Translators' Agency in Persian Fansubbed Movies: A Paratextual Analysis

Document Type : Original Article


1 M.A. in Translation Studies, Allameh Tabataba’i University, Tehran, Iran

2 Ph.D. Candidate of Translation Studies, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran.


Drawing upon the notion of ‘paratextual agency’ (Paloposki, “Limits of Freedom” 191), the current study investigated the agency of the Iranian fansubbers. To do so, a corpus of 20 Persian fansubs of Hollywood movies released during the last decade was selected randomly. The study was carried out in two steps. Firstly, translators’ notes were categorized based on their content, frequency, and percentage of each category. Secondly, these notes were analyzed to scrutinize the agency of the Iranian fansubbers. The findings of the study reveal that notes added on the part of the Iranian fansubbers can be categorized into narrative-related notes, locations, famous figures, organizations, medical information, allusions, and transliteration. The study illustrates that by providing such notes to the audience, Iranian fansubbers move beyond the conventional role of subtitler and a mere linguistic conveyor of the movies and take the responsibility of teachers, researchers, cultural representatives, and intermediary agents. The study concludes that fansubbing in Iran is concerned with elucidating culture-bound items of the movies to make them more understandable for the audience. The conclusions of this study can open up prospective avenues for the sociologically-oriented approaches to audiovisual translation, with an eye on the agency and status of fansubbers


Main Subjects

Abdolmaleki, Saleh and others. “Agency in Non-professional Manga Translation in Iran.” Translation and Interpreting, vol. 10, no. 1, 2018, pp. 92-110.
Abrams, Meyer Howard, and Geoffrey Harpham. A Glossary of Literary Terms. Boston: Cengage Learning, 2014.
Ameri, Saeed, and Masood Khoshsaligheh. “Iranian Amateur Subtitling Apparatus: A Qualitative Investigation.” Mutatis Mutandis: Revista Latinoamericana de Traducción, vol. 12, no. 2 2019, pp. 433-453.

Bolouri, Mazdak. “Translators’ Agency in Footnotes and Notes of Contemporary Iranian Literary Translators.” Language Related Research, vol. 8, no. 6, 2018, pp. 191-214.
Chesterman, Andrew. “The Name and Nature of Translator Studies.” HERMES-Journal of Language and Communication in Business, no. 42, 2009, pp. 13-22.

Diaz-Cintas, Jorge. “Back to the Future in Subtitling.” Proceedings of the Marie Curie Euroconferences MuTra: Challenges of Multidimensional Translation, Saarbrücken: 2005.
Diaz-Cintas, Jorge, and Pablo Munoz Sanchez. “Fansubs: Audiovisual Translation in an Amateur Environment.” Jostrans: The Journal of Specialised Translation, no.6, 2006, pp. 37-52.

Di Giovanni, Elena. “The Reception of Professional and Non-professional Subtitles: Agency, Awareness and Change.” Cultus Journal, vol. 11, 2018, pp. 18-37.
Duraner, Jarmin E., and others. “Fansubbers as Cultural Agents for Korean Dramas.” Non-Professional Subtitling, 2017, pp. 145-170.

Dwyer, Tessa. “Audiovisual translation and fandom.” The Routledge handbook of audiovisual translation. Routledge, 2018. 436-452.
Fakharzadeh, Mehrnoosh. “A Sociological Approach to Official and Non-Official Audiovisual Translators’ Practice in Iran: The Case of Movie Title Translation.” Journal of Intercultural Communication Research, vol. 51, no. 4, 2022, pp. 430-449.

Ferrer Simó, María Rosario. “Fansubs y scanlations: la influencia del aficionado en los criterios profesionales.” Revista Puentes, no. 6, 2005, pp. 27-44.
Hermans, Theo. “Toury’s Empiricism Version One.” The Translator, vol. 1, no. 2, 1995, pp. 215-223.

Inghilleri, Moira. “The Sociology of Bourdieu and the Construction of the ‘Object’ in Translation and Interpreting Studies.” The translator, vol. 11, no. 2, 2005, pp. 125-145.
Khoshsaligheh, Masood, and Saeed Ameri. “Translator’s Agency and Features of Non-professional Translation of Video Games (A Case Study of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End).” Language Related Research, vol. 8, no. 5, 2017, pp. 181-204.

Koskinen, Kaisa. Beyond Ambivalence: Postmodernity and the Ethics of Translation, 2000, Tampere University Press, PhD dissertation.
Kovala, Urpo. “Translations, Paratextual Mediation, and Ideological Closure.” Target. International Journal of Translation Studies, vol. 8, no. 1, 1996, pp. 119-147.

Kinnunen, Tuija and Kaisa Koskinen. Translators’ Agency. Finland: Tampere University Press, 2010.
Lee, Yvonne. “Non-professional Subtitling” The Routledge Handbook of Chinese Translation, edited by Chris Shei and Zhao-Ming Gao, Routledge, 2017, pp. 566-579. 

O’Sullivan, Carol. Translating Popular Film. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.
Paloposki, Outi. “Limits of Freedom: Agency, Choice and Constraints in the Work of the Translator.” Agents of Translation, edited by John Milton and Paul Bandia, John Benjamins, 2009, pp. 189-208.

Paloposki, Outi. “Translator’s Footprints” Translators’ Agency, edited by Tuija Kinnunen and Kaisa Koskinen, Tampere University Press, 2010, pp. 86-107.
Rong, Liew Zhe, and Hasuria Che Omar. “Understanding Fansub as One of the Audiovisual Translation Methods.” KEMANUSIAAN: The Asian Journal of Humanities, vol. 25, no. 2, 2018, pp. 109-127.

Van Doorslaer, Luc, and Yves Gambier, Handbook of Translation Studies, vol. 1, John Benjamins Publishing, 2010.
Van Tonder, Laurinda Cecilia. “Fansubbing and Creative Subtitling–How Amateur Approaches Can Help Improve Professional Products.” South African Translators’ Institute–second Triennial Conference: The Changing Face of Translation and Interpreting, 2015.

Wolf, Michaela. “Introduction: The Emergence of a Sociology of Translation.” Constructing a Sociology of Translation, edited by Michaela Wolf and Alexandra Fukari, John Benjamins, (2007), pp. 1-36
Xiu-Xing, Cai “Fansubbing humor: A mainland China case study.” Journalism and Mass Communication, vol. 5, no. 9, 2015, pp. 435-453.