Indirect translation of foreign films for cinematic release in China

Haina Jin, Yichi Zhang and Xiaomin He
Communication University of China | Hebei Institute of Communications

Scholars have acknowledged the widespread use of indirect translation in audiovisual translation. Some researchers have made use of text analysis to explore the effects of indirect translation on voiceover and subtitling. However, a bigger picture of indirect translation in the audiovisual translation landscape is yet to be painted. We create a database of 242 foreign films, which contains all the imported films for cinematic release in China in 2018 and 2019, and do a quantitative and qualitative analysis to present an overview of indirect translation of foreign films for cinematic release in China. Professionals from film translation studios in China are interviewed to reveal the indirect translation process. Furthermore, we use Prooi ‘Prey’ (Maas 2016), a Dutch horror film directed by Dick Maas, and its Chinese subtitled version as a case study to investigate the implications of indirect translation on the ultimate target text in the Chinese context.

Publication history
Table of contents

Different terms have been used to describe translation between two languages with a third language working as an intermediary, including relay, chain, double, secondary, or mediated translation (Assis Rosa, Pieta, and Bueno Maia 2017, 113–132). Kittel and Frank (1991, 3) define indirect translation as translation work “based on a source which is itself a translation into a language other than the language of the original, or the target language,” while Gambier (1994, 413) defines it as “a translation of a translation.” In this article, we opt for the narrower definition suggested by Kittel and Frank (1991).

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