Dissertation > Literature > Literary Theory > Literary Creation > Literary Translation

A Systematic Study on Ying Ruocheng’s Drama Translation

Author RenXiaoZuo
Tutor FengQingHua
School Shanghai International Studies University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Drama translation Ying Ruocheng systems paradigm dramaturgical analysis stylistics of drama corpus-based translation studies
CLC I046
Type PhD thesis
Year 2009
Downloads 1654
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The beginning of the 21st century witnesses the prosperity of human civilization both in material and entertainment domain. Drama, as an art of elegance is more and more accessible to ordinary people with its specific beauty and humanistic power. Furthermore, the development of globalization promotes drama translation and reception all over the world, which in turn enhances drama translation studies though still the most problematic and neglected area of translation studies.The dilemma lies in that drama theorists take little care of translation and translators have little knowledge of dramaturgy, which has left drama translation studies being caught in a‘labyrinth’as Bassnett calls with the contradictions between translating for page and translating for stage, which, as the major obstacle in the development of drama translation studies induces more contradictionary views upon its central issues such as the nature of drama translation studies, performability, subtext, acculturation, audience’s reception and etc.. Take the two most influential drama translation theorists Bassnett and Pavis as an example. For one of the typical characteristics of drama--- gestic text or subtext, both of them believes that it needs excavating by actors or directors. According to Bassnett (1998:92), the translation of the secret gestic text requires the translators not only have to know both the languages and theatrical systems intimately, but also have to have experience of gestic readings and training as a performer or director in those two systems. Such expectations for translators make no sense and it is an impossible task for translators. After years of explorations in the“labyrinth”, she advocates at last that gestic text, as well as performability, acculturation, and etc., should be abandoned in drama translation studies, for they are all unreliable concepts. For drama translation, in her opinion, it should be reduced to a translation of a simple literary form. Pavis (1989:25), though admits all the time the close relationship between drama translation and its theatrical performance with the semiotic ideas in his drama translation studies, also claims that in order to conceptualize the act of theatre translation, we must consult the literary translator and the director and actor; we must incorporate their contribution and integrate the act of translation into the much broader translation (that is the mise en scéne) of a dramatic text. Here the intentions to separate theatrical factors from the translation of dramatic texts remains to be the crux of drama translation and its studies.Nikolarea (2002), with her years of translation practice and stuides, proves that the enduring polarization of performabiltiy and readability is a reductionist illusion. It is a reflection of the weakness of all prescriptive approaches in translation studies, or a fallacy as it may be called. Initially, therefore, there is the necessity to develop as clearly and precisely as possible the paradigm of drama translation studies. Meanwhile, quite a few scholars are also realizing that what sorely needed in drama translation is not the rejection or the emphasis of the concept of performability, but more empirical researches of the criteria that have made a play performable. The research taking Ying Ruocheng, an actor, director, translator and even politician as the study object, is an ambitious attempt to develop a theoretical platform for drama translation studies and make empirical and systematic studies on successful drama translations.Drama is a literary composition designed for theatrical presentation. Bearing features of dramatism and theatricality, a theatre text exists in a dialectical relationship with the performance of that text, and it is in this relationship that the paradox for drama translators and drama translation scholars lies. The constraints drama translators being faced with include not only the linguistic barriers but also different theatrical conventions. S/He has to accomplish the task of complexity by recreating typical characters and presenting the underlying theme as well as reserving the orality and getuality of dramatic lines for the conveniences of performers’acting and audience’s reception. The object of drama translation studies, thus, involves such a compounding system that some scholars as mentioned above wish to neglect those factors concerning theatrical performance, for they believe it is impossible for the translator to accomplish all these and it is the responsibilities of directors and actors to interpret those factors to audience.But preliminary studies of Ying Ruocheng’s drama translation theory and practice with his special identity------ a director, actor and translator confirm that drama translation as a system is an inseparable whole. The drama translator can and should take the responsibility to make the translated dramas both suitable for reading and performance. Accordingly, the research applies systems paradigm as the epistemological and methodological platform, being focused on a systematic study on Ying Ruocheng’s drama translation theory and practice with the considerations of his special