On formulaic language in subtitling and voice-over

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Abstract

The translation of elements of formulaic language is extremely difficult in subtitles or voice-over due to time and space constraints. Besides, it is very difficult to provide a comprehensive definition of formulaic language as its sequences exist in so many forms. Traditionally, 6 basic formulas are distinguished: polywords, phrasal constraints, meta-messages, sentence builders, situational utterances, and verbatim texts. The analysis of subtitles and a voice-over version of a film shows that differences in the procedures applied for the translation of formulaic language are insignificant, and the strategies used are distributed almost evenly between preservation of content, transformation and localisation.

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