Translation in the dialect dynamics of a multistandard indigenous language

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


Dialect has been studied as a challenge for translators and machine translation systems, as well as for language standardizers and revitalizers. What do scholars in minority translation studies have to say about dialect translation? Michael Cronin has discussed the translation of English texts into rural dialects of Irish in the Irish Republic, which adopted An Caighdeán Oifigiúil as a single standard. I will discuss the translation of Mandarin texts into rural dialects of Seediq in contemporary Taiwan, which has adopted a multistandard approach to the revitalization of its officially recognized indigenous languages. The case language, Seediq, is one of those officially recognized languages. Like Taiwan’s other indigenous languages, Seediq is endangered, spoken by well under ten thousand people, most of them over the age of fifty. Instead of choosing a single standard for revitalization, three standards have been chosen, one for each dialect. There is, however, an undercurrent of partisanship in translation publication. I examine two sub-cases, first a translation of the screenplay of the film Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale (directed by Wei Desheng, 2011) into one of the three dialects, Toda, and second a translation of a selection of texts into all three dialects. On the basis of these two sub-cases, I describe two roles translators can play in dialect dynamics in a multistandard system, competitive and cooperative, and conclude that both kinds of translators – the competitors and the cooperators – can contribute to revitalization.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-156
Number of pages19
JournalmTm: a translation journal
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


  • dialect translation
  • language endangerment
  • language standardization
  • Seediq
  • Taiwan


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