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Subtitling wit: the case of "Ridicule"

Vanderschelden, Isabelle (2002) Subtitling wit: the case of "Ridicule". Studies in French cinema, 2 (2). pp. 109-121. ISSN 1471-5880

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Abstract

Subtitled films are often dismissed as unsatisfactory on the grounds that they contain, at best, inaccuracies, ellipses and omissions, or at worst, that they are misleading, distracting and discouraging foreign spectators. More generally, subtitles are often associated with translation loss and untranslatability. This article uses the case of the English version of a successful French period film, Ridicule (Leconte 1996), to raise a number of issues relating to subtitling. Beyond the specific problems encountered in this special type of translation and the various strategies adopted, it considers the common assumptions of the foreign public and critics, and analyses through specific examples to what extent these are founded. The examples chosen focus on style, register, play on word, humour and cultural references.

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