PhD project

Audio-description in Dutch: A corpus-based study into the linguistic features of a new, multimodal text type.

This project is a corpus-based study of the linguistic features of a new, multimodal text type within Audiovisual Translation (AVT): Audio-description (AD) for the blind and visually impaired. The aim of this interdisciplinary project is to describe the lexico-grammatical features of AD-scripts and examine the role they play in the specific communicative function of the text. The object is to explore one of the key-issues in AD research: How are images put into words and what are the implications for the language use in AD? A recent pilot study confirmed the hypothesis that the language of AD contains distinctive grammatical (morpho-syntactic) and lexical features and that these specific patterns can be identified by corpus analysis. Firstly, the current project aims to develop an extensive and varied text corpus of AD scripts of Dutch audio-described films and series. Secondly, this text corpus will provide the basis for quantitative linguistic research, aiming to identify the prominent lexico-grammatical features of the text type. Finally, the quantitative analysis will be combined with a qualitative analysis of the (communicative) function of these features. In this last stage, special attention must be paid to the multimodal nature of the text type, since the AD-script only makes sense in combination with the dialogues, music and sound effects of the original film or series with which it forms a coherent whole. A qualitative analysis into the (communicative) function of the features will explore the unique interaction between the language of AD and the other channels of the audiovisual text. Ultimately, the project’s ambition is to conduct an extensive linguistic audience design oriented analysis of the AD-discourse. This will allow us to identify the features that characterise the AD text type, will clarify how these linguistic and stylistic features are used to ensure maximum communicative efficiency,  and how these features are related to the function and multimodal character of AD. The project presented here is a pioneer in the field: AD has become an international research topic recently but for Flanders and the Netherlands no study of AD is available yet. In addition, it can offer the basis for future application-oriented studies. AD in Flanders is in its infancy (public broadcaster VRT only started with its first audio-described series in January 2012). In brief, basic research projects like the one presented here support the development of a local AD tradition in Flanders that meets international quality standards.

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Read the summary of my PhD (PHD_Reviers2018_summary) or contact me for the full version.

The following articles are based on my thesis:

  • Reviers, N. (2018). Tracking multimodal cohesion in Audio Description: Examples from a Dutch audio description corpus. Linguistica Antverpiensia, New Series: Themes in Translation Studies, 14, 22–35.
  • Reviers, N. (2018). Studying the language of Dutch audio description: An example of a corpus-based analysis. In L. McLoughlin, J. Lertola and N. Talaván (eds.), Audiovisual translation in applied linguistics: Educational perspectives. Special issue of Translation and Translanguaging in Multilingual Contexts 4(1). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 178-202.
  • Reviers, N. (2016). On context and intersemiotic cohesion in audio description. In M. Kažimír (ed.), Kontexty: Interdisciplinárny zborník. Gorlice: Ośrodek Kultury Prawosławnej, 272–297.
  • Reviers, N., Remael, A. & Daelemans, W. (2015). The language of Audio Description in Dutch: Results of a corpus study. In A. Jankowska et al. (eds.), New Points of View on Audiovisual Translation and Accessibility. Bern: Peter Lang, 167-189.