The role of foreign language films in promoting intercultural literacies in language learning programmes has long been recognised (Pegrum 2008, Yang and Fleming 2013). More recently, the rise of video-on-demand services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime has had a major impact on access to and demand for foreign films and therefore increased the level of exposure to subtitled films to a wider audience. Comedies feature in good place in the range on offer and, in the case of French language films, the selection for the 2019 UK Netflix catalogue includes a number of comedies which deal with racial inequality and discrimination in France, a genre which Moine (2018) views as walking on a tightrope with representations of otherness.
Guillot (2010) argues that, due to constraints of message reduction, subtitling has the potential to draw attention to areas of linguistic and cultural sensitivity and in turn to promote intercultural sensitivity. This presentation will put this argument to the test by examining French into English subtitling from 3 French comedies in the 2019 UK Netflix catalogue (He even has your eyes, The African doctor, The climb) and examine the ways subtitles deal with items of cultural sensitivity, with reference to Pedersen’s (2011) taxonomy of source and target language orientated strategies. This will lead to an appreciation of overall cultural representations and of the way racial tensions are mediated through comic devices in this selection of French films for the UK audience with the aim to appraise the role played by subtitles in the deployment of common stereotypes.
Penman, C. (2019, November). The role of subtitles in mediating cultural sensitivity in French popular comedies. Paper presented at 19th International Conference of the International Association for Languages and Intercultural Communication: Translating Cultures, Cultures in Translation, Valencia, Spain