Chapter 2. Discourse analysis of film dialogues

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This chapter attempts to establish a relationship between the pragmatic non-realism of Italian cinema and dubbing (Rossi 2006a, b). Up to a few years ago, dubbing was systematically employed both in Italian and non Italian films. Building on a corpus of realistic films from 1947 to 1960, i.e. L’onorevole Angelina, Totò a colori, Poveri, ma belli, La dolce Vita, the Italian film discourse is discussed from specific standpoints. The film sample was selected to include realistic features, such as an extensive use of dialects and foreign languages and a “lower class” register. The pragmatic differences between film and real life language are illustrated via a corpus of spoken Italian (Cresti 2000) and fragments of a documentary (Anna, 1975). In contrast to what happens in spontaneous speech, the analysed films exhibit a low frequency of dialogue “drawbacks”, such as hanging or shifting topics, self-repair, redundancy, overlapping, interrupted utterances. In a similar vein to written language, film dialogues present a high degree of coherence, cohesion and conciseness, bearing traces of the (written) screenplay. It follows that film dialogues appear more akin to literary language than to orality and spontaneous speech, and belong to the pole of “distance” (from real dialogues) rather than that of “closeness” (Koch 1997, 2001).


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