The Emergence Of Descriptive Translation Cultural Studies Essay


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According to the Chinese Translator Journal and other first-class academic journals in Translation Studies in China, it has been widely acknowledged that China has currently achieved greatly in translation theories on translating the foreign works into Chinese. When it comes to the full development of translation studies, A History of Translation Theory in China (2000) points out that there exist two tendencies in Chinese translation theories.[9] The first trend is the early Chinese translation theories, especially in ancient times, was overall fragmentary or unsystematic with the sporadic thoughts focusing on Buddhist work. The other is the period of the New Culture Movement (around the time of the May 4th Movement in 1919) which witnessed a rise of translation practices and studies with more specific and detailed issues on translation itself.

Taking the two-thousand-year's history of translation studies into consideration, both Chinese and Western scholars have taken it for granted that the issue of "how to translate" is certainly to be the all content of all translation issues. Since 1950s the translation studies has drastically promoted translation studies all over the world, and was turned it into a diverse stage for a simple reason that western translation studies has come to jump out of the limitation of personal and subjective experience. An evidence that can directly be used to explain and illustrate this trend is the notion of "culture turn", which has been considered as a paradigm shift of translation studies in modern times. The new insight exerts more emphasis on the cultural even more psychological aspects, including such as the readers' various reading expectation, the specific linguistic code of a certain time, the more interdisciplinary influence between politics, culture, ideology and so no. Although it is no doubt that the process of translation seems to be the simple transition between two different languages, the specific cultural, literary, and even political backgrounds should be considered for target cultures as well.

As the porfessor Xie Tianzhen cited in his article "On the Misconceptions in Translation Studies and Theories in Our Country" in Chinese Translator Journal(2001), that instead of taking translation as "translation" more translators tended to use a more generalized word "translation action" to describe such kind of linguistic exchange.[10] Moreover modern western feminism scholar Shelly Simon once noted that the most exciting part of translation studies was the section called "cultural turn" since 1980s. In understanding the term of "cultural turn" in translation studies which occupying a canonical position in this research, the thesis quotes the statement addressed by Anuradha Dingwaney and Carol Maier:

"The processes of translation involved in making another culture comprehensible entail varying degrees of violence, especially when the culture being translated is constituted as that of the 'other'."[11]

Back to the symbol that "marked" the age, it is a turn that promotes translation studies to another new platform, rather than the traditional issues such as "How should we translate? "and "What is a correct and strict translation?" etc. Therefore, scholars and translators from then on have put more emphasis on a descriptive methods, for example, the issue of "What does a translation do?" and " How do they circulate in the world and elicit response?" Translation, thus being regarded not merely as a kind of linguistic writing practice, but also a representation of different cultures and traditions.

In addition, the recent years has also witnessed the rise of subjectivity of translator and intersubjective relationship in translation studies. According to Reflections on the Studies of Translator's Subjectivity in China from 1996-2005 (2006) by Hou Lin Ping and Jiang Si Pin.[12] The issue of translator's status and the intersubjectivity have become a overwhelming topic in translation studies for it can better proclaim the essence of translation. Under the influence of pragmatic turn in western philosophical studies from 1970s and the "cultural turn" in 1990s, the scope of translation studies has been furthered from merely language to man and culture. Thus, the newly "discovered" status of translator undoubtedly becomes the new topic in translation studies."[13]

Since 1990s, scholars have developed and enlarged the vision of translation studies by combining various aspects together. In the last decade, instead of subjective appreciation of translated texts, many famous scholars focused more on intrinsic nature of translation precess such as Cai Xinle(蔡æ-°ä¹) with his book Ontological Research of Translation(2005), and Chen Liming(陈历明) with his book Translation As Polyphonic Dialogues(2006) and Gu Zhengkun(辜正坤)etc. Besides, other scholars such as Xu Yuanchong(许渊冲), Xu Jun(许钧), Liu Huawen(刘华æ-‡) and Xie Tianzhen(谢天振) etc. have devoted their efforts to promote and emphasize the role translator plays, which strongly smash the traditional criterion of translation and appreciation of translated texts. Meanwhile, more scholars, such as Wu Guangjun(武光军), Zhang Boran(张柏然) and Hu Cui'e(胡翠娥) have begun to explore the different molds of translation, which definitely enlighten a new field of vision in translation studies. Yang Wuneng(杨武能), one of pioneering scholars to attach importance to the study of translation subjects, payed attention not only on the role of the writer or the creator of the source text, but also the target reader who conveying and promoting the sense and culture of a text.

From the perspective of collusion, the the action of translation becomes a mysterious and capricious representative of different cultural dialogues rather than the stiff combination of linguistic symbols. The following graph shows the comparison between topics of "collusion"and relative fields under culture turn studied by Chinese postgraduates during 1990-2010.

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