singapore by 6x4PT5


									Christopher Taylor, SSLMIT, University of Trieste

ISFC99 Singapore
Workshop 'Multimodality & Multimediality

      The first stage in the Pavia University-Trieste University collaboration on the creation of didactic
self-access computer applications was reported on in previous ISFC conferences (Beijing, Sydney,
Cardiff). This part of the project reached completion with the creating of a programme enabling the user
to analyse and translate a text by following guided explanations based essentially on the principles of
systemic-functional linguistics and discourse analysis. The text used in the prototype version was an
advertisement for Mitsubishi cars taken from the National Geographic magazine, and thus representative
of a multimedial text consisting of words in various fonts and sizes and a glossy colour photograph of a
car racing across the desert.
       The next stage in this collaboration involves the move to the analysis and translation of television
texts, initially TV commercials and soap operas. The mode of translation applied to such texts differs
from that required to translate written texts, even those accompanied by pictures, as it must take their
more complex multimedial nature into consideration. Translation and adaptation for screen purposes
usually involves one of two main techniques - dubbing or subtitling. For reasons that will be explained
later, and because of the particular nature of the texts adopted for this project, the translation component
will be based on the technique of subtitling.
      The pilot project for this stage involves the analysis, adaptation and translation of extracts from the
British soap opera 'Eastenders':

      (1) (pre-translation) TEXT ANALYSIS
      (a) a study of the cultural, sociolinguistic and psycholinguistic features of Eastenders;
      (b) a study of the dialogue of Eastenders in terms of the "written to be      spoken as if not
written" genre;
      - a consideration of the reasons why film scripts should not work as          portrayals of authentic
      - a consideration of how Eastenders does work (at least partially) in this    sense;

     a presentation of the techniques and strategies involved in subtitling as a    means of translating
multimedial texts;

     (a) the analysis and translation of selected extracts of text:
               - scene-based extracts eg; 'in the pub', 'at the doctor's';
               - mini-story line texts eg; 'Peggy's illness'.
     (b) the adaptation of said extracts for subtitling, thereby taking all other   semiotic elements into

      (4) THE (self-access) COMPUTER APPLICATION
      (a) the activation via Internet of the functional grammar strategies for     translation (based
largely on M. Halliday, 1994 and J. House, 1997) included in the original 'Mitsubishi' programme;
      (b) the presentation of the pre-translation text analysis adopting the usual interactive
Hypercontext devices - explanations, quotations, questions &         answers, etc;
     (c) the provision of internet facilities connected to data-bases and relevant web-sites eg. official
BBC, Eastenders, for consultation;
      (d) the presentation of subtitling as a multimedia translation technique     with          relevant
translation strategies, adopting the usual interactive        Hypercontext devices;
      (e) provision for the interactive translation of cohesive and coherent       extracts of text and
subsequent preparation and emission of subtitles to           accompany screen text.

                                 (1) pre-translation TEXT ANALYSIS

(a) Cultural, sociolinguistic and psycholinguistic features
        The soap opera 'Eastenders' is set in the east end of London in the fictitious suburb of 'Walford';
the map that is shown during the opening sequence (which together with the theme music provides an
extremely effective badge of identity) shows the area around the Isle of Dogs, north of the Thames - old
with some new high rise developments, rather run down but not desperately poor or dysfunctional like
certain areas south of the river, or in other British cities. However, the old east end of 'Mother Kelly's
Doorstep' no longer exists as such and the scene has moved further east than Aldgate, Petticoat Lane,
etc., the area associated with the traditional cockney, born within the sound of Bow bells. The famous
Max Bygraves song 'Fings ain't wot they used to be', now forty years old itself, can be said to sum up
this situation. The market that figures in the series seems, in its mock-up version, to be a pale
comparison of the real markets of yesteryear. Other elements (the pub, the café) remain more permanent
features. People still drink beer and sup tea now as they once did, but supermarkets and shopping malls
have stripped the market stalls of their previous status.
      'Eastenders' is a British TV soap opera, a genre whose two main aims would appear to be to
recreate a community that smacks of authenticity while at the same time create an endless series of
stories around this community in order to entertain a mass TV audience. The best TV soaps achieve this
aim (Eastenders on the BBC and its main ITV competitor Coronation Street - cf. the false glamour of
American soaps). The writers charged with creating the Eastenders environment (Lisa Evans, Chris
Murray, Gillian Richmond) present the viewer with a convincing community consisting of a varied array
of character types, many of whom appear in the episodes examined for the first stage of this project:
       - the 'wide boy' with the 'dodgy' second-hand shop;
       - the young mother with a strong character (now an established TV star, perhaps        the     most
popular with viewers):
       - the young father with a weaker character (already a second wife in his twenties);
       - the 'lad' - drinking and looking for women;
       - boys unemployed or in dead-end jobs, squatting;
       - the reformed juvenile delinquent;
       - the motherly type, wise dispenser of advice;
       - the extended Italian family, perfectly integrated;
       - the world weary older woman;
      - the girl doing her A-levels, against all the odds;
      - the excluded black girl and her respectable mother;
      - a man and his estranged children;
      - the chatty barmaid;
      - the 'scarlet' woman coming back to a hostile reception;
The Eastenders website is instructive in this regard as it contains a breakdown of all the major characters
and shows how they are interrelated, either through blood, friendship or (mis)adventure. There are
common bonds between these diverse characters eg. their often broken marriages and displaced children,
their identification with Walford (cf. the barmaid's 'up west' referring to the 'other' London), and the way
their lives intertwine.

Linguistic features
      The most easily identifiable common feature of 'Eastenders' characters is their speech patterns, a
question of socio- and psycholinguistics. "Sociolinguistics is the study of the uses of language within a
speech community and the values associated with these uses" (Nida 1996: 25). Psycholinguistics is
concerned with how social and psychological factors affect language use, how people express their
feelings, emotions, etc. and how experience is modelled through mental processes.
         The talk in Eastenders is east-end cockney, identifiable principally by the accents and by particular
lexical choices. There is much evidence of the typical features of this speech type: the glottal stop (Wo?,
go ska-ing), the omission of the initial 'h' (I've 'eard all this before - I'm not 'aving it!) and the
substitution of the 'th' sound with 'f' (Tell 'im the truf). There is much abbreviation and ellipsis ('cos', 'an
'all', 's'pose', 'wot you on about', Don't worry 'bout it'), and other typical deviations from the standard ('Of
corws', 'I ain't scared of you!', 'Wot you doin?', 'Mum don't listen'). Again the website is instructive - the
characters introduce themselves with expressions like 'Wotcha' (Ian Beales, the 'dodgy businessman')
and the variation 'Wotcher' (Barry Evans, the 'lad'). Young girl Teresa gives a typical 'Hi'.
      Moving to psycholinguistic features, there is also space for idiolect, which is indicative of
personality traits and helps to distinguish characters. For example Barry is given to pseudo-philosophical
aphorisms such as "sadly fate tends to intervene" when talking about his search for love, and
pseudo-proverbial expressions such as "why eat whelks when you can have lobster" (the choice of
whelks is not casual - this food is an important element in east-end folklore). However, he returns to 'lad'
talk when with his 'mates 'in the pub - "a really classy bird". Irene Hills, struggling with the symptoms of
the menopause and a veteran of domestic strife, shows her world weariness with an ironic "Charmed, I'm
sure" in her web-site intro.
      However, in spite of care in inserting typical language features, achieving the authenticity required
for an audience to identify totally with the characters in a soap opera is no easy task.

