Asian Studies Seminar | Language and character identity in subtitling: A case study of Forever Enthralled
24 October, 2013
5.30 - 7.00pm
Kenny Wang & Chong Han
University of Western Sydney
Adopting a corpus based approach, this study attempts to analyse character identity in the Chinese film Forever Enthralled (2008) as portrayed in (i) the Chinese original, (ii) Hollywood’s official English subtitles, and (iii) the version by a trainee subtitler. The aim of the study is two-fold. Firstly, to examine whether subtitles can reflect the non-contemporary use of language in subtitles. The setting of the film spans from early to mid-20th century, and the language of the characters reflects the use of language in that time period. Members of a speech community can usually perceive and distinguish with relative ease a stretch of speech as being non-contemporary. In order to preserve the flavour of the original language of the film, the linguistic non-contemporaneity should also be reflected in the English subtitles. Secondly, to discuss whether English subtitle readers can have a comparable cinematic experience and perceive the identity of the characters in a similar fashion. To this end, the discussion focuses on the linguistic constructions of the three main characters, i.e. Mei Lanfang, Qu Qiubai and Meng Xiaodong. The paper concludes with implications for translation and subtitling training.
Kenny Wang is Lecturer in Linguistics, Interpreting & Translation Studies at University of Western Sydney. Kenny holds a PhD in Linguistics from University of Western Sydney. He is a NAATI accredited Professional Translator & Interpreter (English-Chinese). He has been working as a freelance interpreter since 1999, and is a contract subtitler at Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), Australia’s multicultural and multilingual broadcaster.
Chong Han is Associate Lecturer in Linguistics, Interpreting & Translation Studies at University of Western Sydney. She received her PhD in Linguistics from the University of Sydney. She is a NAATI accredited Professional Translator & Interpreter (English-Chinese). She also works as a contract subtitler at Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), Australia’s multicultural and multilingual broadcaster.
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