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On Principles and Skills of Movie Title Translation

By Karen Cook,2014-01-02 14:01
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On Principles and Skills of Movie Title Translation

: On Principles and Skills of Movie Title Translation

    2011

On Principles and Skills of Movie Title

    Translation

    May 28, 2011

    Acknowledgements

    This thesis has been in gestation for several months. I am grateful to the teachers for their patient help and warm encouragement during this time.

    I would like, first of all, to show my sincere gratitude to Ge Liping, my supervisor, for her valuable guidance and generous support. Through the work, she gave me great encouragement, which gave me the confidence and strength to complete this dissertation successfully. Her loyalty to teaching and punctilious work style has profoundly impressed me.

    My heartfelt thanks go to other teachers who have taught me in the past three years, and each in one way or another having provided me with incentives and direction for my study. Moreover, they either gave me lectures or were generous to offer me valuable reference materials.

    Much appreciation is also due to my classmates and friends for their constant encouragement and their ways of assistance in the course of writing, without this, timely completion of this paper would be difficult for me.

    Last but not least, I would like to take this opportunity to thank my parents. Their understanding and encouragement have been crucial to the timely completion of this thesis.

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    Abstract

    Movie is an art and a commodity as well. With the opening of the Chinese market, we have more and more English movies. Before the Chinese audiences enjoy the movies, they need to understand the movie titles because they convey the story of the movies to the audience to attract them.

    At present, the translation of movie titles has become a popular phrase. As is known to all, how to translate the movie titles has become a controversial topic in the field of translation for a long time. The translation of western movie titles is quite different from the translation of Chinese movie titles. In the process of the translation, sometimes movie titles will have different translations owing to the different translators. Because everyone has his idea, experience and knowledge. This paper points out the importance of the translation of movie titles, and analyzes the features and functions of movie titles first, with many examples explaining them. Moreover, mistranslations of movie titles are discussed and the reasons why the mistranslations come up are also analyzed. And then, this paper goes deep into many west movie title translations in recent years and refines some of the translations, discussing the principles and skills of movie title translation, and summarizing and posing new skills of movie title translation from the mistranslations. At last, the author summarizes the requests, principles and skills of movie title translation again, and calls on the translators to get the central meaning and style of the movie, learn the principles, grasp the skills and fathom the wordings, with the final purpose of bringing standardization and pluralism into the movie titles translation, and making a deep impression for the audience to understand the culture of the countries easily.

Key Words: movie title translation; principles; skills

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    内容摘要

    电影是一门艺术!同时也是一种商品。随着中国市场的开放!越来越多的英语电影走进中国的电影院。在欣赏这些英语电影之前!中国观众首先需要理解电影片名!电影片名将把电影情节传递给观众!从而吸引观众。

    目前!电影片名的翻译已经成为一个流行的词语!众所周知!如何译好电影片名已成为翻译界很长时间内热烈讨论的话题(西片的片名不同于中国电影片名!在翻译的过程中!由于译者的想法!经验和知识不同!翻译也会有所不同。

    本文指出了电影片名翻译的重要性!首先分析了电影片名的特征和功能!并通过具体的例子解释了这些特征和功能(其次引出了电影片名翻译中产生的误译现象!分析了产生这些误译现象的原因(再次深入分析了近年来众多欧美电影片名的翻译!并对其中的翻译进行仔细推敲!探讨了电影片名翻译的原则和技巧!并由误译总结和提出了新的电影片名翻译技巧。最后!对电影片名翻译的要求!翻译原则和技巧进行总结!号召翻译工作者在翻译电影片名时!应深入理解影片的内涵和风格!了解翻译原则!掌握翻译技巧!揣摩措词用语。力争使电影片名的翻译既具有规范化和多元化!又能使读者对其有更深刻的理解!从而达到文化交流的目的。

     关键词: 电影片名翻译(原则(技巧

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    Contents

Acknowledgements ..................................................................................................................... i

    Abstract(English) ....................................................................................................................... ii

    Abstract(Chinese) ...................................................................................................................... iii

    1. Introduction ............................................................................................................................ 1

    2. Features and functions of movie titles ..................................................................................... 2

    2.1 Features of movie titles .................................................................................................. 2

    2.1.1 Art feature ............................................................................................................ 2

