“Omnibus”: A cross-modal experience between translation and adaptation

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We consider the notions of translation and adaptation, and the challenges and limits of achieving new representations in other media that do justice to the original. Our discussion focuses on a cross-modal translation and adaptation experience that breaks new ground in its attempt to transmit concepts and emotions simultaneously through various channels. We present “Omnibus” (Vertical Dance Kate Lawrence 2017), a co-created multi-sensory performance incorporating vertical dance, sound scape, and bilingual audio description. This was based on children’s drawings inspired by Roald Dahl’s writings and Quentin Blake’s illustrations. We discuss the challenges of such a multi-step transfer that incorporates elements of both adaptation and translation. By considering prominent issues in Translation Studies such as the challenges of balancing fidelity and creativity, we identify parallels and joint principles as well as specific challenges encountered in our multi-modal experience. We conclude that with enhanced levels of transfer, some direct translation of meaning might be compromised; however, the multi-modal version allows for much wider accessibility and enhanced experience for all audiences, and more creativity for those involved in creating new translations.


  • Multimodal translation, Adaptation, vertical dance
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-208
JournalJoSTrans: Journal of Specialised Translation
Issue number35
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

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