Advertisement

Neohelicon

, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 197–216 | Cite as

Translation and the relativity of cultural identities

  • Tan Zaixi 
  • Shao Lu 
Speculum

Abstract

Translation as a bridging means of communication across language-cultures has a double role to play: it both constructs and deconstructs, or deconstructs and constructs, the national cultural identity of the source and target texts. The present paper attempts to explore the nature of this double role of translation. By looking at what is constructed and deconstructed in the translation process, and how, it argues a ‘reciprocal’ relationship between the two, emphasizing that neither the ‘deconstruction’ of the source nor the ‘construction’ of the target is to be taken in the absolute. While the core area of what is regarded as a particular cultural identity is distinct, the peripheral areas are by no means as clear-cut. The more access there is to other cultural identities, the more cultural ‘common ground’ there may be between one’s own identity and the identity of the Other, hence the less distinctive the identity of One is from that of the Other. The paper argues that the reciprocal relations between the various processes in translation are in fact the reflection of an underlying postulation, namely the relativity of cultural identity in translation. To support the argument, the paper makes a case study of Lu Xun and his bother’s translation of Short Stories from Abroad by examining both the reasons behind its initial reception failure in Chinese society, and the reasons that can be used to account for an opposite view that the seemingly failed translation has in fact been a positive contribution to the evolution of modern Chinese literature.

Keywords

Cultural Identity Target Language Short Story Source Text Punctuation Mark 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Works Cited