    2.1.2 Economic feature ................................................................................................. 2

    2.1.3 Social feature ....................................................................................................... 3

    2.2 Functions of English movie titles ................................................................................... 4

    2.2.1 Informative function. ............................................................................................ 4

    2.2.2 Vocative function.................................................................................................. 4

    2.2.3 Aesthetic function................................................................................................. 4 3. Mistranslations ....................................................................................................................... 5

    3.1 Lacking a comprehensive understanding of the story...................................................... 5

    3.2 Misunderstanding of cultural information ...................................................................... 5

    3.3 Influence of commercial profits ..................................................................................... 6 4. Principles of English movie title translation ............................................................................ 7

    4.1 Faithfulness ................................................................................................................... 7

    4.2 Cultural awareness ......................................................................................................... 7

    4.3 Combination of commercial and aesthetic effects ........................................................... 8

    4.4 Artistic quality ............................................................................................................... 9

    5. Skills of English movie title translation................................................................................... 9

    5.1 The usual skills of movie title translation ....................................................................... 9

    5.1.1 Transliteration ...................................................................................................... 9

    5.1.2 Literal translation ............................................................................................... 10

    5.1.3 Explication ......................................................................................................... 10

    5.2 The skills summarized from mistranslations ................................................................. 11

    5.2.1 Adaptation .......................................................................................................... 11

    5.2.2 Providing a new title........................................................................................... 12

     5.2.3 Explanation……………………………………………………………………… 14

    6. Conclusion ........................................................................................................................... 14

    Works Cited.............................................................................................................................. 15

1. Introduction

    Movie is a kind of art which suits both refined and popular tastes and is loved by the old and the young. The French artist and novelist Mona Baker has pointed out “movie is so

    important that it has become the first arts of the human world” (40). It has a large number of

    audience and deep impact upon the society which the other arts are unable to compare with. The reason why a great movie can attract thousands of audience includes the exquisite acting of actors and actresses, philosophic conversation and gorgeous tableau. What is more, movie titles which contain profound moral play a very important role. The title gives a symbol and one part of packing and the brand trademark of the movie and condenses the pith of the story. The titles are always in the eye-catching position of the playbill.

    A wonderful title is necessary for a good movie, which is known by the people in the street. Every time when people hear about a movie, they always get to know its title first. By the understanding of the title, they will decide whether to see the movie or not. The pleasure of watching a movie comes as much from its content as from its title. The movie title translation requires using a few words to express the topic of the movie and people would not forget it after seeing it at the same time.

    In recent years, movie has gradually become an industry. In the western world, a blockbuster may hit a box office record over 100 million or even more. With the cultural exchange between China and western countries, more and more English movies have come into Chinese market. The movie title is the first thing through which the audience can know about the movie, so the translation of English movie title is pretty significant. A good translation of the title can convey the information of the movie and attract the audience‟s desire of going to see it.

    As a branch of non-literary translation, the English movie title translation, likes many other forms of non-literary translation, has not yet received due attention despite of their importance. Some mistranslations will give false information and affect audience to enjoy the movie, so using proper translation principles and skills are very necessary.

    This paper, based on an analysis of the features and functions and the mistranslations of English movie titles, will introduce principles and skills of English movie title translation and

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    will pose some new skills of movie title translation from the mistranslations. 2. Features and functions of movie titles

    Movie titles have many features and functions.

    2.1 Features of movie titles

    Everything in the world has its own features, so do the movie titles. They could not exist without their own features. To make the titles more impressive, many rhetoric devices are used in the English movie title translation, such as simile, metaphor, oxymoron and the like. The features of the English movie title translation will be expounded from the art, economic and social perspective.

    2.1.1 Art feature

    Movie is a living art and as such it tends to respond promptly to the development of science and technology, which differentiates it from the other forms of art that can be written or painted on the paper. As the movie title translation is the very key to keep the audiences‟

    attention, many factors are contained to achieve this aim. One of them is the art feature. For example, the Chinese rendering of the movie title “The Accused” is “暴劫梨花”, which consists

    of two parts: 暴劫 and 梨花. Here, 暴劫 roughly means ravaged or devastated while 梨花,

    which literally means „pear flowers‟, is often used to mean a fragile woman. There common Chinese expression „梨花带雨‟(a woman in tears) is condensed from Bai Juyi‟s (白居易): 梨花

    一枝春带雨.

