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Functional Equivalence Theory and Its Limitations in Transla

时间:2015-03-24 16:16来源:未知 作者:admin 点击:
Abstract:Exploring the features and translation of movie titles within the framework of Nidas functional equivalence theory, this paper mainly aims to discuss the limitations of this theory and in the end proposes some methods in produci

  Abstract:Exploring the features and translation of movie titles within the framework of Nida’s functional equivalence theory, this paper mainly aims to discuss the limitations of this theory and in the end proposes some methods in producing good translations of movie titles. 
  Keywords:functional equivalence theory; movie titles; translation 
  I. Introduction 
  As the exchange among countries going further, a movie is playing an increasingly important role in promoting a country’s culture and communication. Different from other forms of art, a movie mainly spreads information and attracts spectators through media. Consequently, the title becomes a core in the movie. These years, both the quantity and quality of China’s imported foreign movies, especially English movies, are largely enhanced. Therefore, movie translation is becoming more emphasized. In the process of the movie title translation, Nida’s functional equivalence theory can be employed in the area. 
  II. An Overview of Nida’s Theory of Functional Equivalence 
  The distinguished American translation theorist, Eugene A. Nida is an advocate of functional translation. His major contribution to the translation studies is that he studies translation from the perspective of linguistics and communication, and proposes the famous “functional equivalence” theory. In his book Language and Culture: Context in Translation, he defines the term “functional equivalence” as “the original receptors understood and appreciated the text and the way in which receptors of the translated text understand and appreciate the translated text.”  From this definition, we can form a clear picture of the nature of translation which is to use the translated text to make the receptor understand and appreciate the original author’s meanings. That is to say, according to Nida, “receptors’ responses” occupy the most significant part in judging the quality of the translated texts. 
  III. The Limitations of Functional Equivalence Theory in Movie Title Translation 
  Though Nida’s theory provides us a useful framework for the translation of movie titles, it still has its own limitations. 
  First of all, it fails to explain some important aspects even within the theory itself. For instance, the movie The Day After Tomorrow has been translated as《后天》. From the translation we can see that, judged from the above principles, the translation is of high quality because it is equivalent to the original one both in content and in style. However, it is not true in fact. The original title aims to emphasize the coming future and to express a kind of desperation of nowhere to live. In the translated title we cannot get such information. And there are also some other examples that do not follow these two principles but can have equivalent effect between the original titles and the translated titles. For example, Finding Nemo is translated as《海底总动员》in Chinese. Both the content and style of the translated title are not equivalent to the original one but their effects are equivalent to the each other.

 Secondly, it has its limitations in the transference of aesthetic values of the movie titles. As what have been discussed above, movies, as a kind of art form and a commercial product as well, should enjoy some aesthetic features. Consequently, in the translation of movie titles, translator should not give their thought to the equivalence of the wording and style only but to take the aesthetic value and commercial into full consideration. However, Nida’s theory fails on this point. Take the movie Ghost as an example. It is translated as《鬼魂》in mainland China and translated as《人鬼情未了》in Hong Kong. Make a comparison of the two versions, we may find that the latter seems more beautiful. Take the two translated versions of You Can’t Take It with You as another example. One is translated as《你无法带我走》and the other is translated as《浮生若梦》. Surely the second is a preferred one. The more the titles are translated with aesthetic values, the more likely that they are accepted by the public. 
  IV. Conclusion 
  From what we have mentioned above, we can see that in the translation of movie titles we should not only translate word by word mechanically but to translate based on a whole understanding of the movies themselves. Nida’s functional equivalence theory, which aims to make the receptors of both the original and translated text have similar feelings and understandings, can be used as the theoretical framework in the translation of movie titles. However, in movie title translation not only one factor but some other factors, such as the aesthetic and commercial factors, spectator factor, and movie functions should be considered. Only in this way, can the “real equivalence” be achieved. 
  References: 
  Nida, Eugene A. Language and Culture: Contexts in Translating. Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press,2004(86). 

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