(b) "Written to be spoken as if not written"
      Soap opera scriptwriters, like film scriptwriters, in their quest for authenticity in producing
convincing dialogue, have to create a language that is "written to be spoken". But it is not only "written
to be spoken", it has to be "written to be performed" in simulated real-life situations and therefore
"written to be spoken as if not written". There are a number of reasons why this is a particularly difficult
task. The following provisos relate to feature film dialogue.
- in everyday conversation, much language use is formulaic, humdrum and banal, a question of
automatic systemic opting, whereas the time and space constraints of films require highly pertinent,
dramatic or intriguing exchanges; as Herbst (1994) points out, most of the language we produce orally
consists of prefabricated items - collocations, set phrases, etc., the constant repeating of memorised
'chunks' of meaning, which are difficult to reproduce in written scripts;
- actual conversation can be rather garbled with people appearing to speak at the same time, making
false starts and so on, whereas film dialogue needs to be segmented to be clearly understood;
- real dialogue is peppered with phatic devices, particularly repeated 'pleases' and 'thankyous' regardless
of whether actual requests, offers or favours are involved. Film scripts are often low on these
interpersonal items, as a more ideational (or factual) content is desired;
- in real life every individual plays a variety of roles in his or her normal activity, and although this is
precisely what a film actor is required to do, the real life role is based on a lifetime of experience,
responsibility and interaction that the scriptwriter or actor cannot easily invent, especially if the
scriptwriter is, for example, a young white male creating dialogue for an elderly black female;
- conversation reveals social, ethnic and geographical characteristics of the speakers which often add an
appreciably significant component to meaning. These consist of both communal and personal features
that scriptwriters cannot be expected to capture in their entirety;
- in ordinary dialogue an initial topic of conversation often gives way to a series of sub-topics and the
creation of different linguistic scenarios, often seeming to defy any logical progression. In a film, this
reflection of reality might be offputting to the audience and unnecessarily misleading;
- very often in film we are introduced to a conversation that has already started, we leave it before it
ends, or we miss out on certain episodes in a series. The global picture is inevitably affected;
- research has shown that, generally speaking, pauses of one second or more are rare in ordinary
conversation, while dramatic pauses in film scenes often belie this statistic;
- major film stars are often given 'good lines' showing how witty, urbane or 'streetwise' they are. Such
creative use of language is also a feature of everyday conversational exchange, and some people have
great conversational gifts, but films can tend to overaccentuate such factors. Many of Humphrey Bogart's
or Groucho Marx's quips, for example, have entered the language as set expressions;
- people never express meaning through only one channel; when speaking they also use gesture, gaze,
positioning, etc. Film audiences do not participate directly in the dialogue unfolding on the screen; they
are more or less distant observers and cannot be expected to pick up every nuance of non-verbal
- scriptwriters can always go back and check what they have said (written) and alter it in the light of
what follows. In the case of spontaneous conversation, this facility is not available.
       These provisos certainly suggest caution in assessing the genuineness of screen dialogue, but it
would seem that the TV soap opera writer, at least in some cases, is rather less bound by these
restrictions than the film writer. Indeed, 'Eastenders' challenges the above list of provisos, and works by
presenting an ongoing series of overlapping situations that create a sense of community among the
characters because they all seem to participate in everyday life and affect one other. They do and say
everyday things, which are sometimes as interesting as dramatic events (truth is stranger than fiction),
though dramatic events are introduced into the script too. Their choices of lexis and expressions are thus
predictable to the viewers, who identify with them.
      The overlapping dialogues and the repeated phatic devices do not detract from audience
enjoyment; they allow the characters to create the kind of interpersonal involvement that soaps rely on.
There is no need to concentrate meaning into a two-hour slot, as with a film, as the soap is a regular,
long-term, ongoing event (Coronation Street is now nearly forty years old!). In this way the characters do
attain a 'lifetime' of experience, as do many millions of regular viewers - in some cases the public are
unable to divorce an actor from his/her role, the character becoming real in every sense. The diverting
from one conversation to another is not disruptive as regular viewers have a long-term picture and are
used to following many plots and sub-plots at the same time. The effect of leaving and coming back to
conversations is also less disruptive over the long term, as all the loose ends are tied up eventually, and
duly discussed at regular intervals in venues like the pub, which have the function of bringing people
and their stories together. The 'good lines' that are typical of feature films are kept to a minimum as they
would spoil the familiarity effect, though they are useful in painting certain personality traits (cf. Barry).
The problem of capturing paralinguistic questions of gesture, facial movements and surrounding images
is solved to a considerable extent by much use of close-ups of individuals and groups (there are very few
'action shots'), and the repeated use of the same settings, which viewers come to know and are therefore
able to associate with particular linguistic genres eg. pub talk. The series is thus also a good indicator of
how cultures differ in verbal and non-verbal communication, in the way it presents one British
community with a reasonable degree of accuracy.

                             (2) AN INTRODUCTION TO SUBTITLING

      Subtitling has never been widely used in Italy as a translation method for feature films and
television series, and dubbing is the predominant method used, though with the advent of digital TV and
the possibility of hundreds of channels presenting programmes twenty-four hours a day in the not too
distant future, it is reasonable to assume that subtitling will receive greater consideration, if only for
reasons of cost. The European Institute for the Media predicts that Europe will be subjected to 624,000
hours of television in the year 2000, a significant proportion of which will need translating, either
through dubbing or subtitling. The producers of soap operas in particular nedd to be acreful about
costing because of the frequency of broadcasts, which at times may be on a daily basis. This genre would
therefore seem a prime candidate for subtitling. As Dries (1995: 28) says:

      The decision to opt for subtitling is often influenced less by preference than by custom and by
      financial considerations.

      As regards custom and the Italian public's acceptance of subtitles, it is interesting to observe the
experience of other countries. In Holland, for example, 82% of television viewers prefer subtitles,
especially the younger age-groups. There may be several reasons for this but there is also statistical
evidence to suggest that preference for subtitles is connected to knowledge of a foreign language. As the
spread of English language teaching goes on unabated, it is therefore reasonable to expect a growth in
preference for subtitles even in the traditional 'dubbing' countries. Referring to research carried out,
Luykens et al (1991: 128) said the following:

      It substantiated the view that there is a viable audience base on which a more flexible, innovative
      and cost effective approach towards foreign language programming can be built and that such
      approaches can find acceptance with the TV viewers over time, as evidenced by the Dutch
      longitudinal survey.

     In Britain, subtitling has long been established in the film world, but another survey reported in
Luykens et al showed that viewers showed no great preference for dubbing over subtitles even in the
case of a TV soap opera (see fig. 1). Twenty-six episodes of the French series 'Chateauvallon' were
shown on Channel Four (a minority channel) in 1987 in both dubbed and subtitled versions, and gained
viewing figures that ranged from half a million to three million. The fluctuations in these figures
depended on a number of factors (timing, the summer weather, the offerings of other channels, press
coverage, etc.), but it seemed in the final analysis, and through the findings of a questionnaire (see
transparency), that the public did not favour one technique appreciably more than the other.
Interestingly, the question as to whether the French flavour of the programme came out sufficiently,
received the same positive response for both versions.
      But what does subtitling involve? It involves transferring the characteristics of spoken dialogue to
the written mode, such that the term 'language transfer' is perhaps a more appropriate term than
translation. The distinguishing features of spoken and written language are widely discussed in the
literature of linguistics (see in particular Halliday: 1989), and include such general notions as the fact
that the spoken language is grammatically more intricate but lexically less dense, and that written
language is more nominalised compared to the dynamic, verbal nature of the spoken variant. The latter
consists of considerable improvisation and is thus marked by interjections, displays of reticence,
mistakes, self-corrections, repetitions, interruptions and other manifestations of "unplanned discourse"
(Ochs, 1979). Such macro-features apply to both English and Italian, whereas certain micro features are
language specific (eg. tag questions and tails in English, pre-placing of the object or the generalised use
of the relative pronoun 'che' in Italian) and often are not easy to match as such in translation. Giordano
(1998: 51) shows in some detail how the translation of the American soap opera 'Guiding
Light'/'Sentieri' flattens the discourse in many ways by not incorporating the features of Italian spoken
language as described, for example, by Berretta (1994). Giordano (op. cit.: 58) points, for instance, to
the non-use of general words (andare, venire, cosa) and phrasal verbs (andarsene, riuscirci). Thus written
transcriptions of spoken dialogue might be expected to betray their artificial nature, especially when
considered in terms of the various provisos mentioned earlier. This is especially true in translation where
even if the original has been carefully scripted as "written to be spoken as if not written", the subtitled
version maintains very obviously 'written' characteristics. The following example is the joke told by
Uma Thurman in Quentin Tarantino's film 'Pulp Fiction'.

