Dissertation > Language, writing > FOREIGN > English > Translation

A Comparative Study of Relevance Theory with Culture-Specific Lexicons in Shang Han Lun Based on English Versions

Author HuiJiaZuo
Tutor ZhangBin
School Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine
Course TCM English
Keywords Culture-specific Lexicons Relevance Theory Shang Han Lun TCM translation
CLC H315.9
Type Master's thesis
Year 2011
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"Treatise on Cold-induced Febrile and Miscellaneous Diseases (Shang Han Lun) is compiled by the "Saint of traditional Chinese medicine" Zhang Zhongjing (AD 150-219). Shang Han Lun is one of the four major classics of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It encompasses the medical achievements of the Eastern Han dynasty (AD 25-220) and the period prior to that. It is the first text in Chinese medical history to adopt the Six Channels as a basis for diagnosis and to explain the etiology and pathological development of externally contracted febrile disease. Shang Han Lun has survived in the passage of time and this ancient theory and its application to the clinics of disease is still regarded as having a great value in today’s disease-treatments.The text of Shang Han Lun in the Chinese Language introduces the culture and knowledge of TCM in plain and direct language.The original Chinese version also uses reduplicated words from the perspective of rhetoric, offering the syntactic structural characteristics of the ancient Chinese language. Hence, the words in this text reflected its distinctive language style 1000 years ago. The English version of Shang Han Lun chosen by this present paper showed the translator’s cognition to TCM as well as the good understanding to TCM culture. The present paper is intended to explore the application of relevance theoretical approach to the analysis of culture-loaded words in two Shang Han Lun.English versions.As a theory of language communication, Relevance Theory (RT) is an ostensive-inferential interpretation, which involves the tertiary dynamic relationship between the author, the translator and the reader of the translation. A translator should presume the reporter’s communicational act and search for optimal relevance that can be conveyed to the reader. On this basis, this paper addresses the cognitive accunt in term of RT in interpretation and understanding the proper translation of culture specific lexicons, with an effort to seek out a new perspective to the translation of TCM classics.Two English versions are applied in the present research subject:the first book "On Cold Damage Translation and Commentaries" is written by Wiseman in 1999; the second book "Shang Han Lun explained" by Greta Yang in 2009.The time span between two books is 10 years. Among two authors, as a prestigious translator in the TCM translation field, Wiseman’s TCM translation books are popular with TCM practitioners abroad. Greta Yang is a rising star of TCM Translation in recent years. She is grown up in Hong Kong, and teaches TCM Classics at RMIT University, Australia. She graduated from Bejing TCM University in Shang Han Lun. As a serious scholar of TCM, she hosts a collection of Shang Han Lun cases in her books based on predecessors’ theories and laid on experimental study foundation. Her book is becoming more and more influential aboard.This paper, combined with the relevance theory and TCM translation, employs its main concept such as" ostensive, inference and relevance", i.e. seeking optimal relevance anticipation in human communicative behaviors. By analyzing these two books, differences and similarities are concluded as follows:Similarities:1) both books apply multiple translation methods such as the literal-translating method (which includes word-for-word translation); Phonetic translation (translated as Pin yin), literal-translation plus commentary, phonetic translation plus commentary, direct commentary and translation using western medicine.2) both books try to explain terminology using TCM concepts from the existing TCM theories.3) Both books maintain consistency and possess TCM translation words in common 4) both books emphasize and value Chinese medicine and in TCM culture.Differences:1)Greta Yang employs a great number of phonetic translation(Pin Yin) and Pin yin plus commentaries; Wiseman on the other hand applies a great number of direct word for word translation and literal translation plus commentaries; 2) the Greta Yang’s translation is readable,concise and more correlated; Wiseman’s translation adheres too closely to the original text and exists one spotting mistranslations.3)Different translation purpose results in different diction choice.4) There exist different mapping conditions due to time span or space range.The Relevance Theory states that human communication conforms to the principle of relevance, by analyzing two English versions of Shang Han Lun, it is showed that an information reconstruction should be processed by means of cognition inferences. The application of RT in TCM translation avoids the disputation with regards the strategies and methods used by different translators. The results will be anticipated in help of Chinese medicine readers’knowledge of two versions as well as would-be different translation strategies based on RT. Hence, its value will lay foundations on rationality and accountability of Relevance Theory in the translation of culture-specilic lexicons in Shang Han Lun.

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