more often than not make this form of translation true to the spirit, rather than the letter of the original. The big question in quality assessment of subtitling could then be how to achieve fidelity to the original, when much linguistic material has to be discarded. One answer could be that basic fidelity should be towards the speech acts rather than the surface structures of the Source Texts.
S/he has to make an active decision on how to render the reference in the target language, in order to bridge the gap between the source and the target culture and For this, s/he has a set of different strategies to his/her disposal all of which could be felicitous (to borrow a term from Speech Act Theory) in fulfilling the task. The quality of the translation, or how felicitous it is, depends upon many factors, In order to evaluate whether a certain strategy is felicitous, it could be advantageous to draw on Skopos Theory to ascertain what the overriding goals etc. are for the translation at hand.
By combining the strengths of Speech Act Theory and Skopos Theory within a Descriptive Translation Studies framework, this model explores ways of maintaining high fidelity towards both the Source Text and the Target Text audience by using high felicity.
When translating Extralinguistic Culture-specific References in subtitles, the translator is faced with a translation crisis point. S/he has to make an active decision on how to bridge the gap between two cultures, which may not have much in common. Like all translators faced with this sort of problem, s/he has to help the Target Text audience make sense of the utterance of which the reference is a part. This task often clashes with the by now “famous and infamous time-and-space constraints of subtitling” (Gottlieb 2004: 219). This means that certain devices that are at other translators’ disposal, such as footnotes, are virtually non-existent in subtitling and that the possibility of using other devices, such as explicitation, is limited. However, there remain several strategies to solve these crisis points (ranging from complete retention to complete omission over such strategies as generalization and adaptation), and this study contains a comprehensive taxonomy of the available strategies.
Which strategy to use in each individual case depends on many factors, or parameters, such as the co-text and the interplay with the other semiotic channels of the polysemiotic text of the film or tv-programme, transculturality, centrality of reference, as well as expectations of the encyclopedic knowledge of the target audience. This study has uncovered some of the norms that determine subtitlers’ decision-making in this area,
but it appears that awareness of these factors varies considerably. Therefore, a tool to assess the quality of the results of their decisions could be useful for research in this area. The present study explores the use of a model which combines aspects of Skopos Theory and Speech Act Theory to evaluate how successful, or felicitous (to use a term from Speech Act Theory), the subtitlers have been in rendering of Extralinguistic Culture-specific References into a Target Text (subtitles). The Target Text should achieve target audience comprehension at the same time as it retains fidelity towards the Source Text (a film or tv-programme). An impossible task? Not if the underlying speech act of an utterance is regarded as the basic unit of translation, because then high felicity equals high fidelity.