Faithfulness, manipulation, and ideology : a descriptive study of Chinese translation tradition

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

8 Citations (Scopus)


Translation in China has often been done in the service of ideology. This has affected not only the choice of text, but also translation strategies, as can be seen in a number of examples where the source texts were tampered with. However, mainstream translation poetics has always been concerned with the establishment of faithfulness as the overriding criterion for all translations, as if translation should or can be insulated from the interference of socio-cultural factors and the purpose of translation. In recent decades this poetics has exerted pressure on translators to adopt conservative strategies where linguistic rather than ideological considerations are involved. This has led to three apparent contradictions: between theory and practice of translation, between the position of translated literature in the literary polysystem and its behaviour, and between the criterion of faithfulness and the need to serve ideology; but ultimately it has served to maintain the illusion of accuracy for the effective exercise of manipulation, only to be overridden when it goes against the interests of ideology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-258
Number of pages24
JournalPerspectives: Studies in Translatology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1998


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