Genre in French Translation

A second factor that affects genre in French translation is the medium of the text, that is, whether the text is an oral one or a written one. The subject matter may be the same, but the difference in medium will call for a difference in treatment. Many texts that are oral are so only in performance; in actuality they are based on written scripts, for example, songs, poems and plays, and translating such texts is more complicated than usual because the French translator has to be careful to replicate the distinctive features of both the oral and the written media.

Oral Texts Features

Oral texts are characterized by certain features that distinguish them from written texts.
They are: Firstly, oral texts are customarily associated with physical gestures and facial expressions; the latter supports and complements the message of the oral text.
Secondly, oral texts aim for comprehensibility by avoiding long sentences, stuffing a lot of information into a single sentence, etc. Thirdly, oral texts convey the impression of spontaneity, and even of improvisation.

When dealing with genre in French translation, especially genre in the form of medium, the French translator must keep these facts in mind. He or she must remember that it is not simply a matter of translating the words of an oral source text; but it also involves finding suidiv equivalents for the physical gestures and the facial expressions in the target language or culture. Songs in French translation pose a special problem because of the differences in phonetics and prosody between English and French. Translators of songs generally disregard a word-for-word translation in order to preserve the original tune.

Switching between the two media happens very commonly when translating oral and written texts. A song is an oral text which, during the process of French translation, will first be converted into a written text. A play, on the other hand, is a written text, but it is regarded as an oral text for purposes of French translation. Ultimately, though, it is put down in the written form in the target language. A poem, like a play, is a written text which, after French translation, can be read silently or be read out to an audience. Dialogues in films are oral texts, but when they are translated into the target language, they take the shape of written texts, meant to be read.

Oral Texts on Translating

Subtitling presents special demands to the French translator in terms of time and space, and in terms of conveying oral features in a written medium. The titles cannot be shorter than two seconds and longer than six seconds. The French translator must obey the rules of punctuation; he or she must also try to capture the various ways in which the characters talk. Avoiding ambiguity and aiming for clarity are essential duties of the French translator when working on the French translation of subtitles. Following the above-mentioned guidelines the French translator can choose a suidiv strategy for rendering genre in French translation.

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