identity: a director, actor and translator. It aims to investigate the features of Ying’s successful drama translation and obtain better understanding of the true nature of drama translation so as to explore a feasible way getting through the‘labyrinth’of drama translation studies. The systems ontology is based on the view that things in the world all exist as systems. A system is a dynamic whole and it is made up of interactive parts. It proposes to view systems in a holistic manner concerning an understanding of a system by examining the linkages and interactions between the elements that compose the entirety of the system. One of the significant characteristics of a system of this type is that there are properties of the whole that cannot be found in the elements, with other features such as integrity, openness and orderliness. Thus the only way to fully understand why a problem or element occurs and persists is to understand the part in relation to the whole. With the holistic view, it is confirmed that the nature of drama translation bears both features of dramatism and theatricality, as is illustrated by Ying’s drama translation ideas and strategies. The systems epistemology believes that cognition is jointly determined by both the subject and the object(s). The subjectivity is based on human’s adaptation to their environment, which is instructive for the proper position of subjectivity in translation in general and Ying’s drama translation studies as well. Thus, the environmental factors concerning Ying’s drama translation are investigated, including the Yings’cultural background and their influence upon Chinese modern culture, the social and cultural background of his drama translation and the expectations of the target audience. Through historical, sociological, cultural and daramaturgical approaches, drama translation theory and practice by Ying Ruocheng as a director, actor, translator and even politician are explored systematically. The study establishes the fact that Ying Ruocheng possesses the ideal qualifications of a drama translator able to adapt to the special requirements of successful drama translation, both for page and stage. The axiology of systems philosophy argues that the better the subject can adapt to the environment, the higher value the subject possesses, based on which, the receptions and impacts of Ying’s translated dramas in the target theatre and culture are tracked down to testify their value in the target culture. The methodology of systems philosophy makes it reasonable and feasible to combine descriptive and prescriptive, qualitative and quantitative, macro and micro, comparative and intertextual even intersystemic approaches.The construction of the platform of systems paradigm in drama translation studies brings forth the systematic studies of Ying Ruocheng’s drama translation theory and practice.Historical, cultural and dramaturgical analyses of the source texts are made initially. The background of Ying Ruocheng’s drama translation, especially the history of communications between western and Chinese drama, is trailed down. It is made clear that both the commonness and differences of the two traditions make the translation and reception of drama from the two sides possible and remarkable. Drama translation has played a significant role in the progress of the modern art of theatre, both in western world and in China. Then all the eight source texts of Ying’s drama translations are dramaturgically analyzed from the perspectives of ideology and cultural poetics, aiming at retrieving enough information of Ying’s inclination in cultural poetics and theme pattern. His choice of the source texts proves that Ying Ruocheng, as a theatrical artist and a drama translator as well as a politician is mainly concerned with the artistic level and the ideological level of the source drama, with the typical feature of the superb skill of language use. The fact that the great success of all his translated dramas in the target theatre apparently indicates that Ying has made right choices of source texts with his theatrician’s discriminatory eye and his sensitive insight to the aesthetic expectations of the target audience. It can be concluded in this part that the special identity of Ying Ruocheng as a director, actor, translator and cultural celebrity makes it possible for him to achieve a comprehensive understanding of the ideology and poetics of the source texts, which in turn brings about the right choices of the translated texts into the target culture in the right period of time and exert profound influence upon the target theatrical art. Above all, the external social, cultural and historical background explorations and the macro investigations of Ying’s eight source dramas present a solid base as the environment for the internal, micro and quatitative studies on his drama translation and demonstrate his discriminatory insight and his power in modern Chinese drama and culture.Ying Ruocheng’s drama translation theory is then induced from the Preface to The Series of Ying Ruocheng’s Drama Translation and The Biography of Ying Ruocheng, which collect quite a few articles of his reflections on drama translation by Ying Ruocheng and articles on Ying’s drama translation practice. Ying advocates a holistic view of drama translation, combining both dramatism and theatricality in drama translating. Firstly, bearing acting and directing of the translated dramas in mind, Ying gives special emphasis to orality and gestuality of dramatic lines in drama translation. He puts forward“live language”and“rhythmic language”to refer to orality, while asking drama translator’s attention to the commonly