Chinese translation of Dunkirk subtitle stirs controversy

Updated 2017-09-06 10:00:35 Global Times

Chinese translation of movie subtitle stirs controversy

The Chinese translation of a subtitle of British war film Dunkirk has triggered heated debate in China, after the word "home" in the subtitle was translated as "Zuguo" (motherland).

Some viewers and movie critics criticized the translation being too political, while others argued that "home" in that historic moment can also mean "motherland."

"The difference between the two words is that 'home' has more human connotation and Zuguo is more nationalist. However, the movie's motive is to depict a place 'on the earth without maps,' so the translation doesn't fit in the context," a netizen said on Sina Weibo.

Dunkirk depicts the retreat of Allied soldiers from the UK, France and Belgium under Nazi Germany's encirclement in 1940 during World War II.

"Some sensitive viewers are just uncomfortable with the use of the word Zuguo, because in their mind the word mixes the concepts of state and homeland, which is too political for them," Shi Wenxue, a Beijing-based film critic, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

"For those British soldiers who escaped from hell, when they saw the White Cliffs of Dover, the southeastern corner of their territory, the 'home' meant the Great Britain, their motherland," said an anonymous British PhD student who studied in Beijing-based Renmin University of China.

"So the Chinese translation has no problem," he said.

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