Translating foreign otherness

Yifeng SUN

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


Central to translation is cultural anxiety and ambivalence about foreign otherness, which is essentially reified in cultural politics underlying translation. The ubiquity of ideology may be exaggerated or overstated, but it is manifest in a tendency to be seen as primarily bound up with language and art, and the needs of translation are inseparable from the political or cultural concerns in the target language system. The cultural politics of difference has a lot to do with truth-telling, sincerity, intelligibility and empathy. Effective translation depends not only upon a reasonable understanding of the content of the message that has been translated, but also on an ability, on the part of the target reader, to relate that message to the relevant cultural situation by developing a necessary knowledge of foreign otherness in its cultural political context. The artifice or artificiality of sameness entails turning away and reduction, yet cultural impositions are understandably considered as intrusive, and debates on literature and translation, often ideologically charged, tend to center around what foreign otherness is capable of doing or undoing. In defiance of the prevailing political conditions, translation may embrace and introduce foreign political and ethical values.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-36
Number of pages14
JournalAcross Languages and Cultures: A Multidisciplinary Journal for Translation and Interpreting Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006


Dive into the research topics of 'Translating foreign otherness'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this