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James St. André

This paper sets out to demonstrate that pseudo-translation is an integral part of the history of translation, playing a vital role at certain times and places. Specifically, I demonstrate that for much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, pseudo-translation was actually an important player in the contested field of translations from oriental languages and the emergent discipline of Oriental studies. Such works were part of that field of knowledge, both at the specialist and the popular level, and helped shape contemporary European conceptions of the orient. Drawing on the work of Gideon Toury and Theo Hermans for theoretical justification, I use Bourdieu’s concept of the field of literary production to examine the interaction between genuine and pseudo-translations from Chinese into English from the eighteenth to the early twentieth centuries, focusing in particular on Sir John Francis Davis’s genuine translation, The Sorrows of Han, and Frederick Marryat’s pseudo-translation, The Pacha of Many Tales, which incorporates and orientalizes Davis’s translation.

China and Its Others

Knowledge Transfer through Translation, 1829-2010


Edited by James St. André and Hsiao-yen PENG

This volume brings together some of the latest research by scholars from the UK, Taiwan, and Hong Kong to examine a variety of issues relating to the history of translation between China and Europe, aimed at increasing dialogue between Chinese studies and translation studies. Covering the nineteenth century to the present, the essays tackle a number of important issues, including the role of relay translation, hybridity and transculturation, methods for the incorporation of foreign words and concepts, the problems entailed by the importation of foreign paradigms and epistemes, the role of public institutions, the issue of agency, and the role of metaphors to conceptualize translation. By examining the dissemination of certain key terms from the West to the East, often through pivotal languages, and by laying bare the transformation of knowledge conveyed through these terms, the essays go well beyond the “difference and similarity” comparison model in the investigation of East-West relations, demonstrating that transcultural hybridity is a more meaningful topic to pursue. Moreover, they demonstrate how the translator, always working simultaneously under several domestic and foreign institutions, needs to resort to “selection, deletion and compromise”, in other words personal free choice, when negotiating among institutional powers.


Joyce C. H. Liu

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).


Peng Hsiao-yen

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.


Max K. W. Huang

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.