Film Translation into Ethnic Minority Languages in China

来源:AVTD China & CCTSS

作者:AVTD China & CCTSS


Film Translation into Ethnic Minority Languages in China: A Historical Perspective


Jin Haina

School of Foreign Languages and Cultures, Communication University of China

Perspectives: Studies in Translation Theory and Practice, April 5 2019


The article analyses the history of translating film into ethnic minority languages in China. Using such sources as official regulations, newspapers, quantitative data, memoirs and oral history, the author examines China’s film translation policies, translation institutions, and modes of translation with respect to minority languages. It will also shed light on the evolution of these trends of film translation into ethnic minority languages in China over time. It provides an overview of major events in the development of the practice of translating films into minority languages in China, from the 1950s to the present day. This overview can be divided into three periods based on the technological developments that shaped these practices: 1950s to 1965, 1965–2009, and 2009 to the present day. The first period is defined by the use of dubbing by major film studios and oral interpretation by mobile projectionists. The second period is defined by centralized production of magnetic dubbing tracks by film translation centres located in the regions where ethnic minorities live. The third period is defined by digital dubbing carried out by a coordinated national network of 11 film translation centres for ethnic minority languages.

KEYWORDS: Film translation, ethnic minority languages, China, translation history



Jin Haina is an associate professor in audiovisual translation at the Communication University of China. Her research interests include audiovisual translation, translation history, film history, and translated cinema. She is the principal investigator of two China National Social Science Foundation funded projects on audiovisual translation. She has published a monograph entitled Towards a History of Translating Chinese Films (1905–1949) and is now working on a sequel, which will cover the 110-year history of translating Chinese films into foreign languages. She is a curator for an upcoming exhibition on film translation at the China Film Museum (to be held in 2020). She has been part of the organizing committee for the Sino-Foreign Audiovisual Translation and Dubbing Cooperation Workshop for both the Beijing Film Festival and the Shanghai Film Festival since 2015. She is also on the advisory board of the Journal of Audiovisual Translation and the Language and Media Conference.


Much more research needs to be done on the translation quality, reception, and pedagogical function of the output of these film translation centres. By providing a preliminary introduction to the development of this system, this article hopes to serve as a jumping-off point for these future studies.

Perspectives: Studies in Translation Theory and Practice is indexed in SSCI and A&HCI, published by Routledge. The journal is a major refereed academic publication devoted to the translation studies. 

This article is a contribution to the special issue of Perspectives on Mapping Contemporary Audiovisual Translation in East Asia, guested by Dr. Dingkun Wang, Dr. Xiaochun Zhang and Dr. Arista Kuo.