"Danmaku" subtitling. An exploratory study of a new grassroots translation practice on Chinese video-sharing websites
Year of publication
This article presents a new form of grassroots online collaborative translation, danmaku subtitling, which is increasingly gaining momentum on Chinese video-sharing websites. Danmaku subtitling refers to scenarios where enthusiastic online viewers contribute amateur translations to untranslated foreign-language videos in the form of “live” comments overlaid on the screen. Using Bilibili.com as the site of study, this article attempts to depict a fuller image of the translation phenomenon that facilitates knowledge sharing and embodies technology-enabled, amateur-led linguistic collaboration emerging from a (subcultural) online community. This study proceeds from a pilot study that substantiated the presence of danmaku translations in untranslated English videos, and then carries out a case study of a BBC documentary series in order to reveal the basic characteristics of danmaku subtitling and consider viewer interactions triggered by danmaku subtitles in the broader social practice of participatory viewing.