    2.1.2 Economic feature

    It is no doubt that the movie investors try every way to attract people‟s eyes. The movie title

    translation is often put on the leading places of the bills to attract people‟s eyes. How to occupy the movie market? They rack their brains to seek the high competitiveness of the movie market from scripting, filming to showing. And the movie title translation is even to add an apt word to clinch the point. The movie industry includes the industrial production, the commercial system and the cultural transmission. There comes forth a great many movies on the market.

    Just for the sake of high benefits from their investment, they didn‟t care much about the movie title translation, which led them far from the original movie titles. Besides, for majority of

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    the audiences, that improper translation is beyond their understandings. It is necessary to find a junction of the market and art; even the national conditions have been taken into consideration. However, the importance is to find a naming that is close to the original title and eligible to the style of the movie. Meanwhile, we should not neglect the response of the market. However, they do the translating work only to pursue the advertising benefit. And in the field of English movie industry, people benefit from the boundless chance to get more money from this productive business despite of these. This economic feature of the movie titles will be acted by the following examples:

    (1) It Happens One Night 一夜风流

    (2) Sister Act 修女也疯狂

    The two examples show us the demands the development of mass markets of movie industry.

    2.1.3 Social feature

    Foreign audiences prefer to comprehend the original movie title rather than comprehend the translated one. Once the movie title is translated using explication, it would be hard for the Chinese audiences to understand the very content of the movie. As a matter of fact, a ringing translated movie title is the purpose of evoking the audiences‟ curiosity. For example, The words

    黑帮” in “Shark Tales”(鲨鱼黑帮) gives us a room to think. Are there “黑帮” in the world of

    sharks? So far, there is no one people that has seen the translated one will naturally translate it into “鲨鱼的故事”. Otherwise, you wouldn‟t expect its success of such a plain movie.

    Besides, movie always provides a forum in which certain pressing social problems and the audiences can deal with the problems imaginatively to consider possible causes, to imagine possible consequences, and to hypothesize possible solutions by the forum. Here “Shark Tales”

    is an example to show the social problem. “Shark” symbolizes the bully in the society. Among these sharks, there is one who is the son of the leader. When he dies, the sea creature is happy with the result and praises the untrue hero. It is certain that the movie conveys people‟s wishes to

    wipe out the bad eggs.

    Therefore, the bad title translation is unacceptable and it is just like the TV programs—“The world of the animals”. Generally speaking, the title of a movie is used to

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    inform would-be audiences. Nevertheless, these audiences would like to go into the cinemas unconsciously to admire this movie under the drive of “黑帮”. That is the contribution of the

    vivid movie titles.

    On the whole, the different features themselves characterize the movie titles, since they are simple and coherent with sporadic length titles in view. The examples, which were mentioned above, are just like a drop in the ocean of the movie title translation.

    2.2 Functions of English movie titles

    The British translator Peter Newmark mentions that “ language has six functions:

    expressive functioninformative functionvocative functionaesthetic functionphatic function

    and metalingual function.”(82). As a proper noun, the movie title is a result of the play writer‟s painstaking conception which can highly summarize the theme of the movie and intensely stimulate the audience‟s desire of going to movies. So movie titles contain the following three

    functions: informative function, vocative function, and aesthetic function. 2.2.1 Informative function

    The informative function means the movie title conveys the information about the idea of the movie to the audience and makes them understand the idea and the story better. The title Forrest Gump will tell the audience that the story is about a person named Forrest Gump and Pearl Harbor will remind the people of the history and the audience will know the story takes place in Pearl Harbor and has connection with World War?. The informative function is the

    basic and the most important function of a movie title.

    2.2.2 Vocative function

    As the philosophy says, everyone has curiosity. We will feel excited when we see something fresh and strange and we take delight in learning and are easily influenced. The vocative function is just to influence the audience‟s sentiments and arouse their interests. Fahrenheit 9.11, the best-selling documentary movie, strongly criticized the Bush government. The director chose the 9.11 event as part of the title to attract audience and also convey the main idea of the movie to them.

    2.2.3 Aesthetic function

    Aesthetic function is to bring audiences enjoyment from the movie title. The audiences

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