Problems and Solutions in English-Chinese Translation of Song Lyrics in Mulan

Ng Xiang Jing, Mansour Amini,

The aim of the present study was exploring the translation process in translating song lyrics by analysing how translation features, occur in a corpus of four song lyrics of Honor to Us All, I’ll Make a Man Out of You, A Girl Worth Fighting For, and Reflection from the Disney movie, Mulan. The source text (English) was first translated to target texts (Mandarin) considering the rhythm, rhyme, number of syllables and words, literal translations, figurative language, omissions, explanations and description (addition), rewording and rephrasing, as well as paraphrasing. Most of the problems during the translation were related to lexical choice and syntactic structures, rendering a ‘faithful’ translation in terms of form and meaning, delivering the message fluently, and having a logically cohesive translation. It was also challenging to reflect cultural words in the Chinese translation, while trying to retain completeness, which led to omission or additions. However, paraphrasing was identified as the most common/useful strategy in translating song lyrics from English to Chinese. It was concluded that translation of literary genre, particularly translations of songs and lyrics, is a complex procedure depending greatly on the translator’s appropriate style which demands creativity in making complex decisions. This could raise the questions of to what extent translations could be prescriptive? and can translators count on in-advance solutions for the same type of text.

Volume 11 | 05-Special Issue

Pages: 1202-1206