a new one (ibid.). He or she may ‘adapt to the sender of his first act of communication or to the receiver of his second act of communication − or some combination of this’ (ibid.). Both the activity of translating and translation as the result of this activity are closely related to the notion of culture. Torop posits that ‘[c]ulture operates largely through translational activity’ in the sense that by the inclusion of new texts culture can both innovate itself and ‘perceive its specificity’. In this paper I examine the specificity of films as a medium in which the translator mediates between languages and cultures. Film subtitles involve not only interlingual but mainly intersemiotic translation, where the visual message complements the verbal one and is sometimes preponderant. The research is based on the examination of culture-specific items (CSIs) in Tassos Boulmetis’ film Πολίτικη Κουζίνα/ A Touch of Spice (2003) and its English subtitles. The theoretical framework for this study is Aixelá’s proposed translation strategies for the transfer of CSIs and the parameter of Polysemiotics proposed by Pedersen.

KEYWORDS: Audiovisual translation;  Interlingual subtitling; Intersemiotic translation; Culture-specific items;  Translation strategies; Polysemiotics
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