A STUDY ON THE AUDIENCE RECEPTION OF THEATRE SURTITLES: Surtitling in a Francophone Minority Context in Canada and the Language Learning Potentials of Theatre Surtitles

  • Author / Creator
    Pridmore-Franz, Milane C.-J.
  • This mixed-methods study focuses on the audience reception of theatre surtitles in a Francophone minority theatre context in Western Canada at L’UniThéâtre in Edmonton, Alberta. The main objective of this multifaceted research was to measure the perceptions of and reactions to English surtitles according to the participants’ first language (French L1, French and English L1, English L1, Other L1) in order to gain an understanding of how mono- and bilingual audiences make use of theatre surtitles, and how surtitles affect their reception of a theatre production. The results were contrasted with Griesel’s audience model (2005, 2007, 2009) in order to demonstrate how the model for conventional surtitling contexts must be further nuanced for theatre surtitling in Francophone minority contexts in Canada. Another goal of this study was to evaluate whether the chosen surtitling strategy of condensed-direct translation, based on the concept of literal transfer, is appropriate for such surtitling contexts. The main hypothesis of this study is based on Ladouceur’s previous research (2013a; 2013c) which outlines that it is important to reproduce the source text as close to its original form in the target text since bilingual Francophone audience members simultaneously have access to both the source text and the target text. It was assumed that this method of translation would minimize the distraction to Francophone audience members for whom the surtitles are not a necessity and subsequently, reduce the potential of these audience members judging the accuracy and legitimacy of the English translation. It was also hypothesized that this strategy is a more suitable strategy to help French language learners understand and acquire the source language spoken on stage, since past research on subtitles indicate that literal transfer provides learners with a more or less direct access to the second language they are learning and that this strategy is more supportive to low proficiency learners both psychologically and linguistically. An additional objective of this study was to measure the effect of the technical aspects of surtitles on the reception process and to test whether or not this translation strategy is suitable on a technical level, since longer surtitles automatically increase the reading speed required to absorb the surtitles. The results of this study provide a framework upon which to create surtitles for use within multicultural and bilingual contexts, such as the Francophone minority contexts in Canada, as well as for theatre productions destined to a globalized market. On a technical level, the results of this study help to further define the limits and potentials of the technical aspects of surtitles and to provide a better understanding of their impact on reception. The framework for measuring the audience reception of surtitles developed in this study is useful for advancing research on surtitles and audience reception. On a sociolinguistic level, the results provide a clear portrait of how audience members from various language backgrounds and with varying levels of French proficiency make use of surtitles in this Francophone minority theatre context and also reveal that surtitles offer several benefits to language learners.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2017
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.