Gulliver’s Travels was introduced into the Chinese-speaking world in 1872. Ever since, it has been one of the most popular translations/mistranslations in Chinese translation history. In 1997, the National Science Council in Taiwan launched the Annotated Translation Projects of the Classics in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Several apparatuses were required for such a project: a critical introduction, annotations, a chronology of the author, and references. As a scholar-cum-translator, I believe that a translator should better serve his target audience by informing them about the reception history of a particular text not only in its source context, but also in its target context. The translation project of Gulliver’s Travels provides me with an excellent opportunity to carry out my theory of dual contextualization, which is derived from my years of translation and my exposure to contemporary literary, cultural, and translation theories. This paper is a self-reflection of a scholar-cum-translator whose thick translation of Gulliver’s Travels intends to provide a unique Chinese version of this literary classic.
Almost all major Chinese poets in the post-Mao era have been enthusiastic in writing about their western (post-)modernist forerunners. In a way, this can be understood as translation of the great Western minds into the Chinese context. But if translation is etymologically synonymous to transference, we can discover that the process of translation can also be seen as that of transference in the psychoanalytic sense that links the Western masters (as texts) and their Chinese followers (as readers): the latter, nevertheless, transfer back feelings onto the former. This paper examines, with the help of the Lacanian theory of transference, how the Chinese poets address their sentiments, in different ways, to the presumably authoritative other. The major trends of transcultural transference in recent Chinese poetry correspond to the three Lacanian registers of the imaginary, the symbolic and the real: (1) imaginary identification with the other as the ideal-ego to create an intact, narcissistic, albeit illusionary, mirror image; (2) symbolic identification with the big Other as the ego-ideal that is expected to construct a modern(ized) cultural subject; and (3) transformation of the Other into an objet petit a as the way to invoke the ever-eluding desire and approach the traumatic core of the impossibility of identification or self-identity.
Employing the term “translation” as problematics of aboriginal representations in colonial Taiwan, this paper examines how primitivity or exotica of the colonized (the Atayal people) is rendered in Shimizu Hiroshi’s film ‘Sayon’s Bell’ (1943) and other retellings of Sayon Hayun’s story. To highlight the asymmetrical power relations embedded in colonial exchange through translation, this paper first examines Japanese colonizers ’ construction of savagery and civility, analyzing the transfiguring process in which Taiwan’s aborigines are transformed from the savage other to martyred imperial subjects. It then draws on Venuti’s notions of “domestication” and “foreignization”, regarding the dissemination of Japanese colonial discourse as the former whereas the capture of Taiwanese aborigines’ ethnic/racial particularity the latter. Rather than reading the film as an exemplary national-policy film, this paper argues Shimizu’s meditative role as a cultural translator actually creates a space of slippage within colonial discourse as the film contains both domesticating and foreignizing translation tactics. Accordingly, Shimizu’s cinematic techniques and Li Xianglan’s transnational identity suggest more contradictions and ambiguities within imperialization discourse than a clear-cut reinforcement of it.
Wang Guowei's translations of utilitarian ethics and education theory reveal clearly the role that he played at Education World and as a Chinese intellectual. His participation in the public discourse fit into the plans of Luo Zhenyu both at the journal and later at the Ministry of Education of the late Qing government. Those theories of ethics and education Wang and Luo introduced became the main axis of Chinese ethical thought throughout the twentieth century; they defined the terms in which the subject related to society or the state. This essay points out that, during his exploration of the limits of Western and classical Chinese ethics, Wang’s own philosophical writings at the time analyzed the limitations of dualism in the ethical discourse both in the West and in Chinese classical philosophy. Wang demonstrated a critique of utilitarianism and life-ism (生生主義) that was popular at the time. As well as a critique, he also developed an aesthetic and ethical view: no-life-ism (無生主義).
There has been growing attention in Translation research to investigate the translator’s voice from the perspective of the translator rather than the original author. This paper examines one Chinese translation of Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea (1952), produced by Hai Guan in 1956. The study conducts a critical analysis of Hai’s translation of a passage of sixty sentences from The Old Man and the Sea. The investigation concerns the translation of speech and thought presentation as well as verbal clauses. The textual features identified are mapped onto the specific sociocultural context of production in an attempt to find out correlations between them and the potential causes of the translator’s choices. The findings reveal correlations between text and context in the given translational activity. Hai’s linguistic options selected in the target text reflect the historical context of production in the newly established PRC. His textual choices were a result of a set of socio-cultural and ideological constraints imposed on the translation process and left traces in his language used.
Tracing the traveling of neurasthenia, a modern disease, this paper starts with a 1933 Shanghai Neo-Sensation story in which a modern boy resorts to medical and psychological terms to engage in self-analysis. The story shows it is through translation that we learn to name our perceptions and mental illnesses. The paper then investigates the relationships between knowledge/power and the translator’s agency and creativity. During the process of cultural translation, facing the interactions of different institutional practices—Confucianism, Buddhism, traditional medicine and Western medical science—how does the translator practice the art of “selection, deletion, and compromise”? It is through “individual free choice” that the translator manages to cross the boundaries of institutional practices in order to create.
In the late Qing, newly translated Chinese terms invented by the Japanese and imported into China exerted a tremendous cultural influence. Facing this invasion, Chinese officials and scholars bitterly criticized the new terms, and sometimes created their own alternatives. This competition lasted from the late Qing to the early Republican period, when most of the terms with Japanese origins were incorporated into the Chinese language.
This paper describes this semantic competition and discusses the terms invented by Yan Fu, who used both transliteration and free translation. Yan failed to unify the translation of terms while he worked for the Ministry of Education, and most of his terms were abandoned. However, the competition between the terms invented by Yan and those from the Japanese speaks to the insights contained in the pre-Qin scholar Xunzi’s view on “the correct use of names.” The methods Yan Fu used in creating new terms reveal Yan’s standard of translation, the translated terms combining transliteration and free translation with accuracy, elegance, and accessibility.
Partly because of the increased use of the computer in creative writing, from the mid-1990s onward, visual, audio and performing-arts components have been integrated into the Chinese poetic text in an unprecedented manner. This paper presents a number of poems where visual form interacts with literary technique. When dealing with these texts, translators have often opted for non-translation. Indeed, translation of these texts presents serious challenges: How can we translate into an alphabetic language the interplay between verbal and visual so inherently embedded in certain uses of Chinese characters? How can we translate the relation and involvement between different artistic media into an exclusively verbal format? After presenting three different but not exclusive modes of resorting to the visual in contemporary Chinese poetry, I point out unique text-based issues, and derive a number of theoretical implications, which can inform the translation of these poems into English.