From Faithfulness to Information Quality: On 信 in Translation Studies
- 15 Downloads
Yan Fu’s three challenges in translation 譯事三難 were put forward based on his experience in translating Thomas Huxley’s Evolution and Ethics 天演論. However, it has been suggested that Xin 信 (faithful), Da 達 (expressive), and Ya 雅 (elegant) actually were ‘translated’ from Tytler’s ( 1907) Three Principles of Translation: that good translation should fully represent the (1) ideas and (2) style of the original and should (3) possess the ease of original composition. Being Xin, Da, and Ya has been upheld as the dictum defining three hierarchical levels for good translation in the Chinese context. Following this dictum, Ya (elegant) is the elusive ultimate goal, while Xin has been assumed to be a baseline of translation that is easily attainable. Chao (1969a, b), however, argued that the full functional representation of Xin 信 should instead be the most critical test of good translation, influenced by Eugene Nida’s functional equivalence, and perhaps aware of Tytler’s three principles. Elaborating on Y. R. Chao’s position by incorporating the new concept of information quality, this paper shows that the claims of easy attainment of Xin 信 is misled and misleading. We point out that it is impossible to find direct mapping between word meanings of two languages and the meanings of translation equivalents are overlapping depending on context. Therefore, verbatim translation is by no means Xin; rather, Xin must be judged by the quality of the transferred information. In particular, we illustrate how interpreting Xin 信 as requiring translation with high information quality will truly define good translation with the translation of two near synonym pairs. Xin as information quality can only be achieved by careful consideration of meanings in context in both languages. We conclude that Xin requires a careful study into comparable corpora to find the optimal choice of a particular word in a specific context, especially when several near synonyms are in competition for the same core meaning in both source and target languages. The concept of and emphasis on information quality should be critical foundation of the value of translation in the highly connected context of information economy.
KeywordsFaithfulness Information quality Translation principles Comparable corpora
- Austin, J. L. (1962). How to do things with words. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Chao, Y.-R. (1934). The non-uniqueness of phonemic solutions of phonetic systems. Bulletin of the Institute of History and Philology 363–398.Google Scholar
- Chao, Y.-R. (1969a). Dimensions of fidelity in translation with special reference to Chinese. Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 29, 109–130. Also in Chao, Y.-R. (1976). Aspects of Chinese sociolinguistics: Essays. Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
- 趙元任 (Chao Y-R) (1969b) 論翻譯中信, 達, 雅的信的幅度. Bulletin of the Institute of History and Philology: 1–13.Google Scholar
- Church, K., & Hunks, P. (1990). Words association norms, mutual information & lexicology. Computational Linguistics, 16, 22–29.Google Scholar
- Ding, H., Zhang, Y., & Liu, H. et al. (2017). A preliminary phonetic investigation of alphabetic words in Mandarin Chinese. In Interspeech 17, Stockholm, August 20–24, 2017.Google Scholar
- Francopoulo, G. (Ed.). (2013). LMF—Lexical markup framework. London: ISTE.Google Scholar
- Huang, C.-R. (2002). Issues in the structure of lexicons: A multilingual perspective. In ISLE/EAGLES Workshop: MILE as a Step towards Sharable Multilingual Resources, Pisa, December 2–3, 2002.Google Scholar
- Huang, C.-R. (2009). Tagged Chinese Gigaword Version 2.0. LDC2009T14. Linguistic Data Consortium, Philadelphia. https://catalog.ldc.upenn.edu/LDC2009T14.
