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STFL Public Lecture: The Pleasure and Prospect of Subtitles Translation & A Discussion on Linguistic Determinism

The School of Translation and Foreign Languages of HSUHK organised two sessions of public lecture on 29 July 2023, entitled The Pleasure and Prospect of Subtitles Translation and A Discussion on Linguistic Determinism, respectively delivered by Adjunct Associate Professor Dr WONG Kim Fan and Lecturer Mr KWAN Ho Chuen.

Watching English films and TV programmes is a favourite pastime of many, including students who are interested in subtitles translation, but the general public does not know much about the gateway to the industry. In fact, there are strict requirements for this seemingly easy and deeply interesting job, which involves professional knowledge that is unbeknown to laymen. Dr Wong took the audience on an exploring tour of the subtitling industry.

Dr Wong first gave an overview of the workings of the subtitles translation industry, and introduced the necessary competences of a proficient translator. Citing popular films and TV programmes as examples, Dr Wang guided the audience through an inquiry and discussion on the translation methods and common mistakes in the practice. Towards the end of the session, Dr Wong shared his insights on the impact of artificial intelligence (such as ChatGPT) on translation work, a topic which has received much attention recently. In short, he believes that AI systems have limitations and shortcomings. Although translation and other language-related work will be affected, the profession of the translator is still irreplaceable, and the demand of the service is even keener than before.

Dr Wong gives an overview of film and television subtitles translation

Some theories suggest that the language a person uses to some extent influences or even determines the way he/she perceives the world around him/her. How is a person’s ways of thinking affected by the different languages he/she speaks? Mr Kwan touched on this interesting topic through a thought-provoking public lecture entitled A Discussion on Linguistic Determinism.

Mr Kwan started with an introduction of the concept and theory of linguistic determinism. He explained that this theory suggested languages had a vital role in people’s life. Not only are languages used for communication, but they also affect and even direct people’s thoughts and behaviour. By going through the findings of some studies and experiments, Mr Kwan invited the audience to share their views on linguistic determinism. In short, the features of different languages, including their focal assignments, their concepts of future and their differentiation and categorisation of everything in the perceived world, may have influence on their speakers in various aspects of life.

Mr Kwan introduces the concept and theory of linguistic determinism

Dr Wong and Mr Kwan discuss the research about the relationship between languages and saving habits