When local goes global : English subtitles of two comedy films by Stephen Chow

Issac Ting-yan HUI*

*Corresponding author for this work

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


This article offers a descriptive analysis of how Hong Kong actors’ and director Stephen Chow’s comedies have been translated for English-speaking audiences. Drawing on previous studies of Chow’s films, this study highlights the translation characteristics to focus on when translating Chow’s comedies. Through discussions of Freud’s and Bakhtin’s theories of comedies, this study examines the subtitles used in Chow’s films From Beijing with Love and Flirting Scholar. The findings show that Chow’s comedies contain many mixtures and contrasts of high and low culture in Chinese, with an abundant use of sexual and vulgar language. In comparison, the English translations of the official DVD version of From Beijing with Love tend to be literal, whereas the translations in Flirting Scholar convey a stronger impression of childishness to English-speaking audiences.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalPerspectives: Studies in Translation Theory and Practice
Early online date19 Feb 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Feb 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Hong Kong cinema
  • Stephen Chow
  • comedy
  • film translation


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