Fansubbing in China: Technology-facilitated activism in translation

Dingkun Wang and Xiaochun Zhang

Abstract

This paper seeks to explore the socio-political tensions between freedom and constraints in the Chinese fansubbing networks. It approaches the development of fansubbing in China as a process of technology democratisation with the potential to liberate ordinary citizens from authoritarian and commercial imperatives, enabling them to contest official state domination. The paper draws on the strategies adopted by fansubbing groups to organise their working practices and interactive social activities with a view to engaging target audiences. Both facets complement each other and bring to the fore the ‘gamified’ system of fansubbing networks. Gamification enables ordinary citizens to translate, distribute and consume foreign audiovisual products in a strategic move that pits collective activism against government dominance.

Keywords
Table of contents

Translation technology has broadened the spectrum of translation scholarship and blurred the boundaries between professional and non-professional fields (Pérez-González and Susam-Saraeva 2012). As a response, research in translation studies has begun to analyse the interplay between human and non-human agents in the process of translation as well as the influence of such interplay on the outcome of translation (Bowker 2006; Moorkens et al. 2014; Olohan 2011). Given the increasing importance of translation technologies, the acquisition of technological skills is deemed key to the development of translation competence (Quah 2006). Even so, despite the ever greater automation envisaged by machine translation technology (Kenny 2011), new technologies and tools such as translation memories are unlikely to replace human translators. Computer-aided translation practice has, rather, increasingly become “a decentered process conducted by teams of people linked electronically through technological systems” (Tymoczko 2005, 1089), where the shift from the individual to the group is a consequence of the “increased networking and interdependence of the world” (Tymoczko 2009, 401). Fansubbing exemplifies this shift, and it pushes (traditional) ethical and (commercial) copyright boundaries (Dwyer 2012).

Full-text access is restricted to subscribers. Log in to obtain additional credentials. For subscription information see Subscription & Price. Direct PDF access to this article can be purchased through our e-platform.

