Multimodality in translation: Steps towards socially useful research


de Pedro Ricoy R (2012) Multimodality in translation: Steps towards socially useful research. Multimodal Communication, 1 (2), pp. 181-203.

This study presents the results of a global survey of professionals in the multimedia industry which was conducted in 2011. Starting from the premise that the prevalence of multimodal communication in our societies has made “accessibility” a crucial concern and translation a necessity, the survey aimed to explore what perceptions are held by multimedia professionals regarding academic research into the translation of multimodal texts and to ascertain what types of study they consider most beneficial. The study is grounded on the belief that such research should neither exclusively serve business interests nor remain within the confines of academia, but rather be targeted towards social benefits. Thus, two key issues arise: first, how scholarly work can be tailored so as to achieve improvements in professional practices that will benefit society at large and, second, how the findings derived from such work can be effectively disseminated. The survey met with a good response from the multimedia community. This paper presents an overview of the participants’ profile, followed by the summary results of their responses. The ensuing findings are accompanied by references to existing research. These findings reveal a certain lack of awareness (and some distrust) of scholarly work related to multimodality in translation among professionals in the multimedia industry. However, they also indicate the existence of interest in the field and the willingness of the industry to engage with research that would enhance its processes and practices. Multimodal texts are, by definition, complex semiotic entities and when they are adapted for consumption by users belonging to different communities a variety of mechanisms are used (e.g. dubbing, subtitling, localisation, audiodescription). These are not restricted to modifications to the verbal make-up of the texts or to language transfer, and, arguably due to this reason, the vast majority of participants stated that wider interaction between translation and interpreting specialists, on the one hand, and experts working in relevant disciplines, on the other, is highly desirable. Thus, it will be argued here that a sound interdisciplinary approach to research into multimodality in translation is required in order to make scholarly contributions more socially useful.

Multimodality in Translation; Professional Practice; Academic Research; Survey; Interdisciplinarity

Multimodal Communication: Volume 1, Issue 2

Publication date01/07/2012
Publication date online10/12/2013
PublisherWalter de Gruyter