     Three tomatoes are walking down the street.
     Papa, mama and baby tomato.
     Baby tomato starts lagging behind.
     Papa tomato gets really angry...
     goes back and squishes him.
     Says "Ketchup".
      La famille citron se ballade.
      Papa, mama et bébé citron.
      Bébé citron est à la traine.
      Papa citron se met en boule...
      le rejoint et l'ècrabouille
      en disant "presse-toi...
      citron pressé.

The original imitates spoken style. Note the paratactic structure, the ellipsis of pronouns ("... goes back",
"...Says"), the historic present tense and the colloquialisms (lagging, squished). The French subtitled
version captures most of these elements but features the hypotactic 'en disant', and the higher register
'rejoindre'. But it only takes one or two transgressions into the written mode to destroy the semblance of
       However, it must be said that translators very often show that they are capable of capturing
dialogue precisely "as it is spoken" and thus render the discourse as authentically as possible. A whole
series of parameters need to be borne in mind. Firstly, in spite of the often disorganised nature of spoken
discourse, all the words that are uttered need to be accounted for, just as they must be in written
translation. This does not necessarily mean that nothing should be missed out or rearranged at a
segmental level. It is the utterance that should be translated, not just the language. Words being
"accounted for" means giving due respect to the original creator of the text and what he/she intended to
convey, even if only through inference or implicature (see Grice 1975).
      Although subtitles must inevitably follow a 'blow-by-blow' sequence, hence running the risk of
losing the overall global view, the 'blows' may be line-by- line, or scene-by-scene or chunk-by-chunk. It
may be necessary to operate a trade-off between the effect of an individual line or sequence (or their
sacrifice) and keeping the audience on track in terms of the development of the wider plot. On the other
hand, concision or ommission of material in subtitles may lead to their losing much pragmatic effect.
However seemingly banal, any elements of cotext may be important in creating meaning and
maintaining cohesion. But the film translator is constrained by practical problems of time and space on
the screen which force decisions on him or her.
      Generally speaking (see transparency), subtitles must not exceed 15% of the height or 2/3 of the
width of the screen, consist of an average of about 40 characters per line (maximum 70), with no more
than 2 lines displayed at a time. Typically, these two-line exchanges form what are known as adjacency
pairs, that is question/answer, greeting/greeting, reprimand/apology, command/acceptance and so on.
Such exchanges can sometimes run into three parts (How are you?/Fine thanks/Glad to hear it) and, if
short, can be acceptably presented in three-line titles. Each line is preceded by a dash to show that the
speaker changes, whereas no dash appears if the same speaker continues the turn. Subtitles generally
appear at the bottom of the screen where there is least action and where it is usually darker (snow scenes
and the like call for darker titles). Those consisting of one line should remain on view for approx. 4
seconds (minimum 1.5 secs.) and two-line titles 6-8 seconds, with a gap of 1/4 second between changes.
The art of effecting the changes, avoiding overlap or the phenomenon of 're-reading' if a title remains on
the screen too long, is called 'spotting', and consists basically in timing the in-cues and out-cues as
accurately as possible. Short subtitles, particularly when displayed alone on one line, take relatively
longer to read, indicating that two-line subtitles are preferable to one-liners when possible. Clauses
should be divided in logical, grammatical chunks, and some effort must be made to account for lip
synchronisation. This aspect is not as important as it is in dubbing, but gross deviations leave the viewer
disoriented. Not only lip movements, but also head shaking, eyebrow raising, etc. are connected to the
articulation used by the speaker.
      The above considerations are based on an average reading speed of 150-180 words per minute, but
as this figure is of only relative value, much liberty can be taken in particular circumstances. Apart from
the fact that reading speeds vary dramatically between individuals, it has been shown that the same
people read more quickly or slowly depending on a number of factors, including tiredness or relative
interest in the subject. More interestingly, it seems that reading speed increases in relation to the level of
excitement or enjoyment a film scene creates (see Minchinton, 1997), and that it also increases in line
with a quicker rate of subtitle presentation. At times the use of longer subtitles may be dictated by the
needs of the subtext of the particular genre. For example the subtext of the genre 'detective story'
contains the notion of the providing of extensive detail leading to the extracting of important clues.
Condensing this detail can betray that subtext.
      However, the decisions the translator/adaptor makes must in any case attempt to account for the
communicative intention of the original. Even the most banal sounding chat can tell us a great deal about
the psychological nature of the characters, the immediate environment and the cultural setting.
Furthermore, conversational markers and turn-taking strategies can be indicative of social relations,
showing where the power relations lie. Certain utterances that seem irrelevant in isolation set up chains
of events and themes that affect the whole text structure of the film and thereby impose sets of
constraints on the translator.
      In Hallidayan terms, subtitles often seem to favour the ideational function of language over the
interpersonal and textual. They are informative, whereas in dialogue it is often the interpersonal that is
important, especially where nothing new is said. The actual 'content' can actually be discarded on
occasion. For example, in the Serb film 'Pre Rata' (Before the War), a satirical piece from the Tito years,
one scene consists of a group of citizens in the hands of the police who sing together to keep their spirits
up. The words of the songs are not as important as the fact that what they are singing, separately, are the
national anthems of Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia. In fact the 'localising' or 'domesticating' of these
anthems through translation, or worse still through replacement with the words of local anthems, is
indefensible in cases like these. And in such cases, subtitles are better able to transmit the required
message, by simply indicating what the characters are doing.
      Himnu, braco            The hymn, brothers             Cantiamo fratelli
                                    (they sing the old             (cantano il vecchio
                                    Serb, Croat and                        inno serbo, croato
                                    Slovene anthems)               e sloveno)

If, as is likely, it is not logistically possible to provide both sets of information, then the subtitler will
have to resign him/herself to making choices and losing some ideational or interpersonal force. The fact
that subtitles require the viewer to process words and images serially and not simultaneously, as in
dubbing, reinforces the need for this kind of choice. The translator/adapter/subtitler has always to juggle
with the cultural asymmetry that can arise from a translation of the words in a scene that otherwise
remains anchored in the source culture. Done carefully, however, he or she can make the meaning
intelligible, even familiar, to the target audience while at the same time getting them to recognise the
cultural differences that are inherent to the original.
      It is also true that well directed actors can carry a lot of interpersonal meaning without using
words, Losey's 'Death in Venice' being a good example. The visual element also allows film characters
to use a more than usual number of deictic terms when referring to actions and objects. Thus the
directing of camera manipulation also plays an important part in transmitting meaning:

     Choice of camera angle, field depth, movement and framing all contribute semiotically to a film or
     television programme.
     (de Linde & Kay, 1999: 32)

