The impossibility of erasing difference in translation

Yifeng SUN

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


    Translation is a substitute for the original,and the two texts thus involved can-not be exactly the same.Few would claim otherwise presently.But translation is still expected to at-tain a degree of approximation,which is fully understandable since it is bound up in the question ofits very identity.Familiar metaphors of translation studies such as"resemblance","matching","adequacy"and"faithfulness"are due to an implicit awareness that translation is different from theoriginal.Yet this difference is largely eschewed by translation scholars,who seem more interestedin addressing translation problems or perceived ones unmistakably rooted in difference,rather thandifference itself as a central cultural nucleus of communication in the form of translation.Instead,the emphasis is primarily on how to enable translation to reach toward an attainable state in whichthe translator is able to overcome untranslatability.This paper attempts to tackle the perennial,ques-tion of perceiving difference in translation and to argue that reducfionism in extracting meaning fromthe original will seriously undermine the fullness of meaning in the process of translation as a meansof communication.
    Original languageEnglish
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2002


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