Dubbing The Flintstones and The Simpsons in French. A Comparative Perspective between France and Québec

Justine Huet (jhuet@mtroyal.ca)
Modern Languages and Cultural Studies, University of Alberta
May, 2013
 

Abstract

The present dissertation conducts a comparative study of the dubbing of two American animated TV series, The Flintstones and The Simpsons, in two francophone regions/countries, Québec and France. Since audiovisual products are complex blends of semiotic signs, in which the interplay between the visuals and the verbal is crucial to the understanding of the product, and since they convey their own cultural world, the study is led along three axes: the verbal/nonverbal dynamics, the language(s) used in the dubbing and cultural references. While most theories rely on either a linguistic or a cultural approach to the dubbing process and product, the present research throws a bridge between both and offers an interdisciplinary analysis.
The dubbed shows are conceived as processes and products of the “contact zones” understood as “… social spaces where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power...” (Pratt 1991: 34). These contact zones create points of tensions inscribed within a power play at the industrial, linguistic and cultural levels. The dubbing industry is conceived as a space of negotiations or a contact zone between the local and the global characterized by power relations. The dubbing process becomes a subversive “Third Space” (Bhabha 1994: 36) in both versions, a space in between the verbal/visual dynamics, language(s) and cultures that generates a semi (in)visible translation.
Ultimately, both versions become rhizomatic (Deleuze and Guattari 1987) entities connecting heterogeneous elements within the dubbing process that blurs the TV series’ fixed identities. The translation becomes literally political in The Flintstones through multiple references to Québec’s language policies and figuratively in The Simpsons by featuring a meta-commentary on the state of the dubbing industry as an invisible art. The French version incarnates a limbo place or a Third Space in The Flintstones matching its artificial Third language and, in The Simpsons, evolves towards a more concrete patchwork matching a more ‘authentic’ language.


ISSN 1920-0323