Such strategies can at times replace words and avoid an unnecessary cluttering of two mediums
competing for the visual channel, especially where ideational content is less important.
      From the textual function angle, the presentation of information from the speaker's viewpoint is
moulded in theme/rheme structures, cohesive devices and the placing of information focus, elements
that are often supported by the accompanying visual clues as to how the discourse is developing. A film
combines the meanings of the verbal and visual codes. As Kress (1985: 35) explains, in relation to a TV
news report, "the visual code operating in the text locates the viewer more precisely and more decisively
than the verbal." Thus, a close-up, a camera angle or a succession of shots and scene changes can plot
theme progressions and maintain cohesion better than hastily prepared subtitles where, for example, the
ellipsis and dislocation often effected by translators can clash with the visual markers and thus affect
meaning. Even if the titles are good, a study by d'Ydewalle and Vanderbeeken (1996) comparing the
relative importance to viewers of perceptual continuity between successive shots and narrative
continuity, confirmed that an extensive use of shot changes naturally affects the ability to follow
subtitles. This is apparent, for example, where a dialogue is going on and the camera constantly shifts
from one participant to the other. This reflects the dialogue structure visually but creates problems by
causing excessive 'deflection' from words to image on the part of the viewer, and calls for the accurate
coordination of titles between the single shots. This problem is lessened when both participants are
visible, but a worse problem arises when one of the participants is off-screen, leading to what de Linde
and Kay call a "garden path effect'' (1999: 73) as the viewer searches to identify the speaker visually.
Clearly, subtitling can only be successful if it pays very close attention to the characteristics of the actual
film medium and not only to linguistic and semantic questions.
       However, notwithstanding the above account of the limitations of subtitling as a translation
method, many worthy translators work in this field and produce highly creditable versions of original
film dialogue. While many of them, like most other translators, would eschew the idea that they work to
any kind of plan, attempts have been made to observe what strategies are in fact adopted in subtitling
work (Ivarsson 1992, Gottlieb 1992, Kovacic 1996). Gottlieb, for example, has devised ten strategies
that he sees at work in reducing a text to subtitles, and which he classifies as expansion, paraphrase,
transfer, imitation, transcription, dislocation, condensation, decimation, deletion, and resignation.
      Examining each in turn, expansion is used when the original requires an explanation because of
some cultural nuance not retrievable in the target language; paraphrase is resorted to in cases where the
phraseology of the original cannot be reconstructed in the same syntactic way in the target language;
transfer refers to the strategy of translating the source text completely and correctly; imitation even
maintains the same forms, typically with names of people and places; transcription is used in those cases
where a term is unusual even in the source text, for example the use of a third language or nonsense
language; dislocation is adopted when the original employs some sort of special effect, for example a
silly song in a cartoon film, where the translation of the effect is more important than the content;
condensation would seem to be the typical strategy used, that is the shortening of the text in the least
obtrusive way possible, but as we shall see later, this is not necessarily the case; decimation is an
extreme form of condensation where, perhaps for reasons of discourse speed, even potentially important
elements are omitted; deletion refers to the total elimination of parts of a text; resignation describes the
strategy adopted when no translation solution can be found and meaning is inevitably lost.
      In looking for tools to examine language with a view to translation for subtitles, Kovacic
(1996:298) cites Halliday and the functional linguistics model developed by him as being particularly
useful in analysing the general principles of human communication organisation.

      "Since (in subtitling) we are dealing with language in use, the most appropriate models for such a
      description would seem to be those provided by functional linguistics, which defines its objective
      as study of language not as a formal system, but rather as a system of social semiotics, i.e. from
      the point of view of its function in human societies".
Halliday himself (1992: 15) described translation as a "meaning-making activity" but added the
distinction that it is "the guided creation of meaning", pointing out that what is of interest is the question
of choice.
      While Halliday was talking basically about semantic, lexicogrammatical and phonological choices,
other choices (of strategy and of content) are made following the translator's mental construction of the
context of situation. Different cultures have different modalities of perception which at times impede
interlingual understanding. Translators must know their audiences very well and be sensitive to their
receptive capabilities in given situational contexts. The three components of the context of situation field
(what is going on), tenor (who is involved) and mode (how the language is being employed) determine
the register of each situation and are in turn related to the ideational, interpersonal and textual functions
of language alluded to above, which are at work simultaneously in any semiotic event, film being a
particularly complex example. Films unwind in a sequence of scenes which can each be described as
belonging to or representing a certain genre or genrelet. As Ventola (1988: 52) explains:

      the plane of genre uses the register plane as its realisation ... the register plane in its turn, uses
      both the language plane and non-linguistic planes for its realisation.

Subtitles must then attempt to bring the language plane and the non-linguistic plane together where
necessary to relay meaning.
      Finally, after the various problems associated with screen translation have been considered and the
various merits and demerits of dubbing and subtitling are weighed up, Luykens et al seem to give support
to the choice of subtitles for the translating of a series such as 'Eastenders':

     Where... a play, film or series attempts to portray life in a particular country, the language of that
     country is an essential part of that cultural experience and it should be preserved: in such cases
     subtitling might be the more appropriate form of language transfer (Luykens et al 1991: 130).

There is, however, a contradiction a few lines further on where it is suggested that "crime stories,
thrillers, soap operas, etc. ... can be dubbed" (ibid: 131). The answer to the apparent contradiction can
probably be found in the kind of soap opera in question. 'Coronation Street' and 'Eastenders' definitely
belong in the former category; every scene, and every detail of every scene, portrays life in the (part of
the) country in which they are set. Furthermore, they tend to reflect social, political and cultural changes
within their society and within the wider society in general, as such factors are woven into the various
unfolding plots.
      While most soap operas are considered to be in the second division of media products, as compared
to major feature films, it is to be hoped that in future popular (and worthy) television series may receive
more serious attention. Our intention is to apply serious translation and adaptation techniques to just such
a product, also with a view to providing a useful didactic tool for student translators and those working in
the communication sciences.

Analysis and Translation
      An actual excerpt of 'Eastenders' text and its translation and adaptation into subtitles will now be
examined in the light of the above discussion. The extract in question features one of the many scenes set
in the 'Queen Vic' pub. The pub is a fulcrum for the various events that unfold in the neighbourhood. It is
the most visited and revisited scene. People come and go and recount their lives, at times encouraged by
the consumption of alcohol. The talk is genuine and predictable enough "I'll have a pint, please",
"Lager?", "The usual?". The only totally unauthentic note, and this applies to practically every scene in
Eastenders, is that nobody swears. The laws or conventions on censorship for a show that goes out in the
early evening restrict any imprecations to words like 'Blimey'. Similar constraints apply to the translated
version. At times the more intimate conversations seem a little too sentimental to be real, but Peggy, the
landlady and maternal figure, is believable enough. The rest of the banter and the quips are genuine
sounding, even though in real life there would be more overlap, more hesitation, more repetition, more
use of ritualistic expressions, etc.
      The text has been translated by a professional, university-trained translator with a view to capturing
all the elements of spontaneous conversation that are present in the original, while at the same time
paying attention to the non-verbal features indicated in the stage directions and settings. This translated
text was then subjected to further fine tuning to adapt it to the needs of subtitles.

Pub scene (transcription)
(Barry is dancing on his own, obviously pleased with himself)
Nina: (handing him a glass of water!) What are you doing?
Barry: (embarrassed pause) Nothin.

(enter Ian Beales, stared at malevolently by Josie, the black lady helping out behind the bar)
Ian: (to Nina and moving round the bar, pointing) Can I have one of those, please Nina?
Nina: (smirking) How's the dodgy store?
Ian: It's not dodgy. It's second-hand.
Nina: That's not what I heard.
Ian: Yeah, well don't believe everything you've heard.

(further down the bar)
Jeff: What's up, Josie?
Josie: Jamie's been selling Kim's christening bracelet. Honestly, I don't know what's wrong with that girl
at the moment.
Jeff: 'Ow d'you mean?
Josie: These girls she hangs out with don't help.
Jeff: Ohh, Nicky's nice enough. Look, if you're worried, have a word with Rosa.
Josie: Maybe.
Jeff: Come to the Salsa tonight. Rosa mentioned something about going - Oh, not with me. I mean,
just... have a quick chat. Can't do any 'arm, can it?
Josie: Thanks.

(enter boy)
Nina: What do you want?
Matt: Lager.
Nina: (sarcastically) Surprise!
Matt: I'm celebrating. Join me if you like.
Nina: No, thanks.
(enter Ricky as Barry is sitting at table)
Barry: 'ere Ricky. I've only got a date!
Ricky: What?
Barry: You're the only person I'm telling. Natalie's fixed me up just like she said she would.
Ricky: I hope she's more together than some of the Natalies I've known.
Barry: I'm taking her to the Salsa class.
Ricky: You got a partner. Got to be gutted.
Barry: Very funny!
Ricky: (to Nina) Is me dad about?
Nina: No, he's gone shopping.
Ricky: Great!

Nina: Ma cosa pensi di fare?
Barry: Niente.

