19.3819, Review: Translation: Wang & Sun (2008)

Fri Dec 12 20:44:32 UTC 2008

LINGUIST List: Vol-19-3819. Fri Dec 12 2008. ISSN: 1068 - 4875.

Subject: 19.3819, Review: Translation: Wang & Sun (2008)

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Date: 12-Dec-2008
From: Ka-wai Yeung < kkwyeung at graduate.hku.hk >
Subject: Translation, Globalisation and Localisation


-------------------------Message 1 ---------------------------------- 
Date: Fri, 12 Dec 2008 15:42:05
From: Ka-wai Yeung [kkwyeung at graduate.hku.hk]
Subject: Translation, Globalisation and Localisation

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Announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/19/19-1144.html 

Editor: Wang, Ning; Sun, Yifeng 
Title: Translation, Globalisation and Localisation
Subtitle: A Chinese Perspective
Series Title: Topics in Translation 35
Publisher: Multilingual Matters
Year: 2008 

Ka-wai Yeung, Department of English, Hang Seng School of Commerce, HKSAR 

This book belongs to the Topics in Translation series published by the
Multilingual Matters. According to the publisher, it is the first anthology of
translation studies edited by two Chinese scholars published in the English
speaking world. Indeed, the anthology contains essays dealing with issues of
cross-cultural tensions and the eventual translation dilemma between the
globalized and localized poles in the Mainland China. On one hand, the book
successfully globalizes the research results on translation studies made by
domestic Chinese researchers. On the other, it demonstrates the endeavors to
localize international translation theories in the Chinese context. The essays
do not produce a unified theory to translation studies in China, but they
coherently explore the issues from both cultural and theoretical perspectives.
In addition to theoretical illustrations, the book includes essays of case
studies to shed light on related issues of translating popular culture,
post-coloniality and language hegemony. 

The book comprises ten essays, which are grouped into two parts ''Historical
Overviews'' and ''Current Developments'', prefaced with an introduction by the two
editors. Part 1 ''Historical Overviews'' narrates and describes domestic Chinese
translation studies in a broader cross-cultural context under the influence of
globalization, aiming to ''globalize'' the work by Chinese scholars. Part 2
''Current Developments'' collects essays with individual interests and offers
various analyses or case studies on adopted theories of translation and
cross-cultural studies in China, i.e. to ''localize'' Western theories in the
Chinese context. 

The introduction convinces the reader of the necessity of such an anthology to
make the international community aware of the underrepresented research by
Chinese scholars. It also sets out the scope of discussion in the book in terms
of regions and theories, and justifies the collection of essays by highlighting
the features and contributions of each essay to the globalization or
localization of translation studies in the Chinese context.

Chapter 1 ''Transvaluing the Global: Translation, Modernity, and Hegemonic
Discourse'' discusses globalization and dissects the internal conflicting
preference for welcoming or resisting the overwhelming globalization influence
in translation studies that originated in the hegemony and the ''desire for the
Centre'' of many Chinese intellectuals. The argument is demonstrated by various
ideological movements dating from the 1800s to the contemporary period and
eventually putting forward a notion of universality in cross-cultural exchange
of which ''the practice of translation is necessarily a mode for articulating the
in-betweenness of cultures'' (30).

Chapter 2 ''Translation in the Global/Local Tension'' outlines a model of
translation as a type of cross-cultural communication. Apart from the
translators, the author brings in the role of publishing houses in the
globalization/ localization tension. Based on his comprehensive knowledge in the
situation in his own country, the author largely bases his discussions on
Denmark, attempting to provide some insights on the development of translation
practices in China.

Chapter 3 ''Translation Studies in China: A 'Glocalised' Theoretical Practice'' is
the highlight essay in Part 1, which provides an encyclopedic historical
overview of translation studies development in China from the ever-prevailing
Yan Fu's three-character principle (faithfulness, expressiveness and elegance)
that has haunted all Chinese translators, to the latest cutting-edge issues that
subsume translation studies under cultural studies, such as Chang's (2001)
polysystem theory, and Derrida's (2001) deconstructionist approach. It also
introduces how several Western theories have been adopted and ''metamorphosed'' by
domestic Chinese scholars in the local context.

Chapter 4 ''On Cultural Translation: A Postcolonial Perspective'' is an
application of the author's translation theory in the globalization context.
Clinging to the belief that ''translation [...] is a matter of culture'' (75), the
author shows how translation is ''colonizing'' and ''decolonizing'' a certain
culture from a postcolonial perspective with the ultimate aim to promoting
cross-cultural dialogues. 

Chapter 5 ''Towards Pluralistic and Interdisciplinary Approaches: A Reflection on
Translation Studies in Contemporary China'' offers more empirical research in
translation studies in contemporary China, with a heightened feature of the urge
toward an interdisciplinary orientation in the future trend of translation
studies. In addition to the cultural approach and the postcolonial approach, the
author evaluates the domesticating versus foreignizing translation strategy
(Venuti, 1995) in the Chinese context.

Part 2 begins with Chapter 6 ''A Global View of Translation Studies: Towards an
Interdisciplinary Field'', which is based on a conference paper presented in
China. The chapter describes the development of translation studies as a
discipline in Europe, the U.S. and China, and hence reaches an encouraging
conclusion to Chinese scholars that China positively maintains a global
perspective and interdisciplinary connections, which ensures a healthy and
prosperous future in the discipline.

