Beyond equivalence : an assessment of Lefevere’s cultural approach on Chinese-English literary translation
Loo, Zhen Hao
Date of Issue2016
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
In this essay, I will first show how the use of linguistics-based translation theories are ineffective in appraising a literary translation. I will begin by giving a brief overview of the intellectual climate that led to the formulation and subsequent rise of Eugene Nida’s theory of equivalent effect (with a focus on dynamic equivalence), which I argue is the quintessential linguistic-based translation theory that dominated the translation studies milieu from its inception in 1960s until around the 1980s. I will then go on to introduce the next theoretical framework which supersedes Nida’s theory of equivalent effect, namely the ‘cultural turn’ attitude introduced by André Lefevere and Susan Bassnett in their seminal text Constructing Cultures: Essays on Literary Translation. In particular I will analyse the ideas that Lefevere highlighted in his first essay in Cultures, “Chinese and Western Thinking on Translation”. Lastly, I will turn towards providing examples from the Chinese-English language pair. This will culminate in an application of Lefevere’s cultural approach onto a work literary translation – namely, 杀夫 / The Butcher’s Wife by Li Ang translated by Howard Goldblatt – as an example to delineate the suitability of the cultural approach on literary translations. By doing so, I will show how Nida’s theory is lacking in certain areas when applied specifically to the sub-discipline of literary translation, whilst Lefevere’s approach allows us to appraise literary translations in a different manner. The aim is to show how Lefevere’s approach fit more appropriately when appraising literary translation as compared to Nida’s theory of equivalent effect.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University