Ian: Nina, me ne dai uno anche a me.
Nina: Come va il negozio poco raccomandabile?
Ian: Non è poco raccomandabile, è roba di seconda mano.
Nina: Non è quello che mi hanno detto.
Ian: Be' non devi credere a tutto quello che ti dicono.
Jeff: Che c'è, Josie?
Josie: Jamie s'è messo a vendere il braccialetto di battesimo di Kim. Sinceramente non so proprio cosa le
passa per la mente in questo momento.
Jeff: Ossia?
Josie: Queste tipe che frequenta non aiutano un granché.
Jeff: Ma, Nicky non c'è male. Senti, se sei preoccupata, parla con Rosa.
Josie: Può darsi.
Jeff: Vieni a lezione di Salsa stasera. Rosa ha detto che forse andava - ma non con me; Cioè scambiaci
quattro parole. Male non farà, no?
Josie: Grazie.

Nina: Che ti do?
Matt: Birra.
Nina: Ma va!
Matt: Festeggio. Ti puoi unire a me.
Nina: No, grazie.

Barry: Hey Ricky. Sai che mi vedo con una.
Ricky: Che?
Barry: Sei l'unico a cui lo dico. Natalie mi ha sistemato, proprio come diceva.
Ricky: Spero che sia meglio di alcune delle Natalie che ho conosciuto io.
Barry:La porto a lezione di Salsa.
Ricky: Ti sei trovato una partner. Devi essere infranto.
Barry: Molto spiritoso!
Ricky: E' in giro mio padre?
Nina: No, è andato a fare la spesa.
Ricky: Stupendo!

      The translator has attempted to capture the spontaneous level of conversation among the various
participants in the scene, but without paying particular attention to the technical restrictions associated
with subtitles. The resulting text is also an attempt to make the Italian dialogue seem realistic without
betraying the cultural setting, which is of course an east London pub, and not a Bar Sport in the suburbs
of Rome. The characters are not Italian and their social and psychological situations would be very
different even from a group of broadly corresponding characters (a 'wide boy', a bar owner, a young
mother, etc.) located in, for example, a suburb of Rome. Indeed, the translated text does not attempt to
incorporate any social or regional elements, though a case could perhaps be made for inserting a few
transcriptions of local vernacular, for example Roman, thereby transposing the speech patterns of one
capital onto another. The latter is merely a suggestion, and a controversial suggestion, designed to
prevent the discourse from becoming too 'respectable'.

     As explained above, the pub is the fulcrum for all the sub-plots that are being played out at any one
time and which intertwine with each other. In this short excerpt, several threads are woven together as
actions and words spell out what is happening elsewhere. Barry's lone dance at the beginning of the
scene is the result of his state of high excitement at having arranged a date through an escort agency.
Nina the barmaid's intonation on What are you doing? tells us she at least suspects what is going on and
feigns ironic surprise. The addition of pensi in the translation is a way of reinforcing the phrase to
capture that irony, and also providing a point for the vocal stress. In spite of his bluff exterior, Barry
reveals his inherent shyness and embarrassment with his sheepish Nothin, also providing excellent lip
synch. The exchange forms a classic adjacency pair of question/answer and is fairly effortlessly
translated, a mixture of expansion and transfer in Gottlieb's terms, and appears as a two-line subtitle.
      Wide-boy Ian Beales' request for a drink is paraphrased through a reversing of the perspective that
is quite commonly found in English/Italian translation. The modalised question Can I have...? becomes,
if backtranslated, a request Will you give me... . The friendly allocutionary form encapsulated in dai
compensates for the ubiquitous phatic please in the English. The vocative Nina is fronted, but for lip
synch purposes it might be post-placed. As this line stands alone and is not crucial to the story-line, it
might be thought that there is an argument for leaving it out in subtitling, especially as the gestures are
clear, but the interpersonal element expressed in this simple contact has a certain importance in the
overall understanding of the programme. Ian is met by the frosty stare of Josie, black girl Kim's mother,
reminding us that his second-hand business has already encountered local disapproval through the
buying of young Kim's christening bracelet and the subsequent attempts to make a large profit from the
deal when Kim asks to buy it back. Hence the relevance of Nina's How's the dodgy store?, though again
this kind of impertinence is consonant with her role as barmaid. The Italian poco raccomandabile would
appear to be of a higher register though this is often fortuitous in translating from Germanic to Romance
languages; it is however on the limits of the average 40 characters per line for subtitles, and is much
longer than the original, and a synchronisation problem presents itself as Nina is almost in close-up.
Translation from English to Italian is always open to the risks of greater elaboration in the target version
(subtitling towards English from Italian, or French, or German, is often facilitated in this respect). Ian's
defensive reply goes well over that limit and, in order to provide a two-line adjacency pair, may require
condensing to something like Cosa vuoi dire? E' ... , which would also fit syllabically. The reply
provokes from Nina the remark That's not what I heard, a highly predictable response; it is one of a
series of expectations generated by the scenario in question, which has been amply displayed to the
viewers (the shop has already appeared in this episode, the unscrupulous behaviour of Ian's assistant has
been seen, and people have already made disparaging remarks about it). Again there is paraphrase as the
perspective of 'hearing' is altered to that of 'being told'. In English the initial That's would leave the
stress until not, thus permitting synchronising with Non. Ian's automatic response, completing a two-line
subtitle, is also predictable from the scenario, this kind of response having been repeated in numerous
similar scenarios experienced in their lives by viewers. The use of Bè as a discourse marker maintains
the register created by Yeah and is a change from the common use of 'Già', adopted for lip synch.
purposes but often inappropriate. It is an example of 'translationese' cf. 'Buon pomeriggio' and the
constant use of 'vuoi' for 'will'. The addition of devi in non devi credere makes the Italian seem more
      The conversation between Jeff and Josie shows up the contrasting speech patterns of the two
participants. Jeff speaks with a cockney accent and all the typical features of casual spontaneous talk -
What's up...? (colloquial for What is the problem?; 'Ow d'you mean? , Can't do any 'arm (with the
ellipted 'h' and 'ou' phonemes); I mean, just... (hesitation). Josie, on the other hand, has a West Indian
accent but enunciates perfectly and speaks 'well' compared to most of the other characters, a not
uncommon phenomenon amongst the established black community. Their conversation and Josie's
continued hostile glares towards Ian reinforce the 'dodgy store' story line. The concern for the christening
bracelet is socially significant in demonstrating the strong links that many immigrant families maintain
with the church, even for generations. Initially, however, Jeff's What's up, Josie?/Che c'è, Josie?
displayed as a single title, coupled with the non-verbal signs, creates a certain expectation in the
audience which Josie then satisfies with her long explanation. Vocatives, like Josie in this case, are very
useful in anchoring lip synch. Although her explanation is long, the anticipation engendered leads to
quicker reading and so the first sentence can remain intact. The second sentence, appearing below as a
second line, can be decimated by leaving out in questo momento which also creates a rather
cacophonous repetition of nasal 'm' sounds. The Sinceramente, which accurately translates Honestly as
an interpersonal theme in clauses of this type, should be kept precisely because of its interpersonal role
in reinforcing Josie's concern. Although 'onestamente' would provide lip synch, there are more pertinent
semantic and stylistic considerations at stake.
      Her similar concern about the company Kim keeps ties in with the viewer's knowledge of the rather
fragile relationship Kim has with the other, slightly older and more well-off, white girls. Jeff sets up an
adjacency pair of titles with Ow d'you mean?, translated with Ossia? where the translator has taken the
original expression as a chunk of meaning and relaced it with a corresponding chunk, though Cioè?
might be preferred from a register point of view. Although the two versions do not match lexically, the
eye movement provides assistance. The lower register hangs out with is shifted in the translation to
granché. Jeff's response, displayed over two lines, features a built-in condensation in parla for the
grammatical metaphor have a word. The opening Nicky and closing Rosa provide lip synchronisation at
the beginning and end of this line even if the words in the middle do not match. Josie's Maybe/Può
darsi, which basically means 'Yes', can be sacrificed as her nod gives the information. Jeff's suggestion
of going to the Salsa evening, which will become one of the focal points of the episode, is expanded in
translation to explain that a lesson is involved. Jeff's reticence about his relationship with Rosa, the
Italian restaurant owner Oh, not with me, is another ongoing theme, and the ma non con me! might best
be added as a third line in the titles (there is effortless lip synch), with the exclamation mark showing his
insistence on this point, leaving his last two clauses and Josie's Grazie to form a final exchange. The
punctuation, pre-placed cioè and post-placed no? are an attempt to capture Jeff's embarrassed
      Nina's peremptory What do you want? addressed to Matt tells us a lot about the boy's reputation, at
least locally. Her sarcastic Surprise! to his request for lager is suggestive of the fact that Matt often
drinks too much of the said liquid and behaves badly as a result, and is admirably translated by Ma va!,
resisting the temptation to provide a transparent 'che sorpresa', and completing a three-part exchange.
Indeed Nina's non-verbal gestures and facial expressions complement the translation as successfully as
the original. Matt's explanation Festeggio is an example of forced condensation in that the unmarked
tense in English is the continuous (I'm celebrating) and in Italian the simple. However, his cockney
speech rhythms result in him pronouncing these five syllables as quickly as the three syllables in the
translation. His offer Join me if you like is quite typical of pub protocol where bar staff are often offered
drinks, and also arouses curiosity as to what he is celebrating. Nina's rejection of the offer strengthens
the certain antagonism established initially.
      The scene shifts briefly to Rosa's restaurant and then straight back to the pub where Barry is sitting
at a table. 'Ere Ricky is a typically elliptical request to Ricky to join him, and his immediate I've only got
a date! indicates Barry's ill-concealed excitement about the matter. Barry's idiolect, mentioned earlier,
requires some thought on the part of the translator as his linguistic choices transcend the more
predictable speech patterns of many of the other characters. The only is ironic, though a way of
intensifying the statement, and is covered by the colloquial Italian. Barry's next speech must also be
displayed as a two-liner as it transcends even the 70 character limit, thus justfying the addition of
persona in the translated version to proved a synch reference. Again the tense becomes simple present in
Italian and there is ellipsis of the modal she would. Ricky's rejoinder is longer in translation, but by
removing the che and the indefinite alcune di and converting to the present tense, it could be shortened
to something like Spero sia meglio delle Natalie che conosco io. Barry brings up the Salsa class again,
the idea of the class coming over through the reiterating of lezione di Salsa, also picking up on the
earlier mention; it is now becoming more and more a focus point as various stories converge towards it;
Ricky's ironic and laconical responses are another example of expected occurrences, expected by Barry
and by the viewer. Ricky then changes the subject (Barry wishes to speak about nothing else), and asks
Nina about his dad. Given the diminutive form used in English, 'papà' might have been a better choice of
lexical item, but padre provides a closer phonological fit with dad through the 'd' plosive. When told by
Nina that his father has gone shopping (a far spese rather than a fare la spesa, as he has gone 'up west'
and not to the supermarket), in any case a rather odd concept, he simply registers the fact that the father
isn't available, and expresses his disappointment with Great!, his illocutionary intent, of course, being
the exact opposite of what he says - a very common conversational gambit. Stupendo fulfils the same
function, though Grandioso would be better for synch purposes, and perhaps expresses the irony better.
The fact that the viewer knows his father has not gone shopping adds to the solidarity and identification

