[New publication] Asia Pacific Translation and Intercultural Studies: 6 (1), 2019

Asia Pacific Translation and Intercultural Studies: 6 (1), 2019

Link: https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rtis20/current


Editorial: What can intralingual translation do?, by Xuanmin Luo

The first intralingual workshop in the field of translation was held in 2014 at Bogazici University in Istanbul. The first scholarly gathering of its kind, it gained the attention of translation scholars across nations. Despite differences and diverse points of view among its participants, the conference was both provocative and productive.

Intralingual translation or rewriting, according to Roman Jakobson, is an interpretation of verbal signs by means of other signs of the same languages. (Jakobson, 1959: 233) Thus, translation, together with interlingual translation and inter-semiotic translation, has formed a semiotic system which can interpret all human activities and productions, however noble or humble, static or dynamic.

What can intralingual translation do?

The first is its referential function. Zijian Yang found that in translating Chinese classics into foreign languages, intralingual translation can be used as a reference for the translators, even for sinologists who are in a process of translating Chinese classics into foreign languages. In this translation process, a phase of intralingual translation is added, i.e. its original text can be classic Chinese and its translated text can be modern English, in-between is intralingual translation in modern Chinese. (Yang Zijian, 2005: 62)

It is true that many Chinese classics, e.g. Lao Zi,(《老子》) or The Book of Changes(易經》), have their intralingual translations far before their contemporary interlingual translations. A translator can take, in this case, the advantage of previous intralingual translations as a remedy for his interpretation of classic Chinese texts. It is not a shame for a translator in so doing; instead, this process indicates expertise, sincerity, and responsibility.

Munday argues that intralingual translation is used to achieve an easier reading for children. (Munday, 2009: 201) The Short Stories of Shakespeare in UK is just an example. In China The San Tzu Ching (《三字經》) is an elementary guide to knowledge for children. Parents and primary teachers ask pupils to learn and recite the texts, which are difficult even for adults. As a result, intralingual translation is provided for kids to have a better understanding of the source texts.

The second function is the case of adaptation. Teachers can make use of the simplified or paraphrased version for teaching in class, a kind of practice which would otherwise be done in a senior stage.

The third function of intralingual translation, proposed by Xuanmin Luo at the Bogacizi conference in 2014, is the function of shaping a nation’s modernity, which is “a structural concept dealing with the transformation of whole societies, ideologies, social structure and culture. Modernity confirms the promise of scientific reason to unmask irrational forces and point to the way to necessary social change.” (Alan Swingewood,1998: 140) Besides other functions, intralingual translation was used for constructing a nation’s vernacular. This is especially true when a nation is weak and backward. Taking China as an example, the intralingual translation was used for the construction of modern vernacular. The source texts in this case can be a classic text, or text in dialect which, for its peculiar pronunciation and expressions, was only easily understood by its local neighborhood.

A good sample is Bangqing Han’s Sing-song Girls of Shanghai. The novel, completed at the end of the 19th century, was a book of legendary, which inquiries into the moral and psychological consequences of desire. The novel had been neglected by the major scholars for a couple of decades until it was discovered by Lu Xun (魯迅) and Hu Shi (胡適). It was Eileen Chang (張愛玲) who turned this novel in Wu dialect into modern Chinese vernacular, with different book titles as The Flowers in Blossom and The Fall of the Flowers. Based on her intralingual translation Eileen Chang later translated this book into English which was unearthed among her papers at the University of Southern California, where she moved to from Shanghai since 1956. Eva Hung (孔慧怡) later revised Eileen Chang’s translation with an introduction and had it published by Columbia University Press. A few years later, the novel was developed into a film which was directed by Hou Xiaoxian (侯孝賢), a famous director from Taiwan. A legendary story in dialects has finally been developed into the legendary world of intralingual, interlingual and inter-semiotic translations. What a miracle!

Unlike translation proper, intralingual translation is a rewriting or paraphrasing within the same language system. However, it is not a mere linguistic transfer. Sharing the same function as interlingual translation, its performances can be ideological and historical. It has been used and practiced in the construction of Chinese “Baihua” (modern vernacular) and promoted China’s new literary movement in the early 20th century.


Constructive ambiguity and risk management in bilingual foreign-affairs texts, by Hu Bei and Anthony Pym

Abstract: Constructive ambiguity occurs when a text is construed in different ways by different people and those people nevertheless agree on the text. Its use in foreign affairs can enable major issues to remain unresolved over long periods. One instance is the series of “One China” communiqués in which the United States and the People’s Republic of China have appeared to agree on the sovereignty of Taiwan. An important feature of this particular ambiguity is constituted by the two Chinese-language versions of the verb “acknowledge,” which effectively allow the interpretation that the US agrees with Beijing’s position. This shift can be analyzed linguistically in terms of the hypothetical non-translatability of performatives. It can also be approached politically in terms of a classical prediction delivered to King Croesus, whose hubris and subsequent failure to perceive the oracle’s ambiguity led to his downfall. A third analysis, in terms of risk management, suggests that the ambiguity is likely to be maintained by both sides, despite the different language versions, for as long as trade remains mutually beneficial. This study demonstrates how risk management can provide a more powerful explanation of constructive ambiguity than do narrowly linguistic or political analyses.


