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International Journal of the Sociology of Language

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Ed. by Garcia Otheguy, Ofelia / Duchêne, Alexandre / Coulmas, Florian

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Volume 2018, Issue 251


The dialect(ic)s of control and resistance: intralingual audiovisual translation in Chinese TV drama

Leo Tak-hung Chan
Published Online: 2018-04-12 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijsl-2018-0005


There are two types of intralingual translation in contemporary China: diachronic and synchronic. While the former involves rewriting older texts in the modern tongue, the latter involves translation between Putonghua and local/regional Chinese dialects. Two modes of intralingual translation – dubbing and subtitling – will be examined in this article, in terms of their use in TV serials produced in China since the 2000s. The evidence (largely Cantonese dramas in Guangdong) shows that the use of a control-resistance paradigm to understand the relationship between the national language and Chinese dialects is fraught with problems. The paradigm has often been used, albeit in different ways, by researchers of China’s central-local relations, scholars of dialect films, and theorists of minority language translation. However, to characterize dubbing into Chinese dialects as “resistance”, and subtitling into Putonghua as “control”, is nothing less than a simplification of sociolinguistic realities that reveals a lack of awareness of how translation mediates between the different speech varieties in a diglossic society.

Keywords: intralingual translation; dubbing; subtitling; dialects; national language


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About the article

Published Online: 2018-04-12

Published in Print: 2018-04-25

Citation Information: International Journal of the Sociology of Language, Volume 2018, Issue 251, Pages 89–109, ISSN (Online) 1613-3668, ISSN (Print) 0165-2516, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijsl-2018-0005.

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