A study of Fansubbing translation of English films and TV series in China since 2000
: its audience satisfaction, genre and style

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis explores the increasing popularity of fansubbing as a means to access foreign media in mainland China. Fuelled by China’s extreme censorship laws and the lack of access to officially translated foreign media, fansubbers have begun creating fan-made translations of Western media. This study will explore the unique qualities of Chinese fansubbing and argue that fansubbed media arguably achieves a greater level of equivalence with the English-language Source Texts (STs) than professional translation.
In order to establish Chinese fansubbing translation activity as a special event of communication, Halliday’s concept of the context of situation is applied in the analysis of Chinese fansubbing translation activity, and is also used to structure the research aims in this thesis. This study aims to define the Source Text (ST) and Target Text (TT) for a fansubbing work and to establish the contextual characteristics of both of these texts (field); to explore audience satisfaction regarding fansubbing in China, in order to identify the popularity of fansubbing translation (tenor); and to discuss and evaluate specific fansubbing translation texts in order to explore the nature of fansubbing as a translation style (mode).
Structured using Halliday’s context of situation as a theoretical backbone, this study applies a mixed-method approach to achieve a set of research aims. A questionnaire survey is conducted using Jenkins’s concept of fan culture and supplemented by existing studies on surveying translation quality and audience satisfaction in media studies. Biber’s sociolinguistics perspective of situational characteristics and Hasan’s concept of contextual configuration are used to identify the ST and TT for a fansubbing translation work and to explore the unique contextual characteristics of these texts; then Halliday’s Systemic Functional Grammar (SFG) is applied in the analysis of the text cases of the specific situations in the translation of selected films and TV programmes.
What distinguishes this study from others is the application of SFG in studying fansubbing translation, and the identification of Chinese fansubbing translation activity as a special event that creates a new genre. The survey on audience satisfaction also provides a unique understanding on the relationship between fansubbers and fans.
Date of AwardAug 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorAkiko Sakamoto (Supervisor), Youxuan Wang (Supervisor), Matthew John Weait (Supervisor) & Glenn Hadikin (Supervisor)

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