Friday, May 26, 2006

Challenges of multilingual media production

While discussing the challenges of the production of multilingual training films, videos, CD'S and DVD's, a prospective customer shared with me the tribulations that they encountered. When adapting material from another province or country, the customer's company discovered that settings and symbols used in the English (in this case American) original production did not produce the expected result with French (Quebec) customers. The presence of a US flag lost its significance and some of the cultural aspects of the production did not find an equivalent in the French version. A wise producer will localise its production, i.e. adapt it to its destination country.

With an Englishman as president and a New-Zelander as another executive participating in company communications, the client realised that a well-done dub would be much more effective. That is, provided that the fading of the English voice is done properly and that the main French narrative replace it completely. The communication in this form was well received by its French-speaking employees.

In my own experience, I witnessed a case where a French-speaking female actor, dubbing a female executive, decided to carry out the French "liaison" only when she liked the sound of it. (see: In standard "broadcast" French, the liaison is done throughout, as it forms part of the speech. Our female president sounded like an uneducated hick in this presentation, not the savvy and experienced lawyer that she was. Fortunately, we noticed this discrepancy early on and were able to redub the broadcast, with the liaison performed properly.

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