How does Italy deal with ‘adattamento-dialoghi’. And, more importantly, what is it?
By Silvia Maragliano
Along with dubbing, adattamento dialoghi (dialogues adaptation) is a legitimate form of art in Italy.
So much so, that this country is one of those, if not the only one, where an institution exists representing AVT workers, particularly the so-called adattatori-dialoghisti, dubbing professionals, as well as several other professionals in the field.
In this article, we would like to tell you a bit about the Italian adattamento-dialoghi and the history of the professional association that puts together a number of professionals: Associazione Italiana Dialoghisti Adattatori Cinetelevisivi–that is AIDAC.
AIDAC was founded in 1976 and, at the beginning, it only had a limited membership. All of its members were adattatori-dialoghisti, and all of them shared a theatrical or cinematographic background.
Despite the fact that today AIDAC membership has grown compared to the time in which it was born, its foundational goals as a professional association remain unchanged. AIDAC offers a way to face new markets together, and to protect the interests of professionals who already are in the market.
On the other hand, the association acknowledges that the market is changing and is open to younger, fresher professionals with a different background, who are now moving their first steps in the field. This is why AIDAC now is also determined to promote a healthy competitive environment, in which everybody can benefit from each other.
Thanks to AIDAC, adattatori-dialoghisti have been acknowledged as legitimate authors, whose work is entitled to and protected by author’s rights.
As a representative of a great number of dialogues adaptation and dubbing professionals, AIDAC is one of the major decision makers in the field, also from a regulatory point of view.
In fact, Italy is the only country where these professionals are protected by a collective agreement. The agreement defines the role of the most important professionals in the field, how long they can work every day (in case of dubbing professionals, for example), and how much each of them is entitled to for their job. In fact, this agreement is so paramount because it is the only one in the field that sets out a minimum wage.
We saw that some of AIDAC’s goals have not changed with the passing of time. Of course, if the association wants to be ready to face new markets, it also has to acknowledge what in the market is changing and how. One new aspect of the market is that there are now many young professionals interested in entering it. What is the problem with that, if any? Just one, which is not really a problem, more a plot twist: these new, young professionals’ background.
In fact, while in the past adattatori-dialoghisti used to be theatre or movie actors and actresses, now they are linguists. What is the difference, you may ask? The difference lies in what each of these two groups knows.
On the one hand, first adattatori-dialoghisti did not use to master perfectly the source language–or, at least, that was not a top-priority requirement–yet they could certainly count on their knowledge of dramaturgy, character building, and the language of cinema and theatre.
On the other hand, recent adattatori-dialoghisti are true linguists, graduating from language and translation schools. Their background is made up of literature, linguistics, and translation studies. But they lack almost any knowledge of the dynamics and subtleties of filmic texts.
One may ask if and why is the artistic background so valuable? Well, the answer to that is: Yes. And that is because of what adattamento-dialoghi actually is.
With adattamento-dialoghi we refer to dialogues adaptation as the translation and adaptation of a movie or program script from its original language to a target language.
The collective agreement (CCNL, Art. 2 par. 5) defines adattatori-dialoghisti as professionals tasked with translating and adapting in a given target language movies or other foreign material to be broadcast in another country so that the nature of the original work is preserved.
We see then that it is not mere translation because one should be aware not only of single words, but also of rhythm, lip synchronization, field size, and many other subtleties that are typical of a filmic text. Like subtitling, adattamento-dialoghi is quite technical, and not only a creative job.
With that definition in mind, to adapt to the new face of the market AIDAC organizes and supports, among other things, professional meetings, open both to AIDAC members and non-members, to fulfill two purposes:
- Trying to fill the gap between what schools now offer and how the real professional world works by talking about how adattamento-dialoghi is done, explaining how tricky it can be, and what tricks adattatori-dialoghisti can hide up their sleeve to face its challenges;
- Making the old and the new generation meet and reflect together upon the most recent demands of industry stakeholders, from big major industry players such as Disney to big corporations and new stakeholders such as the so-called ‘big N.’
In the near future, we will see in more depth how the market has changed. In conclusion, change can be scary but there is no reason to panic. A strong community in which professionals support each other is a powerful tool with which to face any new challenge.
Author: Silvia Maragliano
 AIDAC does not represent subtitling professionals per se, for whom associations are much more common and widespread all over the world. Subtitling is also mentioned in the collective agreement, which only regulates a particular case, that is when material that has already been adapted into Italian has to be subtitled and the task is assigned to adattatori-dialoghisti themselves, who perform it based on their own dubbed script. In everyday, nowadays practice, this is not too often the case, and subtitles are made based on their English version–or in whatever language they are originally crafted–, even if the same program has already been adapted and dubbed into Italian before.
 This means that anyone who either doesn’t pay their professionals or works for less than the minimum wage is acting in breach of a binding contract according to the Italian legislation.
 We will talk about these meetings in a future blog post.