Elena Di Giovanni is Associate Professor in English and Translation at the University of Macerata. She holds a degree in Specialized Translation and a PhD in English and Audiovisual Translation. She has taught and researched audiovisual translation and media accessibility for over 15 years, giving talks and workshops all over Italy but also in Spain, the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, the USA and Egypt. For the past 7 years she has been Visiting Lecturer at Roehampton University, London, MA Course in Audiovisual Translation. Her main research interests include subtliting, dubbing, access services for television, cinema and live events. She also specializes in research on translation in post-colonial settings and writing as translation. Her most recent publications include: Across Screens, Across Boundaries (Intralinea, Vol. 16, 2014), “Audio description and textuality” (Parallèles, vol. 26, 2014), “Visual and narrative priorities of the blind and non-blind: eye tracking and audio description”(Perspectives. Studies in Translatology, Vol. 22:1, 2014), Audiovisual Translation Across Europe: an Ever-changing Landscape (Peter Lang, 2012).
Distribution of Disney films and TV products in the Arab world has recently undergone a radical change: since the signing of a large-scale agreement between Al Jazeera and Disney, in 2013, most films and TV series are being dubbed, or redubbed, in Modern Standard Arabic. Contrary to the long-standing tradition of dubbing Disney productions using the Egyptian vernacular variety of Arabic, the eminently written, formal language used for administration and classical education has been introduced as a vehicle for animation dialogue. And not without consistent semantic manipulation. This article seeks to contextualize this recent shift in dubbing animation in the Arab world, with a view to unveiling its underlying dynamics. The role played by Al Jazeera in reshaping media communication and translation across the Arab world and beyond is also considered, in an attempt to grasp the social, political and ultimately ideological implications of its strategies, as well as its power in significantly orienting traditionally imperialist, Western colossi like Disney. A comparative analysis of the original English TV series Aladdin, its Egyptian dubbed version and MSA redubbing follows, providing evidence for this new trend in audiovisual translation aimed at Arabic speakers the world over.