Publication details [#59522]

Haikuo, Yu. 2015. Film translation in China. Features and technical constraints of dubbing and subtitling English into Chinese. Babel 61 (2) : 493–510.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Language as a subject
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
Journal DOI


Film translation in China began as early as 1949 and has been developing very fast. This article aims at providing an overview of the current situation of film translation in China and explores the two major types of English-Chinese film translation: dubbing and subtitling. Therefore, it can be roughly divided into two parts. The first part constitutes a general background for the study of film translation. The author of this article first discusses film’s origin and nature, the features of film language and the classification of film translation. Of the four categories of film translation (subtitling, lip-sync dubbing, narration, and free-commentary), dubbing and subtitling are the main forms used in China. Then the differences between the two types and social preference for them are analyzed. The author also presents a summary of film translation’s development and current studies on this topic. The second part probes into the details of dubbing and subtitling. This article investigates the features and technical constraints of dubbing and subtitling. The main techniques adopted in practice are illustrated through specific examples. Both forms have their relative advantages and disadvantages. In subtitling, standardization and simplification are its two important techniques. Standardization is concerned with the transfer of text mode – from spoken text to written text, while simplification is related to the technical constraints in subtitling, namely spatial and temporal constraints. In dubbing, the translator should make his translation fit into the pictures and synchronize the lines and the pictures, so lip synchronization, gestures and pauses are the major constraints in dubbing. As the two main forms of film translation in China, dubbing and subtitling coexist and compete with each other in the market.