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Audio description

2022-07-06

guest post by Denise

2min readtime

Audio description

As already mentioned in the previous blog post, there are various professions that a graduate can pursue after studying translation. At ZHAW, in the multimodal communication specialization, students learn what these professions look like, what their requirements are, and what you need to pay attention to be able to write a good translation.

Why multimodal communication?

Multimodality is when at least two perceptual systems are used to process information. Today's translators need to think of more than just printed words because there are other significant elements to consider. Words, in fact, can interact with still or moving images, as well as diagrams, music, typography, and page layout. This information is perceived synchronously with multiple sensory modalities, especially visual and auditory, and thus must also be processed synchronously. Today I will introduce you to the profession of audio description.

What is audio description?

In this type of translation, visual pieces of information are described orally, making them accessible to blind and visually impaired persons. In short, elements of the action, gestures, facial expressions, and equipment are described during dialog pauses. Only those elements are described that are considered indispensable for comprehension. As can be seen, this is not an effective interlingual translation from one language to another. In fact, in addition to the existing material, further material is added intralingual, which means in the same language. This is the reason why this kind of translation is considered only a partial translation. Thus, if the existing acoustic elements (film, theater, opera) are put together with the verbalized new text (audio description), a new meaningful whole is created, which is called audio film, audio theater, or audio opera.

On Netflix you can find many films and series that can be watched with audio description.

Here you will find an example of an audio description from the film Harry Potter, Deathly Hallows:


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