- Ma cosa pensi di fare?
- Niente.
Me ne dai uno anche a me, Nina.

- Come va il negozio poco raccomandabile?
- Cosa vuoi dire? E' roba di seconda mano.

- Non è quello che mi hanno detto.
- Be' non devi credere a tutto quello che ti dicono.
Che c'è, Josie?

Jamie s'è messo a vendere il braccialetto di battesimo di Kim.
Sinceramente non so proprio cosa le passa per la mente.

- Cioè?
- Queste tipe che frequenta non aiutano un granché.

Ma, Nicky non c'è male.
Senti, se sei preoccupata, parla con Rosa.

Vieni a lezione di Salsa stasera.
Rosa ha detto che forse andava...
ma non con me!

- Cioè scambiaci quattro parole. Male non farà, no?
- Grazie.
- Che ti do?
- Birra.
- Ma va!

- Festeggio. Ti puoi unire a me.
- No, grazie.
- Hey Ricky. Sai che mi vedo con una.
- Che?

Sei l'unico a cui lo dico.
Natalie mi ha sistemato, proprio come diceva.

Spero sia meglio delle Natalie che conosco io.

- La porto a lezione di Salsa.
- Ti sei trovato una partner. Devi essere infranto.
- Molto spiritoso!

- E' in giro mio padre?
- No, è andato a far spese.
- Grandioso!

      From a statistical point of view, and in order to provide some scientific backing to the analysis, the
breakdown of the Gottlieb strategies adopted in the translation of the 'Eastenders' text was approximately as

      transfer            65%
      condensation        8%
      decimation                   3%
      paraphrase                   11%
      expansion                    8%
      resignation                  5%

Six of the ten strategies were employed and various choices were made but the overwhelming conclusion
that emerges from this analysis is that the wording remains the crucial factor, both at individual lexis and
clause level. The figures match those found in other similar surveys of film subtitling eg. in the case of the
English versions of the Italian films 'Caro Diario' and 'Il Postino'. Meaning is seen to reside overwhelmingly
in this dimension: the surprising degree of statistically recorded 'transfer' will perhaps surprise the reader
versed in translation theory. As mentioned before, this is problematic only where this transfer is basically
ideational transfer, so the audience is potentially deprived of the more complete picture, but in the case of
'Eastenders', although there were doubtless losses at the more subtle levels of pragmatic meaning,
particularly through the ommission of conversational and register markers, efforts were made to capture as
much as possible of the total meaning. Thus, Lambert's view (1993: 234) that subtitles are a "support text"
that nevertheless provide cohesion and coherence between the images on the screen, the general soundtrack,
and the co-text formed by the titles themselves, seems to be borne out in this case.
      A good translator/subtitler, therefore, should be able to guarantee the inclusion of all the essential
elements of meaning, such that the viewer perceives the events of the film, in Hallidayan terms, as not only
an ideational, but also an interpersonal and textual whole. It is salutary to remember that, whether we are
discussing the field of television translation or any other sector, it is the preponderance of straightforward
workmanlike interpretation (the organisation of information in transitivity patterns that fulfil the ideational
function) that paves the way for that smaller but essential element of imaginative and creative translation
expertise that captures the interpersonal elements and blends the verbal and non-verbal signals that map out
the textual function that makes a complex semiotic event not only comprehensible but also enlightening and

Berretta M., 1994, "Il parlato italiano contemporaneo", in L. Serianni e R. Trifone (eds.), Storia della
lingua italiana II scritto e parlato, Giulio Einaudi editore, Torino, pp. 239-270.
de Linde, Z. & N. Kay. 1999. The Semiotics of Subtitling, Manchester, St. Jerome Publishing.
Dries, J. 1995. Dubbing and Subtitling, The European Institute for the Media.
d'Ydewalle, G. & M. Vanderbeeken. 1996. Perceptual and Cognitive Processing of Editing Rules in
Film, Leuven, Dept. of Psychology.
Giordano, T.G. 1998. 'L'Italiano delle "soap operas"'. In Quaderni di doppiaggio, Finale Ligure, Voci
dell 'Ombra.
Halliday, M. A. K. 1985. Spoken and Written Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Halliday, M. A. K. (1985) 1994. A Introduction to Functional Grammar, London: Edward Arnold.
Herbst, T. 1994. "Why dubbing is impossible". In Baccolini, R. Bosinelli Bolettieri, R.M. & Gavioli, L.
Il doppiaggio: trasposizioni linguistiche e culturali, Bologna: CLUEB.
House, J. (1981) (1997) A Model for Translation Quality Assessment. Tübingen: Gunter Narr Verlag.
Kovacic, I. 1996. "Subtitling Strategies: A flexible hierarchy of priorities". In C. Heiss and R.M. Bollettieri
Bosinelli (eds), Traduzione multimediale per il cinema, la televisione e la scena. Bologna: Clueb, 297-305.
Kress, G. 1985. "Ideological Structures in Discourse". In T.A. van Dijk (ed.) Handbook of Discourse
Analysis, London, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Publishers. pp. 27-42.
Lambert, J. 1993. "Le sous-titrage et la question des traductions". In R. Arntz and G. Thome (eds),
Übersetzunswissenschaft. Ergebnisse und Perspectiven. Tübingen: Narr, 228-238.
Luyken, G. M. with Herbst, T. Langham Brown, J. Reid, H. & Spinhof, H. 1991. Overcoming language
barriers in television, Media Monograph No. 13, Manchester, The European Institute for the Media.
Nida, E. 1996. The Sociolinguistics of Interlingual Communication, Brussels: Editions du Hazard.
Minchinton, J. 1997. Sub-titling, London, BBC (unpublished).
Ochs, E. 1979. "Planned and unplanned discourse". In T. Givón (ed), 1979. Syntax and Semantics, Vol
12, Discourse and syntax. Academic Press.
Tannen, D. 1992. You Just Don’t Understand. London: Virago.
Scenes involving Peggy's illness (transcription)
Frank and Mark at the market
Mark: How's she doing?
Frank: Fine, fine.. Why?
Mark: She told me about the biopsy.
Frank: Ah, right, yeah...yeah...well, y'know, we're taking each day as it comes.
Mark: Yeah, its not easy, is it? To talk about these things.
Frank: No... but I'm with her every step of the way, y'know.
Mark: Well, I'm around too if it helps.
Frank: Yeah
Mark: So when does she get the results?
Frank: Ah, we're waiting for the hospital to ring today with another appointment.
Mark: Well, good luck.
Frank: Thanks Mark, we'll get by.

