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Translating Chinese tourists abroad: Language, culture and the de-centering of global mobility

Adam Jaworski

University of Hong Kong

The significant presence of Chinese tourists in Europe, North America, Hong Kong and other destinations in recent years has given rise to widespread reporting of the alleged problems caused by Chinese tourists in various destinations. Expert advice on how to deal with Chinese tourists is available, for example, from the European Travel Commission and commercial organizations like the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI). This need to ‘translate’ Chinese tourists in print, broadcast, online media and trade literature signals a major shift in the traditional patterns and directionality in global tourism. Affluent, western societies that were tourism consumers are now increasingly becoming tourism providers. Following the tenets of Critical Intercultural Communication (e.g. Halaulani and Nakayama, 2010; Piller, 2011), this paper addresses the question of positioning Chinese tourists as the cultural ‘Other’, especially in the context of de- and re-centering of global nodes of wealth and power.  My final argument draws on Lawrence Venuti’s distinction between two modes of literary translation: ‘domestication’ and ‘foreignization’. I argue that English-language ,‘mainstream’ media, for example in Hong Kong and the UK, tend to domesticate Chinese tourist. In contrast, other discourses, such as art projects, appear to favour foreignization, a point that I illustrate with excerpts from Ai Weiwei’s art documentary Fairytale (2007).


May 31, 2016