Localization as multimodal-cultural translation : a comparative case study
Pau, Chun Chun
Date of Issue2017-07-12
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Localization is an important communication tool in promoting tourism and bridging cultures. The present study adopts a cultural-multimodal perspective on the localization of official tourism websites (OTWs), demonstrating how written texts, graphics and the relationship between them may be manipulated to produce informational and promotional content which is appropriate in the local market. Although many interdisciplinary studies concerning the role of languages, cultures and multimedia in tourism discourse have been published to date, it remains arbitrary and under-investigated within Translation and Localization Studies, particularly for the language pair, English-Chinese. Localization of words and images, and the interplay between them, influence how destinations identify and position themselves and tourists. These phenomena are illustrated with examples from two case studies: the English site of YourSingapore and its Chinese version, and the Chinese site of Macao Tourism and its English version. Peter Newmark’s cultural translation methods and Kress and van Leeuwen’s visual grammar were combined to conduct a multimodal discourse analysis (MDA). First, the verbal and visual texts in the original sites were categorized by localization strategies. Next, the respective degree of localization executed by both OTW on the linguistic, visual and intersemiotic dimensions were identified and juxtaposed. Findings reflect current applications of localization in the English-Chinese and Chinese-English context. The former localizes content to a greater extent through more drastic changes of linguistic and visual discourse, such as adaptation and replacement; while the other primarily adopts communicative translation of the texts without modifying the images. Further analyses reveal mismatches in discursive features between the original and the localized. This study aims to show the significance of incorporating multimodality and cultural translation into localization and ultimately recommending this unified approach to the current disjointed practice of translation and localization in tourism communication.