A CASE STUDY OF SUBTITLE TRANSLATION ON TWILIGHT FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF FUNCTIONAL EQUIVALENCE
Subtitle translation belongs to an emerging field of translation, while Eugene Nida’s function equivalence is quite a familiar term. This paper aims to combine these two together. It first focuses on the definition and classification of subtitle translation, discusses about the research results from domestic and abroad as well as the features and difficulties. It then emphasizes the necessity to analyze subtitle translation from the perspective of functional equivalence. Finally, based on the official translation version of the recent hot movie Twilight, it explores the different translation methods with the help of functional equivalence after classifying and analyzing the specific corpus. With all of these, this paper can give readers a more direct and deeper understanding of subtitle translation.
Key words：subtitle translation; functional equivalence; Twilight
1. Introduction 1
2. General Review of Subtitle Translation 2
2.1 Definition and Classification 2
2.1.1 Definition of Subtitle Translation 2
2.1.2 Classification of Subtitle Translation 3
2.2 Literature Review 3
2.2.1 Studies on Subtitle Translation Abroad 4
2.2.2 Studies on Subtitle Translation at Home 5
2.3 Features of Subtitle Translation 6
2.4 Difficulties of Subtitle Translation 7
3. Functional Equivalence and Subtitle Translation 9
3.1 Introduction to Functional Equivalency 9
3.2 Necessity to Analyze Subtitle Translation through Functional Equivalence 10
4. A Case Study 12
4.1 Introduction to Twilight 12
4.2 Detailed Analysis of Translation Strategies 13
4.2.1 Cultural Specific Terms 13
4.2.2 Idioms 14
4.2.3 Rhetorical Devices 15
4.3 Suggestion for Translation Methods 20
5. Conclusion 21
Although the study of translation enjoys quite a long history, the research on subtitle translation didn’t appear until the birth of film art, the late 1920s. Unlike the traditional ones, which are mainly used to make religious, literary, scientific or philosophical texts available to people, this new field pays much attention to the words printed over a film in a foreign language to translate what is being said by the actors . Europe was in the forefront to open up this new world, and right now, subtitle translation has become an emerging translation field which enjoys popularity all over the world.
Functional equivalence is one of the most important theories put forward by Eugene A. Nida. It is defined “in terms of the degree to which the receptors of the message in the receptor language respond to it in substantially the same manner as the receptors in the source language” 159. This theory gets rid of the bondage of elements of language, such as grammar, sentence structure and shifts its focus more on reader’s response, thus providing a completely new horizon for subtitle translation.
The paper here is intended to look at subtitle translation from the perspective of functional equivalence. It first gives a general review of subtitle translation, including definition and classification, literature review both at home and abroad as well as the features and difficulties. It then focuses on the necessity to analyze subtitle translation through Nida’s functional equivalence. Finally, according to the official translation version of a recent hot movie Twilight, it explores the detailed analysis of translation strategies under the guidance of functional equivalence, thus providing readers a more direct and deep understanding of subtitle translation.
2. General Review of Subtitle Translation
Subtitle translation was born with the appearance of movies. Compared with other forms of translation, the history of this new type is rather short. Even though, subtitle translation has undergone practical and theoretical development. This chapter approaches the practical and theoretical issues from the following perspectives: definition and classification of subtitle translation, literature review at home and abroad, features and difficulties of subtitle translation.
2.1 Definition and Classification
2.1.1 Definition of Subtitle Translation
According to The New Oxford Dictionary of English, subtitle translation is the translation of captions displayed at the bottom of a cinema or television screen that transcribe the dialogue or narrative .
And Merriam Webster defines it as “a printed statement or fragment of dialogue appearing on the screen between the scenes of a silent motion picture or appearing as a translation at the bottom of the screen during the scenes of a motion picture or television show in a foreign language”.
Some scholars also put forward their own ideas: Raphael referred to subtitle translation as a “double conversion” from one language to another and from one medium to another 48; Nedergaard-Larsen thought it was a special type of language transfer; while Gottlieb perceived it as the translation of the spoken (written) source text of an audiovisual product into a written target text which added onto the images of the original product, usually at the bottom of the screen.
Although there are some slight differences among all of these definitions, it tells us a fact – subtitle translation supplies information unavailable from the phonetic dialogues and visual pictures. Though this may cause the visual split for the viewers, subtitle translation provides us a faster way of getting new information and appreciation of multimedia products.
2.1.2 Classification of Subtitle Translation
Subtitle translation can be classified according to different criteria. Gottlieb suggested that subtitle translation be categorized from the linguistic and technical aspects respectively.
Linguistically, we get two types of subtitle translation:
(1) Intralingual subtitle translation. It mainly deals with the translation of domestic programs for the deaf and hard of hearing as well as foreign-language programs for language learners. This kind of subtitle translation is vertical, in the sense that it involves taking speech down in writing, changing mode but not language.
(2) Interlingual subtitle translation. This kind of subtitle translation is diagonal, in the sense that the subtitler crosses over from speech in one language to write in another, thus changing mode and language.
Technically, another distinction can be drawn:
(1) Open subtitle translation. It includes: cinema subtitling, which is either a physical part of the film or transmitted separately and interlingual television subtitling transmitted terrestrially and broadcast as part of the television picture.
(2) Closed subtitle translation. It includes: television subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing, selected by the individual viewer on a remote-control unit and generated by a decoder in the television set, which allows different speech communities to receive versions of the same program simultaneously 101.
In spite of the various kinds of subtitle translation, this paper is restricted to interlingual, open subtitle translation with specific reference to the film field.