Functional Equivalence Theory and Its Limitations in Translation


学周刊 2015年1期


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 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 countrys 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 Chinas imported foreign movies, especially English movies, are largely enhanced. Therefore, movie translation is becoming more emphasized. In the process of the movie title translation, Nidas functional equivalence theory can be employed in the area.

II. An Overview of Nidas 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 authors 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 Nidas 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.


Topological photonic states in gyromagnetic photonic crystals:Physics,properties,and applications
Atom interferometers with weak-measurement path detectors and their quantum mechanical analysis∗
Analysis and implementation of FURLS algorithm for active vibration control system with positive feedback①