Intertextuality, translation, and the semiotics of museum presentation: The case of bilingual texts in Chinese museums

Robert John NEATHER*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


This paper seeks to explore the various verbal (linguistic) interactions within the intersemiotic environment of the museum exhibition space. Drawing on notions of intertextuality in the social semiotic tradition such as those developed by Lemke, it begins with a theoretical account of intertextuality in the bilingual museum, before focusing more specifically on two case studies from museums in the PRC and Hong Kong in which Chinese language Source Texts are accompanied by corresponding English language Target Texts. In each case the paper considers the particular relations that obtain between these co-spatially situated Source Texts, the strategies through which such intertextual usage is mediated in translation, and how the intertextual relationships of the Source Text cluster are reconfigured in the correspondent Target Text cluster. A number of factors are identified in the translation process, including discoursal shifts, reprioritization and redistribution of Source Text material across different Target Texts, and the use of alternative types of lexicogrammatical repetition that seek to create a different form of recapitulation in translation, whether to correct perceived shortcomings in the original ST relationships, or for reasons of cultural or museological convention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-218
Number of pages22
Issue number192
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory

User-Defined Keywords

  • Bilingual presentation
  • Chinese
  • Context
  • Intertextuality
  • Museum semiotics
  • Translation


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