Abstract and Keywords
This article appears in the Oxford Handbook of New Audiovisual Aesthetics edited by John Richardson, Claudia Gorbman, and Carol Vernallis. Language is "divided" into its (unrelated) spoken and written forms. Cinema uses language in the distinctly different channels of sound and image, and thus is audio-logo-visual. Some films attempt to transcend the language division via embodied language (e.g., deaf sign language). This chapter considers the transition from silent film to sound and the presence of written speech in narrative films depicting screen media. Subtitling “kills” language: it cannot approximate dialects or accents, different languages being spoken, hubbub, and indistinct recording; thus it demobilizes listening. Could filmmakers develop graphic conventions in subtitles to indicate some of the richness of language spoken on the soundtrack?
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