Narratology and/in audio description
Audio description (AD) has been defined in various ways. The essential idea that can be found in all these definitions is that it makes audiovisual products accessible to people with sight loss1 by translating the visual and aural elements that these people do not have access to into a verbal commentary that helps them understand and enjoy the original product. As such, AD can be considered as a form of intersemiotic (Jakobson, 1959) or intermodal (Kaindl (2013), Geerinck and Vercauteren (2020)) translation. If we take this translation theoretical perspective as a point of departure, we can say that the task of audio describers essentially consists of two main phases: first, they must carry out a systematic and detailed analysis of the source text to determine its exact meaning. Second, they must decide how to render that meaning in a suitable target text. Both these phases contain very specific difficulties. On the one hand, the source text, be it a film, a play or an opera,2 is multimodal in nature, creating meaning “from the combination of and interaction between different semiotic channels: images, dialogues, sounds and text-on-screen” (Vercauteren, 2012: 209). In other words, audio describers need very good insights into these different channels and the ways in which they interact in order to get a full understanding of the source text. On the other hand, one of the inherent limitations of AD is that it cannot interfere with the semiotic channels the target audience does have access to: the dialogues and relevant sound effects. This means that audio describers will usually not be able to include all the information they want in their target text and they will have to set priorities. To do so, they need to know what elements in the source text are most relevant and what elements are secondary. In short, what they need is a solid theoretical framework that can serve as a foundation for both source text analysis and target text creation. In this respect, narratology can be beneficial in three respects, developed in this chapter.
Source (book)
The Routledge handbook of audio description / Taylor, Christopher [edit.]; Perego, Elisa [edit.]
Routledge , 2022
p. 78-92
Full text (Publisher's DOI)
Full text (publisher's version - intranet only)
Research group
Publication type
Publications with a UAntwerp address
External links
Creation 18.03.2024
Last edited 22.03.2024
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