Translating forensic science in detective stories in early Hong Kong Chinese newspapers

Bo LI*

*Corresponding author for this work

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


The role played by translation during the late Qing period has been highlighted in much recent research, and the translation of detective stories is of course not a new area of academic inquiry. The difference between Chinese Gong'an (court case) and Western detective stories in particular has been acknowledged, and the Chinese translation of detective stories merits further research and inquiry. Actually, Western detective stories, especially English ones, are fraught with advanced science and technology and thus considered as miniature of modernity. In lieu of this, we can observe the interest in the relationship between detective stories and the rise of forensic science, Western medicine, and photographic technology in particular. Given the discrepancy between Western medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is indispensable to answer the following questions: How was the Western medicine perceived and translated into the Hong Kong context? How was photographic technology in foreign detective stories understood and applied in local writing, pseudo translation to be specific? This article will focus on several aspects of Western medicine, medical terms, symptoms of disease, treatment, and forensic toxicology. The (mis)understanding/manipulation of photographic technology in pseudo translation will also be examined. Case studies will cover the translations in the early Chinese newspapers in Hong Kong in the beginning decade of the twentieth century.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)626-639
Number of pages14
JournalComparative Literature Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The work described in this article was fully supported by a grant from the research Grant Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative region, China (Project no. CityU 21601417).

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2021. The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA.


  • Chinese newspapers in Hong Kong
  • Detective stories
  • Photography
  • TCM
  • Western medicine


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