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Packaging the product: a case study of verbal and non-verbal paratext in Chinese-English translation

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Valerie Pellatt


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This paper shows how publishers and editors appear to make certain assumptions about the readership of books and manipulate the translation and the readers by means of non-verbal and verbal layout and presentation. The examples cited show how publications differ inside and outside China. The paper starts with an overview of the layers of ‘packaging’ of paratext. These show how the package is aimed at and may send a different message across geo-political space to the domestic and foreign audience. The second part of the paper focuses on one work, a memoir, in its entirety. The book jacket and blurb, the illustrations, the prefaces, postscripts, chapter headings, and the paragraphing differ between the source text and the target text. The reasons for this can only be speculated upon, as there is no explicit justification from the publisher. However, the nature of the differences shows very clearly what motives the editor and/or the publisher may have in mind when spending so much energy (and money) on creating what appears to be a different book. While in the end, the reader reads a similar narrative, he or she is primed by the external appearance of the book to expect (and therefore may actually receive) a different message.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Pellatt V

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: JoSTrans: The Journal of Specialised Translation

Year: 2012

Volume: 2012

Issue: 20

Pages: 86-106

Print publication date: 01/07/2013

ISSN (electronic): 1740-357X

Publisher: Jostrans