A Network of Actors Influencing English Subtitles of Dialects and Other Culture-Specific References in Chinese Films

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dc.contributor.advisor O'Hagan, Minako
dc.contributor.advisor Clark, Paul
dc.contributor.author Sun, Xichen
dc.date.accessioned 2022-09-21T03:35:26Z
dc.date.available 2022-09-21T03:35:26Z
dc.date.issued 2022 en
dc.identifier.uri https://hdl.handle.net/2292/61373
dc.description.abstract Since the 1980s, Chinese films have steadily made their presence felt by scoring key awards at prestigious international film festivals, capturing the English-speaking audience's attention. In particular, the work of the fifth- and sixth-generation directors, such as Zhang Yimou, Chen Kaige, Jia Zhangke and Feng Xiaogang, brought about the visibility of Chinese art films in the international film market. They often depict a strong regional flavour through the use of dialects or other culture-specific references. The increased global exposure highlights the importance of English subtitles and how they deal with the films’ culture-specific elements. Contrary to these characteristics of the original films, however, their English subtitles often display a neutralising tendency in subtitling dialects and other culture-specific references. Motivated by this initial observation, this research seeks empirical evidence of how and why this tendency occurs by considering translation as a product and a process. By combining documentary research and an interview survey, 25 films directed by the above-mentioned directors were analysed for the product-based study, while nine English subtitlers of these films were interviewed. In the product-based data analysis, the strategies of standardisation, omission, substitution, compensation, explicitation, and transposition were identified to neutralise dialects and other culture-specific references. Drawing on actor-network theory, the subtitlers’ interview data are analysed to explore the norms governing the neutralising tendency by paying attention to a network of actors contributing to such a tendency. The process norm is found to influence subtitlers’ strategies, involving textual details, accompanying materials, target audience, technical constraints, non-verbal aural and visual content and other stakeholders (i.e. directors, producers, screenwriters, language experts, and field experts). The evidence points to multiple actors playing a role in shaping the final subtitles, such as other subtitlers or translators and subtitle editors as well as distributors, liaison persons and state policy. The involvement of these actors gives rise to the product norm driving the final subtitling products, which are, in fact, often divergent from the versions initially generated by the main subtitlers. As revealed in the interview-data analysis, subtitlers themselves do not always choose to neutralise dialects and other culture-specific references. However, the pluri-party norms inevitably regulate their subtitling behaviour and eventually form the subtitles with the neutralising feature while revealing certain characteristic aspects of the subtitle production process used in China, particularly for high-profile films destined for art cinemas.
dc.publisher ResearchSpace@Auckland en
dc.relation.ispartof PhD Thesis - University of Auckland en
dc.relation.isreferencedby UoA en
dc.rights Items in ResearchSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.
dc.rights.uri https://researchspace.auckland.ac.nz/docs/uoa-docs/rights.htm en
dc.rights.uri http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/nz/
dc.title A Network of Actors Influencing English Subtitles of Dialects and Other Culture-Specific References in Chinese Films
dc.type Thesis en
thesis.degree.discipline Translation Studies
thesis.degree.grantor The University of Auckland en
thesis.degree.level Doctoral en
thesis.degree.name PhD en
dc.date.updated 2022-08-23T05:22:42Z
dc.rights.holder Copyright: The author en
dc.rights.accessrights http://purl.org/eprint/accessRights/OpenAccess en

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