Translating Code-Switching on the Screen

Spanglish and L3-as Theme




Multilingualism, third language (L3), code-switching, alternating languages,, Spanglish, L3-as Theme


This paper outlines the complexity of accounting for multilingual audiovisual films for the purpose of their translation. In particular it focuses on an issue that has not received much scholarly attention so far, the fictional representation of code-switching in feature films, with particular attention to Spanglish, given that language and its interlinguistic barriers towards interpersonal communication is one of the main themes of the film. The paper distinguishes different types of language shifts (alternations) as part of a film’s plot or script, like straightforward translation between characters, in order to better characterize code-switching as concept borrowed from sociolinguistics. This, in turns allows for a broader notion of language shifts, of which code-shifting is a part. Finally, the paper also includes a three-type classification of films depending on the amount and importance of languages other than the main language of a film: anecdotal, recurrent, and L3-as-theme, L3 being the notation system used to label all instances of languages in a text (written, oral or audiovisual) other than the main language.


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Author Biographies

Montse Corrius, Universitat de Vic- Universitat central de Catalunya

Senior Lecturer at the University of Vic – Central University of Catalonia (UVic-UCC) where she teaches English for specific purposes at undergraduate level and audiovisual translation at postgraduate level. She is member of the research group TRACTE (Traducció Audiovisual, Comunicació i Territori; SGR 2014, 565) where she leads the line of research on Audiovisual translation. Her main research interests include audiovisual translation (with a special focus on multilingual texts, gender and accessibility). She has lectured on these areas of research and published several articles in prestigious international journals such as Target, The Interpreter and and Translator Trainer, Perspectives: Studies in Translatology, Bulletin Hispanique, ELT Journal, The Interpreter and Translator Trainer, among others. She was one of the main researchers of the funded project TRAFILM, on the translation of multilingual films in Spain ( - FFI2014-55952-P), and at present she is one of the researches of the MUFiTAVi Project funded by the Spanish Ministry of Finance and Competitiveness PGC2018-099823-B-I00).

Patrick Zabalbeascoa, Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Full Professor in translation theory and AVT within the Translation and Language Sciences Department of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, in Barcelona, Spain, where he lectures in text studies applied to translation and media translation, and the Barcelona School of Management (UPF), where he has management and core faculty posts for its Master's Degree in Literary and Audiovisual Translation. He is a member of the GEDIT and Trafilm research groups, and principal researcher for the MUFiTAVi project. He has published widely and internationally on topics to do with AVT, humour translation and translation theory. He has worked on nationally and internationally funded research projects, like ClipFlair ( In 2018, he received the Xènia Martínez award from the Spanish Association of Audiovisual Translators for his contribution towards developing and dignifying the profession and its related academic research.




How to Cite

Corrius, M., & Zabalbeascoa, P. (2019). Translating Code-Switching on the Screen: Spanglish and L3-as Theme. Journal of Audiovisual Translation, 2(2), 72–91.