  1. Arnold, Matthew. 1861/1997. The translator’s tribunal (From On Translating Homer). In: Douglas Robinson. 1997. pp. 250–255.Google Scholar
  2. Benjamin, Walter. 1916. On language as such and on the languages of man. In: One Way Street (Translated by Edmund Jephcott and Kingsley Shorter). 1979. London: NLB. pp. 107–123.Google Scholar
  3. Benjamin, Walter. 1923. The task of the translator (Die Aufgabe des Übersetzers). In: Rainer Schulte and John Biguenet (eds.). 1992. pp. 71–82.Google Scholar
  4. Bhabha, Homi. 1994. The Location of Culture. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  5. Brower, Reuben A. (ed.) 1959/2000. On Translation. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Chen, Pingyuan. 1989. Ershi shiji zhongguo xiaoshuo shi (di yi juan) [A History of Chinese Fiction in the 20th Century (Vol. 1)]. Beijing: Beijing University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Duff, Alan. 1981. The Third Language: Recurrent Problems of Translation into English. Oxford: Peramnon Press.Google Scholar
  8. Eco, Umberto. 1995. The Search for the Perfect Language (translated by James Fentress). Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  9. Frawley, William. 1984. Prolegomenon to a theory of translation. In: William Frawley (Ed.). 1984. pp. 159–195.Google Scholar
  10. Frawley, William (ed.). 1984. Translation: Literary, Linguistic, and Philosophical Perspectives. London and Toronto: Associated University Presses.Google Scholar
  11. Holmes James, J. Lambert and R. van den Broeck (eds.). 1978. Literature and Translation: New Perspectives in Literatury Studies. Leuven: Acco.Google Scholar
  12. Hu, Shi. 1998. Lun duanpian xiaoshuo [=On short stories]. In: Hu Shi Wencun (di shi san juan) [=Collected Works of Hu Shi (Vol. 13)]. Beijing: People’s Literature Publishing House. 46–58.Google Scholar
  13. Hung, Eva. 2000. Huan yi bei jing, huan yi gong dao — Lun qingmo minchu yingyu zhentan xiaoshuo zhongyi [On Chinese translations of English detective stories in early modern China]. In: Wong Wang-chi (ed.). 2000. pp. 88–117.Google Scholar
  14. Jacobson, Roman. 1959/2000. On linguistic aspects of translation. In: Reuben A. Brower (ed.). 1959/2000. pp. 232–239.Google Scholar
  15. Kroeber, Alfred Louis and Clyde Kluckhohn. 1963. Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  16. Lefevere, André. 1992. Translating/History/Culture: A Sourcebook. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  17. Lu, Xun and Zhou Zuoren. 1986. Lue li [Preface]. In: Wu Guoqing (ed.). Yuwai xiaoshuo ji [Short stories from abroad]. Changsha: The Yuelu Shushe Publishing. p. 7.Google Scholar
  18. Neubert, Albrecht. 1985. Text and Translation (Übersetzungswissenchaftliche Beiträge 8). Leipzig: VEB Verlag Enzyklopädie.Google Scholar
  19. Newman, Francis W. 1861/1997. The unlearned public is the rightful judge of taste (From Homeric Translation in Theory and Practice). In: Douglas Robinson. 1997. pp. 256–258.Google Scholar
  20. Nida, Eugene. 1964. Toward a Science of Translating. Leiden: E. J. Bril. Reprint in 2003.Google Scholar
  21. Nida, Eugene. 1994. Sociolinguistics as a crucial factor in translating and interpreting (manuscript).Google Scholar
  22. Nida, Eugene and William Reyburn. 1981. Meaning Across Cultures. New York: Orbis Books.Google Scholar
  23. Popoviè, Anton. 1996. Dictionary for the Analysis of Literary Translation. Edmonton: Department of Comparative Literature, The University of Alberta.Google Scholar
  24. Rener, Frederick M. 1989. Interpretatio: Language and Translation from Cicero to Tytler. Amsterdam and Atlanta, GA: Rodopi.Google Scholar
  25. Robinson, Douglas. 1997. Western Translation Theory from Herodotus to Nietzsche. Manchester: St. Jerome Publishing.Google Scholar
  26. Schäffner, Christina and Helen Kelly-Holmes (eds.). 1995. Cultural Functions of Translation. Clevedon, Philadelphia and Adelaide: Multilingual Matters Ltd.Google Scholar
  27. Schleiermacher 1813/1997. On the Different Methods of Translating (Über die verschiedenen Methoden des Übersetzens). Translation by Robinson in Douglas Robinson. 1997. pp. 225–238.Google Scholar
  28. Schulte, Rainer and John Biguenet (eds.). 1992. Theories of Translation: An Anthology of Essays from Dryden to Derrida. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  29. Shuttleworth, Mark and Moira Cowie. 1997. Dictionary of Translation Studies. Manchester: St. Jerome Publishing.Google Scholar
  30. Steiner, George. 2001. After Babel — Aspects of Language and Translation. Third edition. Shanghai: Foreign Language Education Press.Google Scholar
  31. Tan, Zaixi. 2004/2006. Xifang fanyi jianshi [A short history of translation in the West (Revised edition). Beijing: The Commercial Press.Google Scholar
  32. Toury, Gideon. 1978. The Nature and Role of Norms in Literary Translation. In: James S. Holmes, J. Lambert and R. van den Broeck (eds.). 1978, pp. 83–100.Google Scholar
  33. Venuti, Lawrence. 1995a. The Translator’s Invisibility: A History of Translation. London and New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Venuti, Lawrence. 1995b. Translation and the formation of cultural identities. In: Christina Schäffner and Helen Kelly-Holmes (eds.). 1995. pp. 2–25.Google Scholar
  35. Waard, Jan de and Eugene Nida. 1986. From One Language to Another: Functional Equivalence in Bible Translating. New York: Thomas Nelson Publishers.Google Scholar
  36. Wang, Ning. 2002. Translation as Cultural ‘(De)colonisation’. Perspectives: Studies in Translatology 4: 283–292.Google Scholar
  37. Wang, Yougui. 2005. Fanyijia Lu Xun [A Study of the Great Translator Lu Xun]. Tianjin: Nankai University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Wong Wang-chi (ed.). 2000. Fanyi yu chuangzuo: zhongguo jindai fanyi xiaoshuo lun [Translation and Creation: On Early Modern Chinese Translation of Foreign Fiction]. Beijing: Beijing University Press. pp. 88–117.Google Scholar
  39. Wu, Yanren. 1997. Zhongguo zhentanan fanli [=Guide to the use of China Detective Stories]. In: Chen Pingyuan & Xia Xiaohong (eds.). Ershi shiji zhongguo xiaoshuo lilun ziliao (di yi juan) [Theoretical Data on Chinese Fiction in the 20th Century (Vol. 1)]. p. 214.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tan Zaixi 
    • 1
  • Shao Lu 
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of English Language and LiteratureHong Kong Baptist UniversityKowloon TongChina

Personalised recommendations