Chapter 7 ''Transgression and Appropriation in Transnational Cultural
Translation: A Deconstructive Observation'' and Chapter 8 ''When a Turning Occurs:
Counter-evidence to Polysystem Hypothesis'' are two theory-driven essays. The
former deals with the deterritorializing perspective (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987)
involving transgression and appropriation in transnational cultural translation;
while the latter uses the co-existence of the domestication and foreignization
strategies in translating during China's cultural turn as the evidence to point
out the limitation of the polysystem theory, which predicts the mutually
exclusive presence of the two strategic orientations in a single culture. 

Chapter 9 ''Translating Popular Culture: Feng Xiaogang's Film Big Shot's Funeral
as a Polynuclear Text'' and Chapter 10 ''English as a Postcolonial Tool:
Anti-hegemonic Subversions in a Hegemonic Language'' serve as two case studies of
cross-cultural dialogues in the globalization context. It is worth noting that
the former assumes that readers are intrinsically translators of the text they
are reading; while the latter provides a cross-cultural reference for the issue
of language hegemony in which three examples of Korean, Japanese and Chinese
novelists writing in English are analyzed.

The collection serves as a general and up-to-date representation of translation
and cross-cultural studies in the Chinese context. It is a successful attempt to
present the current Chinese translation and cultural studies, which are ''little
known to scholars outside'', to an international audience and research community.
At least three chapters of the anthology (Chapter 1, 3 and 5) involve historical
reviews on the development of translation studies in Mainland China, but each
provides a specific focus, such as the hegemonic belief within Chinese
intellectuals that resists globalization (Chapter 1), the globalization and
localization of translation theories in Mainland China (Chapter 3) and the
illustration of a pluralistic and interdisciplinary approach in translation
studies in China (Chapter 5). Thanks to its research focus, readers would find
Chapter 3 the most comprehensive portrait of the landscape of translation
studies in the Mainland China and is capable of serving as the most ''effective
guide for those who do not have much knowledge of Chinese translation studies'' (8). 

While most of the contributors are domestic Chinese scholars, a few of them are
overseas Chinese researchers and Western scholars who are ''very interested in
Chinese culture and its recent development in translation studies''. The book
generally succeeds in embracing issues from a ''Chinese perspective'', but some
essays may appear less focused on the Chinese perspective. While Chinese readers
may find Dollerup's (2008) model of translation and his experience in Denmark a
good reference for the case in China, they may demand more examples and
references to the Chinese context for a better application and a more convincing
illustration. Similarly, in Chapter 3, when the authors attempt to demonstrate
the ''localization'' of Western translation theories in the Chinese context, more
elucidation on how Miao (2001) relates and ''localizes'' Toury's theory in China
may be of assistance to fully appreciate her adaptation of the theory in the
Chinese context. 

A related problem would be about the presentation of examples for the
international readership. If the readership targets international scholars, who
may not be familiar with the Chinese language, the editors may consider the use
of transliteration in the illustrative examples in case studies (e.g. pp. 151, 152).

Unlike other readers to Chinese translation theories which merely reiterate
selected readings in the English language, this anthology excels in its richness
and depth thanks to its refreshing views and critical perspectives. Extensive
research by each contributor is conspicuous and highly appreciated, even though
occasional citations from secondary sources are avoidable. Strenuous efforts are
observed in the editing, despite a tiny lapse found in the bibliography for the
entry of Chen, Eoyang Eugene (1996). All in all, the book stands out as a fine
collection of contemporary translation and cross-cultural studies that surely
deepens our understanding of the underrepresented Chinese research community.
The editors have accomplished the ambitious task of putting Chinese translation
and cross-cultural studies under the spotlight and they should be at ease that
the anthology is one step closer to the new ''translation turn'' in cultural studies.

Chang, Nam-fung (2001)''From periphery to center(?): Past and future of Chinese
translation studies as viewed from a polysystemic perspective.'' _Journal of
Foreign Languages_, 4, July, pp. 61-69.

Deleuza, Gilles & Gauttari, Felix (1987) _A Thousand Plateaus_ (v.2 of
Capitalism and Schizophrenia) (B. Massumi, trans.). Minneapolis: University of
Minnesota Press.

Derrida, Jacques (2001) ''What is a 'relevant' translation?'' _Critical Inquiry_,
27, 2, pp. 174-200.

Dollerup, Cay (2008) ''Translation in the Global/Local Tension''. In Wang, N. &
Sun, Y. (Eds.) _Translation, Globalisation and Localisation: A Chinese
Perspective_. Clevedon, Buffalo, Toronto: Multilingual Matters, pp. 31-49.

Miao, Ju (2001) ''Translation norms: The core of Toury's translation theory
(Fanyi Zhunze: Toury Fanyi Lilun de Hexin).'' _Foreign Languages and Teaching_,
11, pp. 29-32.

Venuti, Lawarence (1995) _The Translator's Invisibility: A History of
Translation_. London: Routledge.

Ka-wai Yeung graduated from the University of Hong Kong. Her major research
interests include comparative linguistics, translation theories, pragmatics and
syntactic categories. After conducting investigations in comparative linguistic
studies between Chinese and English in her MPhil studies, she has applied
linguistic theories into translation practices with specific reference to
Chinese-English and English-Chinese translation in her doctoral research.
Outside academia, she has worked as a free-lance translator for screen dubbing
and subtitles for documentaries and movies. She now works as a Lecturer teaching
ESL and Business English in matriculation and Associate Degree levels. 


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