existing illocutionary acts of the dramatic discourses. Secondly, from the perspective of literary features of drama, Ying is well aware of the recreation of typical characters and the reservation of literary asthetic. Thirdly, for audience’s reception, Ying argues that drama translator, first and foremost should take care of the aesthetic expectations of the target audience; meanwhile, the translator is also responsible for introducing to them new and outstanding source cultural elements contained in the source dramas. The dialectic and holistic view of drama translation is well reflected in his drama translation practice.Micro analyses of Ying’s successfully received translated dramas are to testify his ideas of the nature of drama translation. The features of orality, gestuality and typical characters of his translated dramas are investigated by means of stylistic analysis of drama, using theories in pragmatics and discourse analysis as well as functional grammar. Parameters concerning the success of a drama translation are covered, such as speech act, word/sentence length, high frequency of vocabulary, discourse marker, turn-taking management, deixis, mood and modality. Text processing softwares such as Condordance 3.0, Concapp 4.0, TextPreprocessing and ICTCLAS are used in the corpus-based studies to obtain enough dada, both paralleled and comparative corpora being involved. Dramaturgical analysis is made for the tendency and regularity of Ying’s drama translation shown in the obtained data. Initially, orality in Ying’s translated drama is investigated from the perspectives of average word/sentence length and high frequency of vocabulary. Ying’s C/E translation of The Family and E/C translation of Death of a Salesman are chosen as case studies, for both of them have been proven to be successful in the target theatres. British National Corpus is introduced as a reference frame, while two original dramas are used as crossreferences. The data show that the average word/sentence length and the most frequently used vocabulary in Ying’s above two translated dramas are quite similar to the norms of the target language. Then our journey goes into another parameter---discourse markers. With the frequency list of interjections and discourse particles in British National Corpus as reference, we select two English versions of Teahouse------ Ying’s and Howard’s as the object of investigation. It is clear that not only the number but also the type of the discourse markers in Ying’s translated drama approaches the norm of the native language much more than that of Howard’s. As far as the specific use of discourse markers is concerned, an episode from Amadeus is extracted as a case study. For the same“well”, Ying takes the best advantage of the Chinese language to produce proper translations according to the personal relationship among the characters and the mood of the right character at the right time. The third parameter is turn-taking management. We focus on the two aspects of transition relevance place and turn construction in Ying’s translation. By analyzing some examples from The Family and Uncle Doggie’s Nirvana, we find that Ying’s most noticeable achievement is the skillful choice of the key word(s) in both turn construction and transition relevance place, ensuring the dramatic dialogues natural, smooth, vivid and impressive. The deictic system becomes the fourth parameter. Following the corpus-based statistics, which indicates rich use of deictic devices in Ying’s English translations of The Family and Teahouse, Uncle Doggie’s Nirvana and Amadeus are selected as the representatives of Ying’s C/E and E/C drama translations respectively. The analyses show that Ying is careful about the difference between English and Chinese in the use of deixis and generally takes flexible strategies such as addition and compensation in C/E translation and omission in E/C translation. In dealing with the specific use of deictic devices, he always makes proper choices according to the status of the character and the relationship among the characters. Furthermore, since the use of deixis is heavily dependent upon the context and the situation of the story, the study on the translation of stage directions, a special deictic system in drama, is undertaken, an episode from Ying’s translation of Major Barbara being an example. It is found that Ying, for the conveniences of directing and acting, transfers the internal and external actions in the stage directions in the simple and clear way conforming to the norms of stage directions. Performatives is the fifth parameter. Searl’s division of illocutionary act: assertives, directives, commissives, expressives and declaratives is applied in the inquiry into the relative performances of Ying Ruocheng and Howard in their Teahouse translations. By the contrastive studies of the two versions in the above five aspects, it is once again proved that Ying’s translation is more performable with his better presentations of the illocutionary acts in the dramatic dialogues, which is helpful to push on the development of the the story by creatng typical characters through their peculiar speech acts and guarantee the performability of the translated dramas on the stage. Then mood and modality is taken as the sixth parameter, through which the typical personalities of the characters in Ying’s translated dramas are detected, because from the perspectives of holistic view, the personalities of a role in a play are shown in his or her interactions with other roles. The“Caine”Mutiny Court-Martial is taken as a typical example in this part. We choose the most brilliant part of the court trial------ Defense (Act II) as the case. Based on the corpus statistics, the contrastive personalities of the two major characters---Maryk and Queeg are probed into from the functional linguistic perspective.With the theoretical framework of tenor and interpersonal metafunction, the specific lexis in the two characters’discourses are analysed, such as the properly used punctuate marks: question mark and exclamation mark as well as personal pronouns, Chinese idioms, slangs and etc, which demonstrates impressively the personalities of the two major roles and promotes the performability of the translated drama.Ying’s drama translation strategies are also analysed in a broad way. First, on the basis of the investigations of the audience of Ying’s translated dramas, we try to approach the acculturation and reception of his translated drama with Jauss and Iser’s views of horizon of expectation and response-inviting structure as theoretical framework. We find that in order to meet target audience’s aesthetic expectations, Ying adopts domestication strategy mainly, such as the intended deletions of some parts of plot, thoughtful adoptions of certain local dialects and style of Chinese traditional drama in Yuan ang Ming Dynasty and etc.. Meanwhile, Ying has taken some foreignization strategies, such as the reservations of the sentence structures, cultural specific images to meet the aesthetic requirements of directors from the source cultures as well as the introductions of something new into the target culture.One typical factor concerning drama translators is the sound effect of the translated dramas. Based on the comparisons of the resources of rhyme and rhythm between English and Chinese, Ying Ruocheng’s translation of poetic lines in Shakespear’s Measure for Mearsure is taken as a case study. Ying’s unique use of the style of rhyme and rhythm in Chinese traditional opera during Yuan and Ming Dynasty is impressive concerning its correspondence with the original in the humorous, narrative, simple and rhythmic style and hence the reception of the translated dramas in the target theatre. The rhythm of drama is specifically analysed concerning its characteristics of theatricality. In addition to the short sentences used in order to match words with actions, the deictic system, personal relationship, thematic progression and coherence between dramatic dialogues all contribute to ideal rhythmic effect of the translated dramas.Other two typical aesthetic elements in drama translations are situation of drama and image of drama. Since stage directions are the major carrier of situation, our investigations cover the stage directions from the opening to the ending of Ying’s translated dramas. We select Death of a Salesman as a case study, using Yao Ke’s version as the object of contrastive studies. First, the opening and ending stage directions are analysed. The relative stage directions from the original The family, Uncle Doggie’s Nirvana and Thunderstorm are taken as reference. The systematic analyses indicate that Ying’s style of stage direction translation is closer to the norm of the style of the stage directions in the target language. Second, we select a part from the first act in Death of a Salesman, finding that generally speaking, Ying’s translations of stage directions for characters’physical and mental actions are more distinct and explicit, easier to follow, for Ying, with his thorough understanding of the personalities of the charaters and the context of certain directions, makes proper and flexible use of the target language to accomplish the directive function of stage directions; while Yao’s style of stage direction translation shows more literary aesthetic. As to dramaturgical image translation, we set up a comparative corpus of Chinese translations of Shakespear’s Mearsure for Measure by Ying Ruocheng, Zhu Shenghao and Liang Shiqiu. To make the study more operative, the images contained in lines are classified according to their sources and their translation strategies being marked. With ICTCLAS and Concordance 3.0, the statistical data are obtained. It is clear that all the three versions try to reserve the images in the source language as many as possible, accounting for two-thirds of the total number of the images used. The typical characteristics of Ying’s translation is the large number of recreated images and borrowed images from the target language, which, with those images, makes his translation rich in vivid images and impressive among audience. In addition, Ying’s specific translations of images are discussed too. It is proved again that in translating images, Ying takes care of not only the images themselves, but also the interrelationships of the relative images as well as the performable features of orality and rhythm of the discourses that contain the relative images.Above all, in the systematic studies of Ying Ruocheng’s translated dramas, we can safely come up with a conclusion that Ying’s successful drama translations are due to his systems thinking of drama translation. Whatever strategies he takes, whether the macro choice of the Chinese traditional opera’s style of the poetic lines, or the specific use of discourse markers, he always bears in mind the true nature of drama--- dramatism and theatricality and takes care of the conveniences of directors, actors and audience, because Ying is heavily influenced by his understanding of the art of drama and his practice as an actor and director. According to him, the first important task of drama translation is to reach a performable drama text, during which orality, gestuality and typical character are of vital importance. Meanwhile, the reception and