Why Bother? – Subtitling with Cantonese

Date: 23/06/2011

Time: 7:00-9:00PM

Location: Centre for Translation, DLB 601, David C. Lam Building, Shaw Campus, Hong Kong Baptist University, Renfrew Road, Kowloon Tong

Speaker: Dr Gloria Lee Kwok-kan

Translation Seminar Series


Subtitles do not simply transcribe the dialogues of a film. Subtitles involve specific groups of audience and seek to enhance their viewing experience. Based on this function of subtitling, I examine the Chinese/Cantonese subtitles provided in the DVDs of two films: The Brothers Grimm (2005) and Shrek 2 (2004). I demonstrate how the subtitlers explore room for manoeuvre as they match the original scripts and visual images with Hong Kong style Cantonese expressions to create meaning catering for the target group. I start with a brief account of written Cantonese in Hong Kong society and why ‘written Cantonese’ appears to be an obscure option for subtitles from the outset. This is followed by an analysis of the subtitles of the two films with examples illustrating different linguistic and translational styles adopted by the subtitlers to impress the target audiences. The two cases of subtitling will shed light on the relation between the practice of the subtitler and the conception of translation (the function of subtitling).

About the Speaker:

LEE Kwok-kan, Gloria has recently completed her PhD thesis which examines the translator as an agent within the social structure. She is now teaching as an instructor in the Department of Translation, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Her current research interests include the sociological approach in translation, audiovisual translation, translating narrative discourse and translation discourse in modern China.

Why Bother? – Subtitling with Cantonese
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