, Volume 42, Issue 2, pp 603–621 | Cite as

Research on limitations of indirect literary translation and aspects of cultural vocabulary translation

  • Kyung-Eun ParkEmail author
  • Keun-Hye Shin
  • Ki-Sun Kim


This paper explores limitations and problems occurring in the process of indirectly translating the korean novel Please Look after Mom into Thai using English as the vehicular language. This paper explored cases in which the equivalence of translation was damaged or mistranslation occurred, analysing these by focusing on the mistranslation of cultureme. Cultureme has been classified as including Norms, Ideas, and Material. According to this study’s results, in the Norms category, after the pronoun, cognate language, and terms of address were expressed in English, they became highly unnatural expressions in the Thai language or did not properly express family relationships, producing mistranslations. Regarding living customs, after the Korean customs and lifestyles with which Thai people are familiar were retranslated using poor vocabularies, they were translated into English, reducing equivalence. In the Ideas category, after traditional beliefs related to rites of passage—such as marriage or death—practiced by both Koreans and the Thai, and related world views, were translated directly into English, they were retranslated insufficiently or omitted. Lastly, in the Material category, after vocabularies related to Korean food culture—well known to the Thai—were translated into English, mistranslations and lack of equivalence resulted in ambiguous expressions.


Literary translation Indirect translation Please Look After Mom Cultureme 



This work was supported by Hankuk University of Foreign Studies Research Fund of 2015.


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Literary texts in analysis

  1. ST: Shin, K. S. (2008). Eommareul butakae (Open image in new window). Paju: Changbi Publishers.Google Scholar
  2. MT: Shin, K. S. (translated by Kim, C. Y.). (2011). Please Look After Mom. New York: Knopf.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hankuk University of Foreign StudiesSeoulRepublic of Korea

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