Toward standardization: the English translation of Chinese terms related to calligraphic scripts, by Ge Song

Abstract: Calligraphy is revered as embodying the cultural and aesthetic values of traditional China and holds first place among Chinese arts. This article explores how certain translations began to appear, circulate and be accepted over the past decades. It is noticed that “repeated use” and de facto “popularity” of certain translations can be determining factors in evaluating the adequacy of the translation. By prioritizing the effect of cross-cultural understanding, this study does justice to some of the existing translations that have been constantly doubted by previous scholars. The existing translations in question, as new “signifies”, have been re-contextualized and thus they gain increasingly more cultural meanings of the “signifieds”.


Translated Qurʾān euphemisms: foreignised or domesticated?, by Mohammed Albarakati

Abstract: This paper analyses four different translations of the Qurʾān and probes the techniques used for translating sex-related Qurʾānic euphemism. The main question of the paper is to what extent Qurʾān translations are domesticated or foreignised with regard to translating euphemisms. The theoretical framework employed a combination of both Venuti’s translation approach and Vinay and Darbelnet’s translation techniques; the results show that both literal translation and modulation are pervasively used in the assessed four translations and that both domesticated and foreignised translations are capable of delivering euphemistic translations.


The Beijing institute of Russian language and translation of Russian literature in 20th century China, by Kateryna Bugayevska

Absract: This article introduces the key stages and major figures in the historical development of the Beijing Institute of Russian Language (1899–1935), a leading school offering Russian language education in China at the end of the Qing Dynasty and during the Republican era. The institute attracted several notable Russian sinologists and brought up Chinese translators, who became the leading agents of Russian literary thought in China. Current work discusses the contribution that the school’s lecturers made in the field of intellectual and literary exchange between China and Russia while teaching in the Beijing Institute of Russian Language. It evaluates the translation activities carried out by the graduates, predominantly Geng Jizhi, Qu Qiubai, and Wei Suyuan, reflecting the changing priorities of Chinese literary thought from the beginning of the May 4th movement to the late 1930s.


The English translations of relic descriptions in Chinese museums: a comparative case study of jade descriptions, by Tingting Zhou

Abstract: Many relic descriptions in Chinese museums have been translated into English to meet readers’ needs, yet a review of studies on those translations reveals a lack of considerations from the perspective of readers. Drawing on Reiss and Vermeer’s concept of translation as a second offer of information, the present study attempts to answer: (1) how the English translations of descriptions in Chinese museums are different from their comparable texts in English-speaking world; (2) how potential readers feel about those translations of Chinese relic descriptions and what kinds of translations they expect to read. The present author compared the English translations (TTs) of 15 jade descriptions in the Nanjing Museum and the Shanghai Museum with their comparable texts (CTs) in the British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to illustrate the differences between the TTs and the CTs. A comparative reading of the TTs and their source texts (STs) was conducted to find out which of the two: the STs or the translators, should be responsible for the differences. An online questionnaire was designed to solicit TT readers’ opinions on the English translations for jade descriptions and readers’ expectations for future translations.


The interlingual translation between premodern China and Japan: Bai Juyi’s poetry and Murasaki Shikibu’s The Tale of Genji, by Jindan Ni

Abstract: Murasaki Shikibu (c. 973 or 978 – c. 1014 or 1031) was a Japanese court lady, who wrote The Tale of Genji about a millennium ago. Her Genji is the most popular and widely read fictional narrative in the Japanese literary canon. Genji has been revered as expressing the aesthetics and identity of Japanese. Bai Juyi (772–846), one of the most admired poets from China’s Tang Dynasty (618–907), left numerous verses and influenced East Asian Literature. This paper intends to explore Murasaki Shikibu’s dialogic engagement with Bai Juyi to show a journey of literary translation and creation. It is argued that Murasaki Shikibu transforms the senses or the essence of Bai’s poetry into a poetic realm for her prose. The author argues that the interlingual translating practice of Murasaki Shikibu is not simply a matter of borrowing from literary sources; it is a rewriting that goes beyond indigenous aesthetics and then expands the possibilities for literary creation. This approach will also enable researchers of translation studies to trace tangible evidence of influence as a thread that connects traditional Japanese and Chinese literary studies with contemporary translation theories.