Communications in Humanities Research

Communications in Humanities Research

Vol. 2, 03 March 2023

Open Access | Article

A Relevance Theoretical Approach to Translators’ Subjectivity in Subtitle Translation

Yizhu Chen * 1
1 School of English for Specific Purposes, Beijing Foreign Studies University, Beijing, China

* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.

Communications in Humanities Research, Vol. 2, 395-401
Published 03 March 2023. © 2023 The Author(s). Published by EWA Publishing
This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Citation Yizhu Chen. A Relevance Theoretical Approach to Translators’ Subjectivity in Subtitle Translation. CHR (2023) Vol. 2: 395-401. DOI: 10.54254/2753-7064/2/2022663.


While translation is always indispensable in international communication and exchange, the value of translators always seems to be underestimated. As an intermediary between the source and target language, translators can and should play their subjectivity in the translation practice. The translators’ subjectivity can be further interpreted from a relevance theoretical approach. This theory believes that translators are responsible for leading the way of comprehension of the audience by building a most identical cognitive environment and avoiding misunderstanding. Translators also play the main role in the two ostensive-inferential communication processes between the author and the translator and between the translator and the audience. Specifically, this paper uses the relevance theory as a foundation to analyze how translators’ subjectivity is manifested in subtitle translation. It picks out three examples from the lines of a popular American sitcom and finds out that translators do use amplification, conversion, and other strategies to make the ostension in the target language more acceptable for the Chinese audience. From the theoretical basis, the author also gives suggestions for optimizing the translation to retain the same comic effect.


practice, relevance, translation;, theory;, translation, subtitle, subjectivity;, translators’


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Data Availability

The datasets used and/or analyzed during the current study will be available from the authors upon reasonable request.

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