expectations of the audience in the target culture is also a key factor to determine the choice of certain translation strategies, with the selection of a certain dialect in the target language and culture as a typical example.Finally, the cultural value and influence of Ying Ruocheng and his drama translations are investigated in the following aspects: his international reputation as a director and actor and translator, his introduction of the western dramaturgical mode and ideas to Chinese audience, his influence upon his colleagues in Beijing People’s Art Theatre and artists in theatrical circles, his ambition to promote Chinese modern drama, language and culture. The systematic studies on Ying Ruocheng’s drama translation theory and practice prove that: (1) Systems paradigm is a scientific and feasible epistemological and methodological platform for drama translation theory and practice. The complexity of drama translation needs a holistic view of the nature of drama, which combines both dramatism and theatricality as a whole, evolving the systems theory of drama translation. (2) Since drama translation concerns not only the two language systems, but also the two theatrical conventions, the translating of a drama, from the macro choice of a local dialect to the special use of an interjection, should be undertaken in a systematic way. That is every choice is made with theatrical performance as reference and the interrelationship among the concerned elements being born in mind in order to obtain the ultimate goal of drama translation’s successful performance by actors and its popularity among the audience in the target theatre. (3) As most dramatists and playwrights are more or less related with theatre performance, Ying Ruocheng, a translator on the stage, sets a good example for drama translators to equip themselves with enough knowledge and experience of theatre performance so as to excavate the factors that make the drama performable and skillfully present them in the translated drama, which guarantees the realization of drama translators’subjectivity. (4) As a high standard genre, drama plays a significant role in the development of human civilization. In the same way, drama translation with the translators’appropriate choice of original dramatic texts and his (her) successful theatre translation may exert a shaping force in the target drama system and culture at a cetain moment of history. Under the context of globalization, drama translation, with its peculiarities, may be more powerful in promoting harmonious dialogues and better understanding among different cultures and peoples.The study is of significance to drama translation studies in the following four aspects worthy of people’s special attention:(1) Drama translation is a complex system, which involves knowledge in literature, linguistics, dramaturgy, translation studies, cultural studies, aesthetics and so on. Systems paradigm supplies a feasible epistemological and methodological platform for drama translation studies. (2) Ying Ruocheng, a Chinese eminent director, actor, translator and even a cultural celebrity is chosen to be the study object. With rich experience of theatrical performance, his ideal identity of“a drama translator on the stage”makes the study on his drama translation theory and practice be of great significance in that it shows the typical characteristics of successful theatre translation, which is achieved with the holistic view of drama and its translation, striking a balance between dramatism and theatricality, the reception of the target audience and the introduction of those remarkable exotic aesthetic elements of theatrical art.(3) The macro investigations of the Yings’historical and cultural background, the ideology and cultural poetics of Ying’s source dramas and the influence of his translated dramas in the target culture contribute to the better understanding of Ying’s important role in the communication between the Western and Chinese theatrical art and even the construction of modern Chinese culture.(4) The corpora of Ying’s translated dramas are set up. With the guidance of systems methodology, various approaches are used in the micro analyses of the dramatic discourses in Ying’s translated dramas, such as corpus-based studies, stylistics of drama, dramaturgical analysis, contrastive and comparative studies between paralleled and comparative corpora. In addition to the vocabulary with cultural specific elements, the typical features of dramatic dialogues, such as discourse marker, deixis, turn-taking management, speech act, mood and modality, situation and image are inquired to seek the true nature of drama translation.Based on the investigations of the studies on Ying Ruocheng and his drama translation in recent years, it is found that the studies upon his acting and the studies upon his translating are merging into comprehensive study of him. This research is also an attempt to it. It is pointed out some areas need more thoughtful and professional researches. First, more corpora can be included in the study of Ying’s drama translation. Second, for the pragmatic analysis of Ying’s translated dramas, more issues can be covered such as locutionary acts, politeness, power and etc. In addition, for the researcher’s lack of knowledge and experience of theatrical performance, the dramaturgical analyses of Ying’s translated dramas need further studies to promote his significant role in the development of Chinese modern theatrical art. In a word, the openness of system and the complexity of drama translation require more efforts and attention in this field.

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