Frank and Peggy at the 'Queen Vic'
Frank: Look, no news is good news.
Peggy: Why?
Frank: Peggy, you've gotta look on the bright side. If it was serious, they'd wanna see you straight away.
Peggy: Well, they're just ringing about an appointment, that's all.
Frank: Peggy, look please, try to be positive about this: they said they'd call you first thing this morning
and they haven't.
Peggy: Well, that doesn't mean anything. I mean, the computers are probably still down.
Frank: Well, I still think it's good news. Why don't you kiss me?

Frank and Peggy after the 'bust' incident
Frank: Peggy!... Peggy! Peggy! It'll be fixed, darlin', it's just a bust!
Peggy: Errgh!
Frank: (realising what he said) Oh, I'm, I'm sorry, I didn't think...
Peggy: The hospital, they wanna see me tomorrow morning... gimme the results.
Frank: That, that, that doesn't mean to say it'll be bad news, darlin'. You're gonna be fine, I know you

At the consultant
Peggy: Do you have to do that?
Frank: Hmm, sorry... Peggy, it's gonna be alright, darlin'... Sorry.
Peggy: I suppose one of us 'as to be positive.
Doctor: Mrs. Mitchell, would you like to come through now, please.
Peggy: (to Frank) Do I look as scared as you?
Frank: Yeah.
Peggy: I must be terrified, then.
Frank: Yeah, Come on now, believe me, it's gonna be fine.

Doctor: You might want to take some notes, Mr. Butcher...
Frank: Right.
Doctor: ...there is a lot to take in and notes can sometimes help ...
Peggy: Get on with it, please?
Doctor: Well, the lab results from your biopsy have come through Mrs. Mitchell... there's no easy way to
say this, but... there is a second growth.
Peggy: It's come back.
Doctor: Yes.
Frank: Well, well are there drugs, therapies, you know, something?
Doctor: Thanks to your vigilance, there's every chance that the cancer is isolated, and with an operation
we can catch it before it spreads further.
Frank: Er, well, what, what happens then?
Doctor: I recommend a modification to Mrs. Mitchell's hormone therapy.
Frank: If she does have it done, I mean, what exactly, I mean what will go? Just the lump?
Doctor: In this instance, we would need to remove the entire breast. Given the test result, it's your best
option. With a mastectomy, the outlook is extremely positive.
Peggy: I've heard all this before. There are no guarantees, are there? I mean, it doesn't mean that the..
cancer won't come back.
Doctor: It's far less likely to.
Peggy: You could do it and I'd still not be better.
Doctor: There's no doubt that having the operation would dramatically improve your chances, and that
without it there is a higher risk of the cancer spreading.
Frank: Well, I think in that case, darlin'.
Peggy: I'm not having it!
Doctor: You don't have to decide now.
Peggy: Are you deaf? I said NO!
Doctor: Mrs. Mitchell...
Peggy: Don't Mrs.Mitchell me!
Frank: Peggy.
Peggy: I'm the one who's living with this. It's my decision, isn't it? Isn't it?
Doctor: Yes.
Peggy: Well, I'm not 'aving it!

Frank and Peggy at the 'Queen Vic'
Frank: Peggy!
Peggy: I'm busy.
Frank: I don't care, come 'ere! I've been thinking about what the consultant said.
Peggy: Frank, it's...
Frank: You gotta face up to this.
Peggy: I have.
Frank: Then you know you should 'ave the operation. Now you listen to me, this is not about losing a
breast, this is about saving your life!

Peggy makes up her mind
Peggy: I phoned the 'ospital this morning.
Frank: Yeah?
Peggy: I've made up me mind. I'm gonna 'ave the mastectomy. I've arranged to go in in a couple of days.
Frank: Well, erm.. what made you decide?
Peggy: I've got a lot to live for.

Peggy tells her son about the operation
Phil: What's wrong?
Peggy: I'm going into 'ospital in the next couple of days.
Phil: You got the results back.
Peggy: Consultant says that... the consultant says that a mastectomy is me best chance and...
Phil: Ohh!
Peggy: ... I've decided to take his word for it.
Phil: Oh, it's come back. What, and there's no alternative?
Peggy: Oh yeah, yeah there is a... I don't 'ave to 'ave the operation, I could say no, but... but...
Phil: Mum, you're gonna be alright.
Peggy: After all this time, Phil, I've found someone I love, ... and Frank loves me, and ... I don't wanna
leave 'im, ... and you, ... and Grant.
Phil: It's gonna be alright.

Peggy tells Nina
Peggy: I need to talk to you, I'm going away for a few days and I've got to arrange cover with you and
Nina: Going anywhere nice?
Peggy: I'm gonna have a mastectomy.
Nina: Oh Peggy, I...
Peggy: Keep it to yourself, eh, love?
Nina: Yeah, of course.
Peggy: At least I'm gonna leave this place in capable 'ands.
Nina: Yeah, well, listen Peggy, if there's anything...
Peggy: Right....

     The first scene (re)introduces the audience to the fact that Peggy is seriously ill and that Frank is
seriously worried. It is interesting that, in line with Deborah Tannen's (1992) theories regarding the
respective features of men's and women's speech, Frank finds it difficult to discuss this delicate matter,
whereas the women in the series, seeking and offering solidarity, find it helpful to discuss their problems
amongst themselves. Hence the hesitations, the rapid delivery and the evident desire to avoid the topic.
       The key to the second scene is the proverbial expression 'no news is good news'. Proverbial and
metaphorical language is a mainstay of all working-class conversation (notice "look on the bright side",
etc.), but here the focus is on the contrast between Frank's (false) optimism and Peggy's resigned
realism. The 'bust' incident brings Peggy's state of mind clearly into focus and her frustration with
Frank's optimism finally boils over. In both cases, intonational features are of paramount importance, as
the audience empathises with Frank, knowing he is only 'going through the motions' and doesn't really
believe that everything is "gonna be fine", and sympathises with Peggy whose nerves are a breaking
       The scene at the consultant's is important as it takes the action briefly away from the Walford
milieu. This allows the characters (and the audience) to make contact with the world outside and thereby
better understand the east-end world. The difference in environment is reinforced by the frightened
demeanour of Frank and Peggy, and the language of the doctor, which is not the 'ordinary' talk of the
other characters, "Would you like to come through please".... "I recommend...". Moreover, the doctor's
speech shows no hesitation, no repetition, no errors, as he enunciates his way perfectly through a (for
him) well rehearsed routine (cf. Frank's stumbling responses). Peggy replies to the doctor in her own
vernacular "Get on with it!", "Don't Mrs. Mitchell me!"
      The scene set later in the pub shows Frank asserting himself, not in an aggressive way, but it is
interesting how the determination he shows also manifests itself in an unhesitant, clear statement. It
obviously has some effect as, shortly afterwards, Peggy agrees to have the operation. The scene in which
Peggy gives this information to her son, Phil, is again distinguished by a high degree of emotion,
perceived particularly at a phonological level. Phil, a rather 'macho' motor mechanic, also finds it
difficult to talk about delicate matters, even with his mother. He mutters platitudes and looks and sounds
embarrassed. Finally, Peggy adopts a businesslike tone and makes the necessary arrangements for
running the pub in her absence with Nina.

