Hatim & Mason (1990: viii)


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1. Introduction
When we read or hear any language from the past, or when we receive as human beings any message from any other human being, we perform an act of translation. What does such an act involve? At least, an understanding of the cultural and experimental worlds that lie behind the original act of speaking or of writing, ways into their schemata, if you like. Secondly, an understanding of the potential of the two semiotic systems in terms of their image-making. Third, and most obviously, a making intelligible of the linguistic choices expressed in the message. Fourthly an opportunity to explore the social psychological intentions of the originator of the message matched against one’s own. Lastly, a challenge to match all of these with our appropriate response in our semiotic and linguistic system, and our culture.

Hatim & Mason (1990: viii)

Dubbing, as a mode of audio-visual translation, has been introduced to the Czech audience in the 1930’s and due to its gradual development has gained a well-deserved reputation of being one of the best all over the world.

Each mode of audio-visual translation brings out its specific limitations and restrictions when translation of a source text is concerned. Dubbing in particular is limited by a constant need to synchronize. What is being said in the target language has to correspond with the image on the screen – it regards the content of the utterances employed, the gestures used by the actors, the lip movements of the actors and, above all, the length of the utterance. Such restrictions might cause the final product to be unnatural, not authentic enough or inaccurate in its message portrayed to the audience.

The aim of this thesis is to explore the extent to which such restrictions influenced the dubbed version of the sitcom Friends. The corpus consists of three episodes of the fourth season of this series – it comprises of the original English version, of the dubbed version and of its translated version. The translated version was obtained by courtesy of Ivana Breznenová, one of the translators of Friends. Her version is a translation of the source text on which the adapted translation is based, and which was adjusted by the adaptors according to the special needs of the dubbing mode. For the purpose of this thesis, I will work with the sitcom as a whole, however, the detailed analysis will deal only with the three above-mentioned episodes.

The first part of the thesis deals with audio-visual translation as such, it presents an overview of its modes and their particularities, and then it focuses on dubbing as a process with its specific demands and constraints.

The second part of the thesis deals with the analysis of the corpus. It is divided into two parts – Primary and Secondary Assessment. Primary Assessment investigates the culture-specific terms found in the corpus according to Newmark’s typology of translation procedures (1988: 81-91), then the analysis of linguistic-specific terms such as rhymes, idioms or wordplays follows, and last but not least the AVT1-specific issues are examined. Afterwards, I proceed with Secondary Assessment – it comments on the types of translation universals used in the primary translation and the adapted translation, namely contraction methods (implicitation and elimination) and expansion methods (explicitation and addition). Even though this part is called “Secondary Assessment”, it is not of lower importance – it just observes the translated texts from a different point of view. This view can overlap with the Primary Assessment in some aspects; nevertheless, the use of both of them can bring intriguing information about the texts.

My initial primary hypothesis is that the average length of speech in the adapted translation will be identical with that of the source text as the lip synchronization prevents the adapted translation from expanding.

The secondary objective of the thesis is to demonstrate whether there are any differences between the primary translation and the adapted translation with respect to the culture-specific and linguistic-specific terms. As regards the treatment of the culture-specific terms, dubbing is presupposed to favour the domesticating approach to their translation. With reference to the linguistic-specific terms (and to wordplays, idioms and rhymes in particular), the surmise is that there will be a considerable loss of its determining features as it is difficult to transfer them into the target text.

The tertiary hypothesis posits that the adapted translation will be characterized by a considerably higher use of contraction strategies than expansion strategies, and these contractions will be motivated by the need to shorten the primary translation so that it fits the provided space. It is also assumed that expansion strategies will not be used to a large extent as they make the text more extensive.

2. Theoretical Part

2.1. General Background

The following chapters deal with the general background of the material compiled in the corpus. They concern sitcom as a genre and they describe a typical audience of the sitcom Friends. Individual subchapters are devoted to the main characters of the sitcom as their characterizations might enable better understanding of the jokes and situations described in the practical part.

2.1.1. Sitcom as a Genre

Situation comedy originated on radio in the 1920s. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary the term “sitcom” was used for the first time in 1951 for the comedy I Love Lucy. Sitcoms come from the United States which is the leading producer of the genre.

A situation comedy is usually referred to as a sitcom and today, it is the mainstream television entertainment. Sitcoms consist of ongoing cast of characters in a given environment (it is usually family home or workplace) and have one or more story lines in comedic drama which are followed throughout the episodes of a given sitcom. Sitcom can include laugh tracks, it is usually half an hour in length aired weekly and is often shot in front of a live studio audience, which is also the case of Friends.

Friends was the most popular US sitcom of the 1990’s – 2000’s. Some critics say its story arc is similar to that of soap operas as it often uses soap opera features such as cliffhangers at the end of a season. Nevertheless, after broadcasting the finale of Friends in 2004, media critics speculated whether we can expect only a steep decline in the quality and popularity of sitcoms or whether it is the end of the sitcom genre itself.

2.1.2. Introducing the Friends series

Friends is a show that has brought new excitement and energy to some TV traditions that should be Must See: good acting, good writing, good producing, good humor, good intentions. This was a show about people – less about action than interaction. Through its highs and lows – through fame and fortune – this show with the friendly name kept the faith with its audience. It made us smile. It made us laugh at ourselves. It made us care about some other people, even if they only existed in our hearts and minds.”

