Multimedia translation

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Multimedia translation, also sometimes referred to as Audiovisual translation, is a specialized branch of translation which deals with the transfer of multimodal and multimedial texts into another language and/or culture.[1] and which implies the use of a multimedia electronic system in the translation or in the transmission process.


Multimedia translation can be applied to various fields, including cinema, television, theatre, advertisement, audiovisual and mobile device communication.

Academic study of multimedia translation

The translation of multimedia creative works is a subject of academic research, a subtopic of translation studies.[2]

Audiovisual text can be labeled as multimodal when produced and interpreted by applying a variety of semiotic resources or ‘modes’.[3] When various modes, such as language, image, music, colour and perspective are combined together in different forms of media, with the major role attributed to the screen, audiovisual text can be described as multimedial.[4]

Modes of translation

This kind of translation is strongly influenced, both in the form and in the substance of its creative process, by the process and type of device employed. Specific limits are imposed by digital graphics, and by timing and mode of use.

The primary translation modes employed in the audiovisual media include subtitling, closed captioning, surtitling and revoicing (which may occur in the form of dubbing, voice-over, mobile translation, interpreting or audio description).[5] Multimedia works can also be adapted from one media to another, for example, Cinema, TV, and video game adaptation.


Since the late 1990s, multimedia translation has found a role in education. B.A and M.A. classes on this subject have been established at several universities across Europe and the United States (Boston, Dallas, Forlì, Genova, Leeds, Londra, Pisa, Pittsburgh, Torino, Udine, Barcelona, Vigo, Winterthur).


  1. González, Luis Pérez. "Audiovisual Translation", in Baker, Mona and Gabriela Saldanha (eds.), Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies, London, 2009, p. 13.
  2. Diaz Cintas, Jorge. New Trends in Audiovisual Translation. Bristol/Buffalo/Toronto: Multilingual Matters. 2009. ISBN 978-1-84769-154-5.
  3. Baldry, Anthony and Paul J. Thibault. Multimodal Transcription and Text Analysis, London & Oakville: Equinox, 2006.
  4. Negroponte, Nicholas. Multimedia [Interview]. Hightech (August 1991): 68.
  5. Cintas, Jorge Díaz and Gunilla Anderman. Audiovisual Translation: Language Transfer on Screen, Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.