A method for analysing multimodal research material: Audio description in focus

Maija Inkeri Hirvonen, Liisa Maria Tiittula

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review


A modern text is seldom a stand-alone product consisting merely of writing, but a multimodal body of signs from different meaning-making systems. The multimodal context and the new forms of translation, in which the concept of ‘text’ goes beyond language, have become increasingly relevant in contemporary translation research and practice. In order to study multimodal context and intermodal forms of translation accurately, research methodology has to be adapted. The aim of this article is to present a systematic method for analyzing multimodal material, or 'text', from the point of view of translation analysis, and intermodal translation that takes place in this context. The method is applied to study audio description, a form of translation in which visual information is compensated by verbal descriptions in order to make a text more intelligible to blind and visually impaired audiences. As an illustration, the article looks at how space is constructed in a film and its audio description, and presents a model which allows it to expose and contrast the multiple modes of meaning-making that are at play: in this case, the visual, auditory and linguistic representations of space. The outcome is a systematic presentation of complex audiovisual material in a textual form. The method can be applied to cases whose research material is multimodal and/or which undertake the challenge of
understanding intermodal translation.

Keywords: methodology, multimodality, translation analysis, audio description
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationElectronic proceedings of the Kätu symposium on translation and interpreting studies
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes
Publication typeA4 Article in conference proceedings


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