References

Bai, Siying
2013 “Recent Developments in the Chinese Film Censorship System.” Research Papers. Paper 377. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University. http://​opensiuc​.lib​.siu​.edu​/cgi​/viewcontent​.cgi​?article​=1478​&context​=gs​_rp
Berdou, Evangelia
2010Organization in Open Source Communities: At the Crossroads of the Gift and Market Economies. London: Routledge. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Bowker, Lynne
2006 “Translation Memory and ‘Text’.” In Lexicography, Terminology and Translation: Text-based Studies in Honour of Ingrid Meyer, ed. by Lynne Bowker, 175–187. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Brough, Melissa M., and Sangita Shresthova
2012 “Fandom Meets Activism: Rethinking Civic and Political Participation.” Transformative Works and Cultures 10. http://​journal​.transformativeworks​.org​/index​.php​/twc​/article​/view​/303​/265Google Scholar
Burgess, Jean
2006 “Hearing Ordinary Voices: Cultural Studies, Vernacular Creativity and Digital Storytelling.” Continuum 20 (2): 201–214. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Calkins, Mary Lynne
1998 “Censorship in Chinese Cinema.” Hastings Communication and Entertainment Law Journal 21 (2): 239–338.Google Scholar
Chan, Mei-hung
2007 “One Nation, Two Translations: China’s Censorship of Hilary Clinton’s Memoir.” In Translating and Interpreting Conflict, ed. by Myriam Salama-Carr, 119–131. Amsterdam: Rodopi. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Chang, Nam Fung
2008 “Censorship in Translation and Translation Studies in Present-Day China.” In Translation and Censorship in Different Times and Landscapes, ed. by Teresa Seruya, and Maria Lin Moniz, 229–240. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.Google Scholar
2015 “Auto-Image and Norms in Source-Initiated Translation in China.” Asia Pacific Translation and Intercultural Studies 2 (2): 96–107. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Chen, Yi, and Jianlei Yan
2014 “The Latest Development in the Fansubbing Network: Pirates Become Fire-Bringers.” Accessed November 13, 2016. http://​cul​.qq​.com​/a​/20141013​/016609​.htm
Cornelius, Sheila, and Ian Haydn Smith
2002New Chinese Cinema: Challenging Representations. London: Wallflower.Google Scholar
Creemer, Rogier
2012Explaining Audiovisual Media Piracy in China – Media Control, Enforcement and Globalization. PhD diss. Maastricht University.Google Scholar
Damm, Jens
2007 “The Internet and the Fragmentation of Chinese Society.” Critical Asian Studies 39 (2): 273–294. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Deterding, Sebastian
2012 “Gamification: Designing for Motivation.” Interactions 19 (4): 14–17. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Diaz-Cintas, Jorge, and Pablo Muñoz-Sanchez
2006 “Fansubs: Audiovisual Translation in an Amateur Environment.” The Journal of Specialised Translation (6). http://​www​.jostrans​.org​/issue06​/art​_diaz​_munoz​.php.Google Scholar
Du, Zhifeng, Yao Li, and Gang Cheng
2013Basic Literacy in AV Translation & Research. Hangzhou: Zhejiang University Press.Google Scholar
Duncombe, Stephen
2002Cultural Resistance Reader. London: Verso.Google Scholar
Dwyer, Tessa
2012 “Fansub Dreaming on ViKi: ‘Don’t Just Watch But Help When You Are Free’.” The Translator 18 (2): 217–243. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Egenfeldt-Nielsen, Simon, Jonas Heide Smith, and Susana Pajares Tosca
2013Understanding Video Games: The Essential Introduction. 2nd ed. London: Routledge. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Feenberg, Andrew
2010Between Reason and Experience: Essays in Technology and Modernity. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Fung, Anthony Y. H
2009 “Fandom, Youth and Consumption in China.” European Journal of Cultural Studies 12 (3): 285–303. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Gambier, Yves
2015 “Crowdsourcing and Resistance?” In European Society for Translation Studies Newsletter 47 (November 2015): 19–20.Google Scholar
Gao, Yang
2012TV Talk: American Television, Chinese Audiences, and the Pursuit of an Authentic Self. PhD diss. Vanderbilt University.Google Scholar
Gao, Zhihong
2009 “Serving a Stir-Fry of Market, Culture and Politics – On Globalisation and Film Policy in Greater China.” Policy Studies 30 (4): 423–438. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Geng, Qiang
2014 “How Government-Patronized Translation of Chinese Literature is Received – A Case Study of the Panda Books Series.” Comparative Literature in China 1: 66–77.Google Scholar
Hartley, John
2004 “The ‘Value Chain of Meaning’ and the New Economy.” International Journal of Cultural Studies 7 (1): 129–141. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
He, Tianxiang
2014 “What Can We Learn from Japanese Anime Industries? The Differences Between the Domestic and Oversea Copyright Protection Strategies towards Fan Activities.” American Journal of Comparative Law 64 (2): 1–32. http://​www​.ingentaconnect​.com​/content​/ascl​/ajcl​/2014​/00000062​/00000004​/art00005. doi: Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Herold, David
2008 “Development of a Civic Society Online? Internet Vigilantism and State Control in Chinese Cyberspace.” Asia Journal of Global Studies 2 (1): 26–37.Google Scholar
Howe, Jeff
2008Crowdsourcing: How the Power of the Crowd is Driving the Future of Business. London: Random House.Google Scholar
Hsiao, Chi-hua
2014 “The Moralities of Intellectual Property: Subtitle Groups as Cultural Brokers in China.” The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology 15 (3): 218–241. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Hu, Kelly
2013 “Competition and Collaboration: Chinese Video Websites, Subtitle Groups, State Regulation and Market.” International Journal of Cultural Studies 17: 437–451. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Jenkins, Henry
