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Understanding intervention in fansubbing’s participatory culture

Siwen Lu, Sijing Lu

Abstract: The development of digital technology over the past two decades has made audiovisual products an indispensable way of entertainment and witnessed the emergence of new sociocultural phenomena, including the rise of participatory culture and civic engagement. Drawing on the Systemic Functional Linguistics-informed multimodality, this article compares some of the most distinct practices in official subtitles and fansubs in the complex sociocultural context of China. The aim is to examine how fansubbers manipulate semiotic resources to design highly innovative strategies and investigate how these interventionist practices maximize their visibility and increase the film’s participation. The results show that Chinese fansubbers tend to produce subtitles in a highly aesthetic, functional, and semiotically coherent way by breaking the conventions established by the professionals. This tendency is not only a reflection of their resistance and dissatisfaction with the official subtitles under the state constraints but also a manifestation of the rapidly developing participatory culture in this increasingly digitalized world.
Keywords: Functional / fansubbers / participatory culture / semiotically / sociocultural / digital / fansubs / official subtitles

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