The undiscovered country: comparison of funeral culture in China, Taiwan and the UK

Gameson, Marie L. (2009) The undiscovered country: comparison of funeral culture in China, Taiwan and the UK. MA dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    This dissertation investigates the differences between Sinophone and British funeral cultures as are revealed through analysis of funeral company websites. A sample of websites from the United Kingdom, Taiwan and China were evaluated to determine whether generic differences could be identified at national level, and whether reasons could be suggested for these differences. In accordance with the skopos of producing texts which allow an interested but non-specialist English-speaking reader an insight into Sinophone funeral culture, the approach used during the translation processes inclined more towards achieving formal than dynamic equivalence, adding as much context as was considered useful to help the reader understand the concepts embodied in the original texts. The challenges discovered when translating texts were used to highlight cultural disparities, and also to suggest strategies to use in translation. The dominant function of these websites is to persuade customers to engage a company’s services, and whilst the translation process revealed different funeral customs, discourse analysis also indicated cultural anxieties which could be exploited by funeral companies in order to fulfil their objective of advertising. As the translation approach of including extra-textual information with the translated texts carries much scope for translator subjectivity, theories on the cultural aspects of translation are discussed. The conclusions of the study were that analysis of websites is a useful method of comparing aspects of contemporary culture, and that translating websites in situ would offer clearer insights into other countries’ funeral cultures. A surprising finding was that several preconceptions about Sinophone culture were not only confirmed, but surpassed. Conversely, the expectation that modern urban China would have discarded traditional funeral culture was challenged by the observation that Chinese websites are the most likely to emphasise traditional proceedings — albeit under the guise of ‘information’. Finally, the majority of websites shared a tendency to suggest continuity with the past.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Languages and Area Studies
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2011 12:48
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 11:15

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