David Wild (2004: 7)

The Friends series is a sitcom created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman, successful writers and producers of other sitcoms such as Dream On, Joey or Veronica’s Closet. The sitcom does not have one director, it was directed by a lot of people throughout the ten years including its actor David Swimmer (10 episodes); to list just the most significant ones we should name Gary Halvorson, Kevin Bright (also its producer), Michael Lembeck, James Burrows, Gail Mancuso, Peter Bonerz, and Ben Weiss. The first episode of Friends, starring Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer, was released on 22nd September in 1994 in the USA and TV continued to broadcast this series until 2004 in the total of 236 episodes. It gained its audience surprisingly quickly and due to its wide popularity, it has been awarded 57 wins including Golden Globe, American Comedy Award and Emmy in various categories such as Best Performance by an actor/actress, Best TV Series or Outstanding Comedy Series.

The series is divided into ten seasons, eight of them contain twenty-four episodes, one has twenty-five episodes and the last season only 20 episodes. The sitcom maps the lives of 6 young friends living in Manhattan, New York City. It can be described as a show about life, love, sex and work, but most of all it is about friendship. The audience accompanies all the six characters in their struggles to stand on their own feet at the very beginning, through their attempts to find suitable partners for life, and up to their efforts of starting families and keeping them working. It has no main hero, all the characters agreed to keep the ensemble format of the show and not allow one member to dominate.

The six main characters are normal, ordinary people, yet all of them are “goofy” in a way which is, in fact, the backbone of the series; it is a part of the magic David Crane and Marta Kauffman created. The scenes usually take place in Monica’s apartment or in their favourite coffee place “Central Perk”.

It was the normalcy of its theme, the extraordinary good situational and verbal humour, the quality of performance and the fact that its viewers watch the show really for pleasure that attracted the audiences all over the world. Not only it won many awards but it was also very successful in the ratings. Its significance for the Czech viewers can be proved by the fact that the series has just finished its second round of broadcasting on the Czech TV. The Czech Television bought the sitcom in 1997 for the first time and since then it has been quite a regular programme without which a lot of young people cannot imagine their late afternoons.

The sitcom Friends is one the most famous series in the history of the genre and as such has a considerable impact on the culture of its audience. That is the reason why a new haircut called “Rachel” was demanded at hairdresser’s all over the world as well as Joey’s pick-up line “How you doin’?” became a part of the Western English slang, or why a number of various imitations of the Central Perk coffee house were opened throughout the world. Joey Tribbiani

Matt LeBlanc’s character, Joey Tribbiani, is a unique man. He is a struggling actor who builds his career on acting in a famous series for a while. His career can be summed up as follows: if ever he gets a part, it is usually by mistake. He is of Italian origin and has seven sisters.

Two his main traits characterizing his role through the series are his cute stupidity and his cute himself that determines him as a notorious womanizer. Joey goes so far that in one episode he thinks he has slept with all the women in New York and goes around again because he remembers the girl’s apartment but does not recognize her. His famous phrase which is always effective when Joey wants to get a date with a woman is “How you doin’?” He keeps telling about himself that he is not marriage material - the only strong relationship he is willing to work on is his passion towards food. His girlfriends and food cannot interfere with each other, if they do (that is to say when a girl touches his plate to taste his food), it is usually the end of their relationship.

As regards women in his family and those who are his friends, he has a completely different attitude – he is very protective of them and would never let a guy hurt them – and who should know better than him what are guys like?

On the subject of his “cute” stupidity, it is really rather cuteness than stupidity. He is not aware of his limited abilities concerning knowledge and logical thinking. Actually, he is not really that bad, he is just slow. Joey’s best lines are usually those mute ones – when he does not say anything at all – because everybody is waiting for him to figure something out. It is a repeated joke throughout all the series, nevertheless, it does not live up to the saying “a repeated joke is no longer a joke”. On the contrary, it might even keep getting better.

Joey’s use of literary, very formal words results in comical situations, too - he does not know the meaning of them yet he wants to use them as the others do and keeps saying complete nonsense.

He behaves like a child most of the time – the perfect example can be found in episode 7 of season 6 where he is confused for a child because of the way he has written a recommendation letter for Monica and Chandler’s adoption procedure. Chandler Bing

Chandler Bing, portrayed by Matthew Perry, is probably the funniest character of them all, particularly because of his fixed idea that he is “the joke guy” (his jokes sometimes even work) and mainly because of his unbelievable facial and mimic gesticulation. No one of the friends can make such expressive faces, in other words make fool of himself, and be so lovable at the same time.

His sardonic attitude provides a defense mechanism which originated in his traumatic childhood. When he was ten years old his mother told him that she and his father are going to get divorced because his father cheated on her with their valet and this experience gave birth to his usage of sarcastic humour.

He is scared by commitment and responsibility, he is making jokes all the time and especially in the most inappropriate situations. He might seem, from time to time, to be ignored by the others – for example, when he comes wearing glasses and asks for their opinions, they think he is wearing his regular pair, they did not notice that he normally does not wear any.

None of them knows what he does for a living, they just do not remember. It can be illustrated more than perfectly on the following example: in season 7, episode 13, Phoebe sells toners by phone and when the person on the other side of the line says “It’s just that I, uh, have been working for ten years now at thi

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