Problems in translating culture : the translated titles of Fusheng liuji

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Abstract

Translating culture poses fundamental problems of perception and conception far deeper than matters of linguistic expression. This essay explores some of these problems by examining Fusheng liuji (Six Records of a Floating Life), a Chinese autobiographical text that has been translated into fourteen Asian and European languages. Even without going into the details of the rendered versions, one can notice various forms of intercultural mediation and reshaping in the translated titles and added subtitles. At one end is direct, partly helpless substitution: lexically flawless “float” cannot encompass the rich matrix of philosophical connotations and artistic resonances of fu in the source culture. At the other end is active reshaping: recasting, addition and omission based on interpretive (mis)reading, including a reduction of imagistic language into abstract concept (e.g., fu becomes “fleeting”). Through examining 17 renditions of the title of Fusheng liuji, this essay offers a case study that helps to cast light on the unavoidable factor of intercultural mediation in the translation process, with special focus on the translation of philosophical and aesthetic concepts. Some forms of mediation carry more significant effects than others, and there may be differences in verbal resources and orientations in various languages worthy of notice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-206
Number of pages30
JournalTTR: Traduction, Terminologie, Redaction
Volume24
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011

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Mediation
Translating
Language
Substitution
Subtitles
European Languages
Abstract Concepts
Omission
Rendition
Fundamental
Translation Process
Misreading
Conception
Aesthetics
Resources
Asian Languages

Cite this

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title = "Problems in translating culture : the translated titles of Fusheng liuji",
abstract = "Translating culture poses fundamental problems of perception and conception far deeper than matters of linguistic expression. This essay explores some of these problems by examining Fusheng liuji (Six Records of a Floating Life), a Chinese autobiographical text that has been translated into fourteen Asian and European languages. Even without going into the details of the rendered versions, one can notice various forms of intercultural mediation and reshaping in the translated titles and added subtitles. At one end is direct, partly helpless substitution: lexically flawless “float” cannot encompass the rich matrix of philosophical connotations and artistic resonances of fu in the source culture. At the other end is active reshaping: recasting, addition and omission based on interpretive (mis)reading, including a reduction of imagistic language into abstract concept (e.g., fu becomes “fleeting”). Through examining 17 renditions of the title of Fusheng liuji, this essay offers a case study that helps to cast light on the unavoidable factor of intercultural mediation in the translation process, with special focus on the translation of philosophical and aesthetic concepts. Some forms of mediation carry more significant effects than others, and there may be differences in verbal resources and orientations in various languages worthy of notice.",
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Problems in translating culture : the translated titles of Fusheng liuji. / KWONG, Yim Tze, Charles.

In: TTR: Traduction, Terminologie, Redaction, Vol. 24, No. 2, 01.01.2011, p. 177-206.

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

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