Domesticating translation can make a difference : a case study of foreign film-title translation in Hong Kong and Taiwan

  • Ka Ian, Justina CHEANG

Student thesis: MPhil Thesis (Lingnan)


This thesis seeks to examine the translation of selected foreign film-titles in Hong Kong and Taiwan from 1990 to 2002. Lawrence Venuti’s theory on “domesticating translation” and “foreignizing translation” will be taken as the conceptual framework for the study. Building on Friedrich Schleiermacher’s perspective on translation and on his observations about the Anglo-American publishing industry, Venuti asserts that “foreignizing translation”, being a strategy to bring the target-text audience toward the original text, should be preferred over “domesticating translation” as the former would guarantee difference by introducing foreign elements to the text recipients. By doing so, people will have more chances to be exposed to cultures other than their own and thus a heterogeneous society will be formed and maintained. Since Venuti’s study has not touched upon the Asian region situated in the periphery of global culture as opposed to the Anglo-American one, his suggestion for “foreignizing translation” might not be feasible globally. Selected film-titles will be examined in this thesis. Data show that most of the translated titles in Hong Kong are domesticated. The same can be said of Taiwan in recent years, though to a lesser extent. Unlike other text types, film-titles are normally translated or adapted by the local film distributors rather than professionally or academically trained translators. With box-office sales as the major concern of the movie business, the adoption of the domesticating strategy can easily be rationalized, if not justified. Equally notable is the fact that, as recent trend in Taiwan demonstrates, domesticating strategy also reflects a stronger sense of local identity.
Date of Award2005
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Department of Translation
SupervisorShiu Ming Joseph LAU (Supervisor)

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