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University of the Basque Country thesis on audiovisual translation in the Basque language TV channel

Elhuyar Fundazioa

This release is available in Spanish.

Translating is a key cultural activity in the case of minority languages such as Euskara - the Basque language. The lack of autochthonous creation in certain areas of the language makes translation a vital element not only for its development and normalisation but also for its very survival.

The PhD thesis by Mr Josu Barambones Zubiria aims to fill a lacuna in the field of audiovisual translation into Basque. His work is entitled Audiovisual translation in ETB-1: a descriptive study of TV programmes for children and young people.

The thesis focused on the programmes not directly produced by the ETB-1 (Basque language) TV channel and broadcast throughout the year 2006, special emphasis being placed on programmes for children and young people which were dubbed in Basque during that period, given that this public broadcaster has clearly committed itself to this audiovisual genre.

Translated texts vs original ones

The most novel part of the thesis is perhaps the comparison of the linguistic models used in texts translated into Basque with those of the original Basque text. As a result of this comparison, Mr Barambones concluded that, at a phonetic level, both the texts dubbed in Basque and the original comply with the norms set out by Euskatlzaindia (the Academy of the Basque Language) regarding the correct pronunciation in Euskara. However, the original text employs another kind of pronunciation - closer to the oral discourse of the spoken language.

At a lexical level - when choosing words and phrases -, a higher degree of formality was observed in the texts translated into Basque. On the other hand, the use of words and expressions in the slang of children and young people was less, perhaps because many of them mimic Spanish. Lacking in the texts translated into Basque, according to Mr Barambones, was a greater use of colloquial expressions. As regards this latter aspect, the original Basque text showed a greater variety of idioms and set phrases, thanks to which the audiovisual text gains in expressiveness. Equally notable was the creation of new expressions in the language.

At a morphological level, Mr Barambones observed that texts translated into Basque employed highly stylistic verbal expressions. This use, believes the PhD thesis author, has a clear pedagogic aim but takes away from the authenticity of the audiovisual text. Also, both texts make recourse to the familiar and colloquial manner of discourse known as hika, although its presence is much greater in the original Basque text, where most characters use it to the same extent as more neutral forms. Mr Barambones believes that this recourse is one of the main tools that Euskara has for dealing with the colloquial and spoken use of the tongue.

Finally, at a syntactic level, the texts translated into Basque show a greater degree of cohesion than the original Basque text. The original text is closer to the oral register. Both texts make ample use of exclamations and interjections, a use which contributes to maintaining narrative intensity and facilitating interrelation with the spectators.

Given the enormous importance that audiovisual translation has, it is surprising that, over the quarter of century that television in Basque has been up and running, no studies focusing on this area have been undertaken. This is why Mr Barambones hopes that the conclusions drawn from his PhD thesis will help in opening up new research perspectives within the field of audiovisual translation into Euskara, an area that is still virgin territory.


Information about the author

Mr Josu Barambones Zubiria (Vitoria-Gasteiz, 1963) is a graduate in English Philology. The Directors of his PhD thesis were Ms Raquel Merino Álvarez and Mr Ibon Uribarri Zenekorta, from the Department of English and German Philology (Translation and Interpretation), at the Faculty of Arts in the UPV/EHU campus in the Basque capital of Vitoria-Gasteiz. Mr Barambones is currently lecturing in the area of Translation and Interpretation.

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