2014 “Participatory Culture: From Co-Creating Brand Meaning to Changing the World.” GfK Marketing Intelligence Review 6 (2): 34–39. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Ji, Le
2015 “Where is China’s Translation Policy Going in the Post-Fansubbing Era? – From the Perspective of Value Orientation.” 6th International Conference Media for All – Audiovisual Translation and Media Accessibility: Global Challenges . Sydney: Western Sydney University.
Jiang, Min
2016 “Chinese Internet Business and Human Rights.” Business and Human Rights Journal 1 (1): 139–144. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Kenny, Dorothy
2011 “Electronic Tools and Resources for Translators.” In The Oxford Handbook of Translation Studies, ed. by Kirsten Malmkjær, and Kevin Windle, 455–472. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Klang, Mathias
2004 “Civil Disobedience Online.” Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society 2 (2): 75–83. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Kligler-Vilenchik, Neta, Joshua McVeigh-Schultz, Christine Weitbrecht, and Chris Tokuhama
2011 “Experiencing Fan Activism: Understanding the Power of Fan Activist Organizations Through Members’ Narratives.” Transformative Works and Cultures 10. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Kuhn, Robert Lawrence
2010How China’s Leaders Think: The Inside Story of China’s Reform and What This Means for the Future. Singapore: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
Kung, Szu-We
2016 “Audienceship and Community of Practice: An Exploratory Study of Chinese Fansubbing Communities.” Asia Pacific Translation and Intercultural Studies 3 (3): 252–266. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Lam, Yung Adam
2000Identity, Tradition and Globalism in Post-Cultural Revolution Chinese Feature Films. PhD diss. The University of Auckland.Google Scholar
Lv, Yuyong, and Min Li
2013 “On the Entertainment-Oriented Rewriting in the Subtitle Translation of English Movies.” The Chinese Translators Journal 34 (3): 105–109.Google Scholar
2015 “On the New Features of Online Film and TV Subtitle Translation in China.” International Journal of English Linguistics 5 (6): 122–127. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
MacKinnon, Rebecca
2008 “Flatter World and Thicker Walls? Blogs, Censorship and Civic Discourse in China.” Public Choice 134 (1/2): 31–46. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Makinen, Julie
2015 “Leaving China? Your Books, Maps and DVDs May Be Confiscated.” Los Angeles Times October 26, 2015. http://​www​.latimes​.com​/world​/asia​/la​-fg​-china​-censors​-20151026​-story​.htmlGoogle Scholar
Massidda, Serenella
2015Audiovisual Translation in the Digital Age: The Italian Fansubbing Phenomenon. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Meng, Bingchun, and Fei Wu
2013 “Commons/Commodity: Peer Production Caught in the Web of the Commercial Market.” Information, Communication & Society 16 (1): 125–145. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of the People’s Republic of China
2016 “Regulations for Supervising Online Distribution and Publication” [in Chinese]. Accessed November 12, 2016. http://​www​.miit​.gov​.cn​/n1146290​/n4388791​/c4638978​/content​.html
Moorkens, Joss, Stephen Doherty, Dorothy Kenny, and Sharon O’Brien
2014 “A Virtuous Circle: Laundering Translation Memory Data Using Statistical Machine Translation.” Perspectives 22 (3): 291–303. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
O’Hagan, Minako
2009 “Evolution of User-Generated Translation: Fansubs, Translation Hacking and Crowdsourcing.” Journal of Internationalisation and Localisation 1 (1): 94–121. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
2011 “Community Translation: Translation as a Social Activity and its Possible Consequences in the Advent of Web 2.0 and Beyond.” Linguistica Antverpiensia, New Series – Themes in Translation Studies (10): 11–23. https://​lans​-tts​.ua​.ac​.be​/index​.php​/LANS​-TTS​/article​/view​/275Google Scholar
Olohan, Maeve
2011 “Translators and Translation Technology: The Dance of Agency.” Translation Studies 4 (3): 342–357. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Pang, Laikwan
2011 “The State Against Ghosts: A Genealogy of China’s Film Censorship Policy.” Screen 52 (4): 461–476. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
2012Creativity and Its Discontents: China’s Creative Industries and Intellectual Property Rights Offenses. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Pérez-González, Luis
2007 “Intervention in New Amateur Subtitling Cultures: A Multimodal Account.” Linguistica Antverpiensia, New Series – Themes in Translation Studies (6): 67–80. https://​lans​.ua​.ac​.be​/index​.php​/LANS​-TTS​/article​/view​/180Google Scholar
2012 “Co-creational Subtitling in the Digital Media: Transformative and Authorial Practices.” International Journal of Cultural Studies 16 (1): 3–21. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Pérez-González, Luis, and Şebnem Susam-Saraeva
2012 “Non-professionals Translating and Interpreting: Participatory and Engaged Perspectives.” The Translator 18 (2): 149–165. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Qian, Shaochang
2009 “Screen Translation in Mainland China.” In Dubbing and Subtitling in a World Context, ed. by Gilbert C. F. Fong, and Kenneth K. L. Au, 13–22. Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press.Google Scholar
Quah, Chiew Kin
2006Translation and Technology. New York: Palgrave MacMillan. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Rowe, David, Andy Ruddock, and Brett Hutchins
2010 “Cultures of Complaint: Online Fan Message Boards and Networked Digital Media Sport Communities.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 16 (3): 298–315. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
SAPPRFT (State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television)
2014“Announcement by the SAPPRFT on Further Supervision on Online Broadcast of Foreign Films and TV Series” [in Chinese]. Accessed November 13, 2016. http://​dy​.chinasarft​.gov​.cn​/html​/www​/article​/2014​/01493bffdb6528a0402881a7470edaf0​.html
