Translation Workflow and Translated Texts: Thai Culture-Specific Items in Community-Based Tourism Brochures

O'Donnell, Laphatrada. 2024. Translation Workflow and Translated Texts: Thai Culture-Specific Items in Community-Based Tourism Brochures. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

Translating culture-specific items (CSIs) (Aixelá, 1996) poses challenges for translators when the items from a source culture have no equivalent in a target culture. In this study, I investigated the translation of CSIs in seven community-based tourism (CBT) ebrochures published by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). In these CBT ebrochures, the Thai source texts (STs) were printed next to their English translations (the target texts) in parallel text format. The CBT e-brochures represent Thai culture through custom and ritual, food, political and religious administration, tools, art, clothes, buildings, belief, leisure, work, vehicles, musical instruments, and gesture. I investigated the translation procedures of CSIs in the CBT e-brochures. I also conducted interviews with key informants from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and the project producer of the outsourced company whom the TAT commissioned to produce and publish the CBT brochures. The interviews with the TAT and the project producer allow me to situate the translation in its broader context with an investigation of its workflow. Workflow in my study refers to the initial conception of the CBT brochures, the subsequent work from translation to publication, and the decisions made during this process. My interview data with an official from the TAT in Bangkok and the project producer revealed details of the CBT translation workflow and the factors influencing the translators' decision-making.

Descriptive Translation Studies (DTS) is my research framework derived from Toury (1995). The DTS aims to describe and explain translation based on three aspects: the product (translated text), the function (context: when and where the texts were translated) and the process (a translator’s decision-making). I triangulate my findings of textual analysis with interview data in order to reveal factors influencing translators’ decision-making in choosing translation procedures. Subsequently, my study aims to 1) investigate and describe the translation procedures undertaken by the Thai CBT translators to translate the culture-specific items (CSIs) in seven CBT e-brochures from Thai into English, 2) identify the ‘semantic shift’ (meaning change) which occurred when the Thai CSIs were translated into English, 3) reveal possible reasons as to why the Thai CBT translators applied particular procedures to translate the Thai CSIs into English, and 4) uncover the interrelationship between the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), outsourced company and the Thai CBT translators.

My study found that the translation procedures that the Thai CBT translators applied to translate the Thai CSIs were omission, rewriting, borrowing, generalisation, addition and literal translation. Furthermore, the Thai CBT translators also employed couplets (Newmark 1988), a combination of translation procedures, to translate the Thai CSIs into English. The couplets found in this study are 1) generalisation+ addition, 2) borrowing+ generalisation+ addition, 3) borrowing+ addition, 4) borrowing+ generalisation and 5) literal translation+ addition. In addition, my findings show that the semantics of Thai CSIs have shifted from implicit and specific in the Thai STs to explicit and general in the English TTs. However, the Thai CSIs’ semantics did not shift when the Thai CBT translators employed omission and borrowing by using transliteration in Roman characters. Omission and borrowing by using transliteration in Roman characters do not intervene in the Thai CSIs’ meaning.

Another important finding is that the Thai CBT translators applied various translation procedures following the advice of the project producer, the TAT’s aims, objectives and marketing strategy. The interview findings show that the English translation is based on content marketing, which aims to promote seven CBT villages in Thailand. In accordance with the TAT’s marketing strategy, the project producer recommended that Thai CBT translators use formal and polite language and refrain from presenting aggressive activities such as killing animals and supernatural content. In addition, the project producer advised the Thai CBT translators to opt for some translation procedures, such as omission and addition. The CBT translators were advised to avoid literal translation because the English target texts are for international audiences. Another finding from the interviews with the TAT and the project producer indicated that there is an interrelationship between the TAT, the project producer and the Thai translators during the CBT brochure workflow.

The implications of this study are relevant to further comparative study of tourism translation workflow. The results of my study can be contrasted with other similarly designed studies. The study contributes to knowledge of triangulation textual analysis with interviews. Few studies integrate textual analysis with interview data; therefore, the methodology used in this study can be adapted or adopted for future research. In addition, my interview questions may be adapted as a guideline for further study, specifically in the research area of translation for the tourism industry.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Translation Workflow, Translated Texts, Thai Culture-Specific Items, Community-Based Tourism, Tourist Brochures

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature


31 March 2024

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

19 Apr 2024 13:42

Last Modified:

19 Apr 2024 13:42


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