Auto-image and norms in source-initiated translation in China

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


This article explores an area that has so far been under-researched in polysystem studies – literary translation initiated by the source culture. The case studied is translation of Chinese literature into English planned by the government of the People’s Republic of China. It is found that in such translations, some Chinese weights and measures were converted into British ones in the 1950s but increasingly conserved since the 1970s. In the meantime, weights and measures tended to be conserved in English–Chinese translation but converted in Chinese–English translation initiated by the target culture. It can be seen that the norms governing translation initiated by the source culture are determined mainly by factors internal to that culture. A probable explanation is that norms governing source-oriented translation are correlated to the auto-image of the source culture, which has been on the rise in the case of China. It is hoped that the findings of this case study may contribute to the augmentation of polysystem theory and Descriptive Translation Studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-107
Number of pages12
JournalAsia Pacific Translation and Intercultural Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


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