Translating identities : the shaping of identity through negotiating differences
Lim, Xin Hwei
Date of Issue2017-07-12
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
This paper looks at the translation of identities and its ability to shape an identity through the negotiation of cultural differences. The issue of translating across cultures in the field of translation is still very much on the topic of loss and distortion in meaning, linguistically and culturally. With the effects of globalisation right at our doorstep, a micro-cosmopolitan approach must be adopted. There must be a change in the perspective in looking at translation of cultural identities. The future is to see translation as a tool for constructive interaction of cultures to take place, while maintaining and enhancing diversity, allowing the possibility of new cultures and identities to emerge. The discussion is facilitated with five extracts from Singapore’s writer, You Jin’s latest work. The source text presents a strong Chinese identity and the translation is aimed at the English readers in Singapore with the intention to shape Singapore’s identity through the exposure and interaction with the Chinese culture. Through the understanding of the textual, vocal, authorial identity and readers’ sociocultural identity - the four types of identities in translation, this paper aims to show the challenges the translator faced when negotiating cultural differences, the factors and purpose that guided the translator in the praxis of translating identities, and the impact made in the shaping of Singapore’s identity. The translation of identities must be seen as a progressive and constructive act, resolving the possible conflicts from cultural hegemony with a respect for all cultures, and allowing identities to be shaped, changed or formed by embracing differences and diversity.