Beyond tally : cultural and spatial meanings of ‘interpreting’ in Ancient China

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Abstract

More than half of the published translation research in the recent decade is broadly historical in nature. Many confined to locating and quantifying archival translation or interpreting traces. But what if the located references do not actually denote translation or interpreting? The data collected then will probably be a mismatch of researchers’ intent. This incongruence raises concerns over the validity of their methodology and results. This study aims to combine quantitative and qualitative tools in examining archived passages on interpreting, steering itself clear of such potential pitfalls. Based on 192 passages documenting agents and acts of interpreting written before 6th-century China, I categorized the data on various themes for textual analyses. One of the themes ‘interpreting and spatial-cultural orientation’ contains 11 passages. The result of the qualitative analysis of these passages suggests that words referring to ‘interpreting’ do not actually denote linguistic mediation. After examining their broader contexts, references to ‘interpreting’ or ‘translation’ are found to function as reference points to inform spatial and cultural dynamics of Sinitic China and its counterparts. This study is significant in two regards. First, it examines the epistemology and values of classical references to ‘interpreting’. Second, it explores the ideological significance of interpreting in ancient China, which in turn casts light on the characteristics of its interpreting traditions.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2018
EventThe 6th International Association for Translation and Intercultural Studies (IATIS) Conference : Translation and Cultural Mobility - Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong
Duration: 3 Jul 20186 Jul 2018
https://www.iatis.org/images/stories/6thIATISConference_BookOfAbstracts.pdf

Conference

ConferenceThe 6th International Association for Translation and Intercultural Studies (IATIS) Conference : Translation and Cultural Mobility
CountryHong Kong
CityKowloon Tong
Period3/07/186/07/18
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Keywords

  • Conceptualizations of translation
  • Chinese interpreting tradition
  • Spatial-cultural meanings of interpreting

Cite this

LUNG, R. (2018). Beyond tally : cultural and spatial meanings of ‘interpreting’ in Ancient China. Paper presented at The 6th International Association for Translation and Intercultural Studies (IATIS) Conference : Translation and Cultural Mobility, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong.