Analysis of English subtitles produced for the Taiwanese movie Cape No.7

Lu, Ching-Ting
Crezee, Ineke Hendrika Martine
Yu, Shanjiang
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Master of Arts in Applied Language Studies
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Auckland University of Technology

The purpose of this thesis is to explore how the approaches identified for the translation of Taiwanese Mandarin dialogues into English subtitles is different from those described in research studies which examined the translation of English film dialogues into Mandarin subtitles using data gathered from a Taiwanese movie entitled Cape No. 7. Taiwanese Mandarin is significantly influenced by the Tai-yu dialect, and in order to carry out the translation of Taiwanese Mandarin, it is important to deal with the functions of the dialect and related culture-specific items (CSIs). Therefore, the researcher of this thesis has investigated whether the translator of Cape No. 7 successfully applied a variety of translation strategies and prioritized the translation criteria well, to enable the target audience to receive the same message of the film as the source audience, especially when subtitling is constrained by time and space. There are two research areas which have been examined: slang and humour. The data analysis of slang scenes included Tai-yu slang and swearing, while humorous scenes were divided into three areas: puns, irony and metaphor. The research data have been analysed by means of analysis diagrams, which were trialled in a pilot study, described in Chapter Three. The pilot study lead to a new categorization based on previous researchers’ taxonomies (Aixelá, 1996; Davies, 2003; Tveit and Fong 2005, as cited in Yang, 2006), and this was applied to the analysis diagrams. According to the findings from the analysis chapters (Chapter Four & Five), the translator of Cape No. 7 preferred to use mostly the paraphrasing strategy in translating Tai-yu slang and humour, and the synonymy strategy in conveying swearing. In addition, the translator often strengthened swear words rather than toning them down in the English subtitles. However, when subtitling humorous scenes, the translator preferred to incorporate two strategies to deal with the cultural barriers when conveying the humorous effect. The compensation strategy was not used often in slang translation. In regard to the translation criteria, pragmatics and accuracy appeared to have been deemed more important by the translator than other criteria. Surprisingly functional equivalence did not seem to have been the translator’s first priority, as suggested by earlier research. Overall, this research study appeared to show that the translator of Cape No. 7 considered the paraphrase strategy to be the most efficient strategy for maintaining CSIs, and that pragmatics and accuracy were the translator’s most important criteria, which differs from the findings of previous research studies.

Translation , Slang , Subtitling , Taiwanese Mandarin , English subtitles , Humour , Tai-yu slang , Swearing
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