A Corpus-based Evaluation of English-Mandarin Cultural References between Fansubbing and Official Subtitling

Yadan Zhang (1) , Omer Hassan Ali Mahfoodh (2) , Debbita Ai Lin Tan (3)
(1) School of Languages, Literacies and Translation, Universiti Sains Malaysia , China
(2) School of Languages, Literacies and Translation, Universiti Sains Malaysia , Malaysia
(3) School of Languages, Literacies and Translation, Universiti Sains Malaysia , Malaysia


There has been considerable interest in subtitling strategies in the translation of cultural references. However, there is a lack of studies on subtitling in the Chinese context. The purpose of this study is to compare the subtitling strategies used by fansubbers and official subtitlers when dealing with cultural references in translated Mandarin subtitles. The results showed that 228 cultural references had been found in the two films: The King’s Speech and No Country for Old Men. In addition, fansubbers and official subtitlers did not use three strategies in the selected framework: loan, calque, and compensation. Furthermore, three other strategies were identified in this study that did not fall within the selected framework, namely paraphrase, condensation, and gloss. In addition, the gloss strategy was only found in fansubbing, whereas official subtitlers used omission and lexical-recreation strategies. Some inappropriate or inaccurate subtitling of cultural references can be identified in the fansubbing. Although there was a divergence between the two subtitling groups, the statistical results showed that the differences between these groups in the adoption of subtitling strategies were not statistically significant.

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Yadan Zhang
yadan616@student.usm.my (Primary Contact)
Omer Hassan Ali Mahfoodh
Debbita Ai Lin Tan
Author Biographies

Yadan Zhang, School of Languages, Literacies and Translation, Universiti Sains Malaysia

Zhang Yadan is a lecturer at Zhoukou Normal University in Henan Province, China, and is currently a Ph.D candidate in Translation Studies at the School of Languages, Literacies, and Translation, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). Her research interests encompass intercultural communication, translation theories and practices, audiovisual translation studies, and corpus-based translation studies.

Omer Hassan Ali Mahfoodh, School of Languages, Literacies and Translation, Universiti Sains Malaysia

Omer Hassan Ali Mahfoodh (Ph.D) is a senior lecturer at the School of Languages, Literacies, and Translation, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). His research interests focus on second language Writing, EAP, Applied Linguistics, Discourse Studies, and Second Language Acquisition. Omer Hassan Ali Mahfoodh teaches courses in applied linguistics, EAP, ESP and second language acquisition. ORCID: 0000-0003-1316-9211.

Debbita Ai Lin Tan, School of Languages, Literacies and Translation, Universiti Sains Malaysia

Debbita Tan Ai Lin serves as Senior Lecturer at the School of Languages, Literacies and Translation, Universiti Sains Malaysia. She is keen on interdisciplinary research and her areas of interest include language and media/political studies (focused on persuasion), difficulties in translation, and more recently, the relationship between psychology and linguistic nuances. For more information, https://ppblt.usm.my/index.php/lecturer-profile/163-debbita-tan-dr.

Zhang, Y., Mahfoodh, O. H. A., & Tan, D. A. L. (2024). A Corpus-based Evaluation of English-Mandarin Cultural References between Fansubbing and Official Subtitling. Journal of Intercultural Communication, 24(1), 109–119. https://doi.org/10.36923/jicc.v24i1.291

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