The dynamic socio-cultural interactions in translating musicals’ librettos
A case study on the Chinese version of Mamma Mia!
When translating musicals’ librettos from one culture to another, what rôles do socio-cultural factors play? How
are they negotiated during the development of the target text? Drawing on some of the major concepts from Actor Network Theory,
this study looks at an example from the Mandarin Chinese translation of Mamma Mia! which has recently been
performed on the Chinese mainland. It investigates how translators respond to the target socio-cultural context during their
libretto translation. The findings suggest that, when translating Mamma Mia! into Chinese, translators operate in
a dynamic network of multiple perspectives. Their consumer-oriented interactions with the stakeholders, together with
socio-cultural factors, play important rôles in creating resonance with the target audience, and thus contribute to musicals’
commercial success in the global arena. This study leads to a view of the translator as a mediator in the network responding to
multiple stakeholders and factors to facilitate the development of the target text.
Keywords: libretto translation for musicals, socio-cultural interactions, Actor Network Theory, Chinese, consumer-orientation, traduction des livrets des comédies musicales, théorie de l'acteur-réseau, focalisation sur le consommateur, interactions socioculturelles, chinois