- 黄居仁 (Huang, C.-R.), 刘洪超 (Liu, H.) (2017). 基于语料库的汉语字母词自动抽取与分析 (Corpus-based Automatic Extraction and Analysis of Mandarin Alphabetic Words). 云南师范大学学报(哲学社会科学版) 49 (3), 10–21.Google Scholar
- Huang, C.-R., Tseng, E. I. J., Tsai, D. B. S., et al. (2003). Cross-lingual portability of semantic relations: bootstrapping Chinese WordNet with English WordNet relations. Language and Linguistics, 4(3), 509–532.Google Scholar
- Huang, C.-R., Kilgarriff, A., & Wu, Y. et al. (2005). Chinese Sketch Engine and the extraction of grammatical collocations. In Proceedings of the Fourth SIGHAN Workshop on Chinese Language Processing (pp. 48–55).Google Scholar
- Huang, C.-R., Simon, P., & Hsieh, S. K. (2007). Automatic discovery of named entity variants. In Proceedings of the Association of Computational Linguistics Annual Meeting, Prague (pp. 153–156), June 25–28, 2007.Google Scholar
- Huang, C.-R., Chang, R.-Y., & Lee, H.-B. (2010). Sinica BOW (Bilingual Ontological WordNet): Integration of bilingual WordNet and SUMO. In C.-R. Huang, N. Calzolari, A. Gangemi, et al. (Eds.), Ontology and the Lexicon: A natural language processing perspective (pp. p201–211). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Hunston, S., & Thompson, G. (Eds.). (2000). Evaluation in text: Authorial stance and the construction of discourse. Oxford: OUP.Google Scholar
- Kilgarriff, A., & Tugwell, D. (2002). Sketching words. In M.-H. Corréard (Ed.), Lexicography and natural language processing: A festschrift in honour of B.T.S. Atkins. Euralex, Grenoble (pp. 125–137).Google Scholar
- Kilgarriff, A., Rychlý, P., & Smrz, P. et al. (2004). The Sketch Engine. In Proceedings of EURALEX, Lorient, 2004.Google Scholar
- Searle, J. R. (1975). Indirect speech acts. In P. Cole & J. L. Morgan (Eds.), Syntax and semantics 3: Speech acts. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Su, Q., Huang, C.-R., & Chen, H. K.-Y. (2010). Evidentiality for text trustworthiness detection. In Proceedings of the 2010 Workshop on NLP and Linguistics: Finding the Common Ground, Association for Computational Linguistics, Uppsala (pp. 10–17), July 16, 2010.Google Scholar
- Tate, M. A. (2018). Web wisdom: How to evaluate and create information quality on the Web (3rd ed.). CRC Press.Google Scholar
- Tytler, A. F. ( 1907). Essays on the principles of translation. London: Dent.Google Scholar
- Wang, X., & Huang, C.-R. (2018). From near synonyms to power relation variations in communication: A cross-strait comparison of “guli” and “mianli”. In Hong. J.-F., Su, Q., & Wu, J.-S. (Eds.), Chinese Lexical Semantics. 19th Workshop, CLSW 2018, Chiayi, May 26–28, 2018. Lecture notes in artificial intelligence (Vol. 11173, pp. 155–166). Cham: Springer.Google Scholar
- Xiong, J., & Huang, C.-R. (2015). Being assiduous: Do we have BITTERNESS or PAIN?. In Qin, L., & Gao, H. H. (Eds.), Chinese Lexical Semantics. Workshop on Chinese Lexical Semantics, May 2015. Lecture notes in computer science (Vol. 9332, pp. 15–23). Cham: Springer.Google Scholar
- Chinese Word Sketch. (CWS). http://wordsketch.ling.sinica.edu.tw/.
- Collins COBUILD English Dictionary. HarperCollins Publishers. https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english.
- Sinica BOW (The Academia Sinica Bilingual Ontological Wordnet). http://BOW.sinica.edu.tw.
- Sinica Corpus. http://asbc.iis.sinica.edu.tw/.
- The British National Corpus, version 3 (BNC XML Edition). (2007). Distributed by Oxford University Computing Services on behalf of the BNC Consortium. http://www.natcorp.ox.ac.uk/.
- The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English. https://www.ldoceonline.com/.
- The Sketch Engine. http://www.sketchengine.co.uk/.