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Title: Translators' communicative assumptions in subtitling Chinese feature films into English
Authors: Zhu, Zhu
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: Medium-bound features and translation strategies are two central issues in the study of subtitling. However, the translator, who reacts to the medium-bound features and opts for translation strategies, has remained outside the focus in research on subtitling. The scarcity of studies on the translator in the context of subtitling seems to suggest that the translator in this type of translation is simply viewed as a transparent vehicle. This study attempts to shed light on the translator’s discursive presence in subtitling by proposing the use of a new concept, the translator’s communicative assumptions. A bottom-up model, rooted in Descriptive Translation Studies, has been established to investigate the translator’s communicative assumptions. This model consists of a comparative phase followed by an analysis phase. The English subtitles of three Chinese feature films were examined using this model in order to reveal the translators’ communicative assumptions. In the comparative phase, the original dialogues and the subtitles are compared in order to identify and categorise micro-structural shifts in the subtitles. In the following analysis phase, Bordwell’s (1997) approach to filmic perception and cognition, Text World Theory and Relevance Theory are adapted and combined to provide a theoretical framework and analytical tools to further scrutinise patterns and tendencies observed at the comparative phase. The comparative-analysis model proves to be a useful tool to reveal translators’ communicative assumptions in subtitling. The findings show that although translation shifts take place at various levels, the translator makes linguistic adjustments to give priority to syuzhet (plot elements) related to his/her own established fabula (story). Consequently, syuzhet is made more explicit; film characters’ inner worlds and personality are enhanced; culture-specific and stylistic features of the original dialogue exchanges are generally diminished. Viewers seem to be regarded as cultural outsiders who have little knowledge of the Chinese culture in general and need additional assistance in the comprehension of certain syuzhet information.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Modern Languages

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