Scholz, Trebor
2013Digital Labour: The Internet as Playground and Workplace. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
Tan, Zaixi
2015 “Censorship in Translation: The Case of the People’s Republic of China.” Neohelicon 42 (1): 313–339. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Tang, Lijun, and Peidong Yang
2011“Symbolic Power and the Internet: The Power of a ‘Horse’.” Media, Culture & Society 33 (5): 675–691. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Terill, Bret
2008 “My Coverage of Lobby of the Social Gaming Summit.” Accessed November 12, 2016. http://​www​.bretterrill​.com​/2008​/06​/my​-coverage​-of​-lobby​-of​-social​-gaming​.html
Tsui, Lokman
2003 “The Panopticon as the Antithesis of a Space of Freedom Control and Regulation of the Internet in China.” China Information 17 (2): 65–82. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Tymoczko, Maria
2005 “Trajectories of Research in Translation Studies.” Meta 50 (4): 1082–1097. http://​www​.erudit​.org​/revue​/meta​/2005​/v50​/n4​/012062ar​.html%3Flang%3Des. doi: Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
2009 “Why Translators Should Want to Internationalize Translation Studies.” The Translator 15 (2): 401–421. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Voice of America
2016“China Will Ban Foreign Media from Distributing Information Online Since March 10 2016” [in Chinese]. Accessed November 12, 2016. http://​www​.voachinese​.com​/a​/china​-ban​-foreign​-media​-online​-20160219​/3198284​.html
Volland, Nicolai
2008 “Translating the Socialist State: Cultural Exchange, National Identity, and the Socialist World in the Early PRC.” Twentieth-century China 33 (2): 51–72. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Wang, Shaojung Sharon, and Junhao Hong
2010 “Discourse Behind the Forbidden Realm: Internet Surveillance and Its Implications on China’s Blogosphere.” Telematics and Informatics 27 (1): 67–78. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Wang, Shujen
2003Framing Piracy: Globalization and Film Distribution in Greater China. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefileld Publisher.Google Scholar
2010 “Piracy and the DVD/VCD Market: Contradiction and Paradoxes.” In Art, Politics, and Commerce in Chinese Cinema, ed. by Ying Zhu, and Stanley Rosen, 71–84. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.Google Scholar
Wang, Xiaobo, and Baotong Gu
2016 “The Communication Design of WeChat: Ideological as well as Technical Aspects of Social Media.” Communication Design Quarterly Review 4 (1): 23–35. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Weber, Ian, and Lu Jia
2007 “Internet and Self-regulation in China: The Cultural Logic of Controlled Commodification.” Media, Culture & Society 29 (5): 772–789. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Wellman, Barry
2001 “Physical Place and Cyberplace: The Rise of Personalized Networking.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 25 (2): 227–252. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Wilson, Magnus
2011The Politics of Enjoyment: The Media Viewing Preferences and Practices of Young Higher-educated Chinese. PhD diss. University of Westminster.Google Scholar
Xie, Shaobo
2012 “Translation and Transformation: Theory in China and China in Theory.” International Social Science Journal 63 (207–208): 79–91. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Xie, Tianhai
2012Repression and Ideological Management: Chinese Film Censorship After 1976 and its Impacts on Chinese Cinema. MA thesis Florida State University.Google Scholar
Yan, Jinfang
2015 “A Review of the Researches on WeChat.” Proceedings of the International Conference on Social Science and Technology Education (ICSSTE 2015) . http://​www​.atlantis​-press​.com​/php​/download​_paper​.php​?id​=18851
Yang, Jung Yun
2009 “Bringing the Question of Chinese IPR Enforcement to the WTO Under Trips: An Effective Strategy or a Meaningless and Overused Tactic by the US.” Pittsburgh Journal of Technology Law and Policy 10: 1–27.Google Scholar
Yang, Peidong, Lijun Tang, and Xuan Wang
2015 “Diaosi as Infrapolitics: Scatological Tropes, Identity-Making and Cultural Intimacy on China’s Internet.” Media, Culture & Society 37 (2): 197–214. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Yang, Xinjie
2014 “YYeTs’ Website is Shut Down in China, Despite a Short Two-Day ‘Resurrection’.” Accessed November 13, 2016. http://​www​.thepaper​.cn​/newsDetail​_forward​_1281888
Yeh, Emilie Yueh-yu, and Darrell William Davis
2008 “Re-nationalizing China’s Film Industry: Case Study on the China Film Group and Film Marketization.” Journal of Chinese Cinemas 1: 37–51. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Zhang, Lena L
2006 “Behind the ‘Great Firewall’: Decoding China’s Internet Media Policies from the Inside.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 12 (3): 271–291. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Zhang, Weiyu, and Chengting Mao
2013 “Fan Activism Sustained and Challenged: Participatory Culture in Chinese Online Translation Communities.” Chinese Journal of Communication 6 (1): 45–61. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Zhang, Yin
2013 “A Preliminary Analysis of Contemporary Online Distribution of Films.” Short Stories: Original Creation 8: 81–82.Google Scholar
Zhao, Bin
1998 “Popular Family Television and Party Ideology: The Spring Festival Eve Happy Gathering.” Media, Culture & Society 20 (1): 43–58. http://​journals​.sagepub​.com​/doi​/pdf​/10​.1177​/016344398020001004. doi: Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Zhao, Yuezhi
2008Communication in China: Political Economy, Power, and Conflict. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.Google Scholar
Zhu, Jianlan
2008 “Roadblock and Roadmap: Circumventing Press Censorship in China in the New Media Dimension.” University of La Verne Law Review 30: 404–466.Google Scholar