Points regarding intralingual subtitling (eg. for the deaf)

Scene 1
Pauses are very important for dramatic effect - imaginative punctuation.
Frank's hesitations are an important interpersonal element, so some of them must be kept to provide this
non-factual information.
The proverbial/metaphorical language ("taking each day as it comes", "with her every step of the way")
is typical.
BUT Frank delivers long line very quickly.
Is Frank's single "yeah" clear from gesture?
Some lines are not clear in the original version, due largely to Frank's reticence (an important part of his
character). Should they appear unclear in subtitles?

Scene 2
The phonological markers indicating east London speech patterns (gonna, wanna, 'ave, etc.) need to
Some of the lines exceed even the 70 character limit. At some points it will be necessary to opt for either
shortened adjacency pairs or three-part excganges, or single speaker split lines.
The change of register with "why don't you kiss me?" needs handling carefully.

Scene 3
The tragic ambiguity in the word 'bust' must come over clearly.
Peggy's distraught message is a classic example of parataxis and ellipsis in spoken language and must
remain so.
Frank's nervous hesitation causes Peggy's nervous reaction and both must be indicated in the subtitles,
Peggy's in capital letters with an exclamation mark, for example.

Scene 4
The key to this scene is the contrast between the doctor's formal, perfectly enunciated, and at times
quasi-technical language, Frank's hesitant and respectful questioning, and Peggy's unexpectedly brusque
responses. Each register consists of different lexical, semantic and phonological components and the
titles must reflect this.
The doctor, and by his influence also Frank and Peggy, speak relatively slowly and give more
opportunity to the subtitler to adopt longer titles. The doctor speaks so clearly and deliberately that
three-line titles are quite acceptable. Furthermore, the dramatic nature of the scene has the effect of
increasing the average reading speed of the audience.

Scenes 5/6
In scene 5, the titles should pick up the fact that Frank becomes assertive and more coherent, and thus
the long line should be given in full.
The paratactic nature of the exchanges continues.

Scene 7
The intimacy of the scene is the most important factor. The emotion in Peggy's lines needs emphasising,
while Phil's lines can be reduced to a minimum to show his difficulty in formulating verbal responses.

Scene 8
Here it is important to bring out the more businesslike tone where Peggy is not speaking to her loved

- How's she doing?
- Fine, fine........ Why?

- She told me about the biopsy.
- Yeah, y'know, ... taking each day as it comes.

- Yeah, its not easy to talk about these things.
- No... but I'm with her every step o' the way.

Well, I'm around too if it helps....

So when does she get the results?

- Ah, we're waitin' for the 'ospital to ring today.
- Well, good luck.
- Thanks Mark, we'll get by.
- Look, no news is good news.
- Why?
- Peggy, you've gotta look on the bright side.
If it was serious,
they'd wanna see you straight away.

They're just ringing about an appointment.

Peggy, try to be positive about this:
they said they'd call you first thing,...
and they haven't.

Well, that doesn't mean anything....
...the computers are probably still down.

Well, I still think it's good news.

........Why don't you kiss me?
Peggy! It'll be fixed, darlin',
it's just a bust!

..... Oh, I'm, I'm sorry, I didn't think...

The hospital...
they wanna see me tomorrow morning...
... gimme the results.

That... that doesn't mean
it'll be bad news, darlin'.

You're gonna be fine,
I know you are.

- Do you have to do that?
- Hmm, sorry... Peggy,...
- ... it's gonna be alright, darlin'...
- I suppose one of us 'as to be positive.

Mrs. Mitchell, would you come through now, please.

- Do I look as scared as you?
- Yeah.

- I must be terrified, then.
- Yeah, Come on now, it's gonna be fine.

- You might want to take some notes, ...
- Right.

- there is a lot to take in and notes can sometimes ...
- Get on with it, please?!!

Well, the lab results have come through Mrs. Mitchell...
there's no easy way to say this, but...
there is a second growth.

- It's come back.
- Yes.

- Well, are there drugs, therapies, something?

Thanks to your vigilance,
there's every chance the cancer is isolated...

... and with an operation
...we can catch it before it spreads.

- Well, what happens then?
- I recommend a modification to the hormone therapy.

If she does have it done, I mean...
what exactly will go?
Just the lump?

In this instance,
we would need to remove the entire breast.

Given the test result,
it's your best option.

With a mastectomy,
the outlook is extremely positive.

I've heard all this before.
There are no guarantees, are there?

I mean, it doesn't mean that the...
cancer won't come back.

- It's far less likely to.
- You could do it and I'd still not be better.

- There's no doubt that having the operation
would dramatically improve your chances,

 and that without it
 there is a higher risk of the cancer spreading.

- Well, I think in that case, darlin'.

- You don't have to decide now.
- Are you deaf?!! I said NO!

- Mrs. Mitchell...
- Don't Mrs.Mitchell me!!

I'm the one who's living with this.
It's my decision, isn't it?

- Isn't it?
- Yes.

- Peggy!
- I'm busy.

-I don't care, come 'ere!
I've been thinking about what the consultant said.

- You gotta face up to this.
- I have.

Then you know...
you should 'ave the operation.

Now you listen to me,
this is not about losing a breast,
this is about saving your life!
- I phoned the 'ospital this morning.
- Yeah?

I've made up me mind.
I'm gonna 'ave the mastectomy.

I've arranged to go in a couple of days.

- Well, erm.. what made you decide?
- I've got a lot to live for.
- What's wrong?
- I'm going into 'ospital in a couple of days.
- Y'got the results back.
- Consultant says ... says that a mastectomy is me best chance and...

- I've decided to take his word for it.
- Oh, it's come back. .... there's no alternative?

- Oh yeah, yeah there is a...
I don't 'ave to 'ave the operation,

- I could say no, but... but...
- Mum, you're gonna be alright.

After all this time, Phil,
I've found someone I love, ...

.... and Frank loves me, and ...
I don't wanna leave 'im, ...

- and you, ..... and Grant.
- It's gonna be alright.
I need to talk to you,
I'm going away for a few days.

- I've got to arrange cover with you and Josie.
- Going anywhere nice?

- I'm gonna have a mastectomy.
- Oh Peggy, I...

- Keep it to yourself, eh, love?
- Yeah, of course.

- At least I'm gonna leave this place in capable 'ands.
- Yeah, well, listen Peggy, if there's anything...
- Right....
(potential extracts for analysis)
Rosa's restaurant
      One particular scene shows Rosa, the hard-working Italian restaurant owner and Louise, a woman
with a dubious past, chatting together and 'bonding' as mature women. They display all the linguistic and
paralinguistic features described by Deborah Tannen in her 1992 book on the differences between men
and women's language. In this work the main conclusion to emerge was that women seek to create and
maintain solidarity in conversation while men try to assert position. It is interesting how Frank, Peggy's
partner, finds it extremely dificult and embarrassing to talk to anybody, male or female, about Peggy's
illness, while Rosa and Louise, and later Rosa and Irene find it easy to discuss the most initimate details
of their lives.

The disco
     The disco scene is a little forced; it seems that only the characters involved in that episode of
Eastenders, of all ages and persuasions, are there to attend the 'salsa' class, which in itself seems a
caricature. As if aware of this lapse into pure entertainment, the 'salsa' scene involves the only real case
of totally ungenuine language behaviour. Barry's agency date for the evening, an attractive but flirtatious
young lady, is made to repeat the same lines to three different men - "You're so sweet. I love sweet men,
I want to hug them all night long." This is an example of a 'good line' that takes the viewer into the
realms of fantasy.

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