Dissertation > Language, writing > FOREIGN > English > Translation

Moment in Peking and Its Chinese Translation

Author JiangHuiMin
Tutor WangHongYin
School Nankai University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Moment in Peking foreign language creation rootless backtranslation orientalism translation literature
CLC H315.9
Type PhD thesis
Year 2012
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Moment in Peking, an English novel written by Lin Yutang in1938during the anti-Japanese war, aims to spread and carry forward theChinese culture to the west. Though Lin Yutang lived overseas, as apatriotic Chinese man, he wanted to do what he could for theanti-Japanese War. Then he created this novel to publicize the war so asto get the international sympathy and support. Therefore, on the onehand, the novel introduces Chinese culture and folk-customs, such as thewedding and funeral ceremonies, Chinese banquets, Chinese traditionalmedicine and medical science, curios and paintings, poems and couplets,fortune-telling, how the Chinese seeking to the Tao to become immortal,food and drink culture, and life philosophy, etc. On the other hand, thenovel takes the Chinese history as the background which sets the story inthe late Qing Dynasty and early Republic of China until the break-out ofthe Sino-Japanese War, and involves many historical figures and events making the novel realistic. Therefore, judging from its content, the novelis of Chinese interest. What makes it unusual is the transplacement ofthe language and the cultural contents. Then, a new translation typeoccurs, and that is rootless back translation.Some Chinese translation scholars have already noticed such a kindof special writing and its Chinese translation as Lin Yutang’s Englishcreation, but generally their ideas are quite confusing and the conceptsthat they apply differ from one another. For example, they call such atranslation type “back translation”,“repetitive translation”,“culturalback translation”,“cultural restoration”, or “restoration translation”, etc.In fact, these translation concepts can not explain or cover this specialtranslation type, and a new one needs to be put forward, and that is“rootless back translation” put forward by Professor Wang Hongyin.Because of the particularity of Lin Yutang’s English writing and itsChinese translation, many problems need to be discussed and solved. Therefore, this dissertation attempts to take Lin Yutang’s Englishnovel----Moment in Peking and its three Chinese versions translated byZheng Tuo and Ying Yuanjie, Zhang Zhenyu, and Yu Fei as a case study,and discusses the characteristics of the original novel and analyzes thecultural reflection and restoration of the three Chinese versions, applyingsuch theories as narratology, rhetoric, stylistics, imagologie ofcomparative literature and intertextuality. Based on the text analysis,regular conclusions are found when the cultural contents returning to itsmother tongue in translating this novel whose language and culture areseparated, in the hope of bringing about some inspirations to translationtheory and translation criticism.The framework and main contents of this dissertation are asfollows:Chapter one is introduction. It includes the reason and significanceof choosing this subject and its historical review which covers the study of Lin Yutang both at home and abroad, focusing on the translation studyon Lin Yutang and his works especially on that of Moment in Peking.Chapter two is an introduction of Lin Yutang’s life experiences andhis works both in Chinese and English as well as the creation andtranslation of his English novel Moment in Peking. It mainly discussesLin Yutang’s position in literary history and the expressive force oflanguage of foreign language creation such as Moment in Peking.Chapter three applies narrotology, rhetoric and stylistics to graspthe macro structure and micro language features of Moment in Pekingand discuss their reflections in its Chinese versions. Both Chinese andwestern narratology are applied with the former being focused on.Rhetoric in the broad sense, which is not only confined to tropes andrhetoric techniques, is applied to discuss the rhetoric features of theoriginal and the translated texts. Stylistics is used in order to probe intoLin Yutang’s writing style and its translation restoration. In chapter four, imagologie of comparative literature andorientalism is applied to study the image of the Chinese, the Japaneseand Koreans, and the Westerners. Then it will discuss how the translatorsrestore these images in the Chinese versions and what reference factorsthat they should consult. The author often express his attitudes andrational comment through the images he creates which are placed in themutual relations of “self” and “other”,“native” and “alien”. Therefore,the Chinese images created by Lin Yutang are for the sake of introducingChinese culture but with a sense of “self-orientalism”.Chapter five is the study of intertextuality in Moment in Peking andits Chinese translation. It applies the theory of intertextuality in a narrowsense by Fairclough-----“manifest intertextuality” and “componentintertextuality”, and makes certain alteration. This chapter setsfoundation for the exploration of the theory “rootless back translation”through the discussion of intertextuality in the original novel and the translation strategies such as intensification, equalization and weakeningused in its Chinese versions.Chapter six explores the characteristics and overall effect of thethree Chinese versions of Moment in Peking, mainly applying suchresearch methods as text analysis and evaluation. It analyzes the featuresof each Chinese version, points out their deficiencies and explores thereasons. It also analyzes the common features of the three translationversions and makes an overall comment on their translation effect.Finally, on the basis of the discussion of literary translation andtranslation literature, it concludes that the three Chinese versions asliteray translation have the basic features of translation literature andshould be written in the Chinese literary translation history.Chapter seven explores the theory of “rootless back translation”, aspecial translation type brought about by foreign language creation. First,the definition of “rootless back translation” is given, with the distinction of other similar concepts such as “back translation”,“text restoration”,“false translation”. Then, it argues the universality of this theory,explores its application scope, reference factors, translation evaluation,and its final version. In addition, this chapter also discusses problemsand challenges brought to translation theory and criticism by “rootlessback translation”.Chapter eight includes the basic conclusions of this study,theoretical value of “rootless back translation”, deficiencies in this studyand future research in the hope of improvement in later study.Based on the study of Moment in Peking and its three Chineseversions, the main findings are as follows:1. Moment in Peking belongs to foreign language creation, a novelwith Chinese contents but foreign form combining Chinese and westernliterary features together to spread abroad. The success of the novelintensifies the problem of the expressive force of language for culture in foreign language creation. This dissertation considers that nativelanguage is the best way to express its national culture, but it can notdeny that foreign languages can also express that culture well.3. The author had chosen an ideal Chinese translator to translateMoment in Peking, and sent the notes he made about the characters,poems cited, and historical allusions etc. in the novel to the translator tohelp him have a better understanding. What’s more, the translator couldask for the author’s help once he has understanding difficulties.Therefore, a final Chinese version would be possible with thecooperation between the author and his ideal translator.4. In theory, the Chinese translation of Moment in Peking belongsto “rootless back translation”, which is to translate the subject ofChinese culture written in English back into Chinese. The Chinesetranslation should be based on the receptive psychology of the modernChinese readers, trying to present the Chinese literary form for them. Then, such a translation will be reflected by its position in the Chineseliterary translation history with positive and affirmative comment.5. It finds out from the research that “rootless back translation” isnot confined to the only case of Lin Yutang’s English creation. In fact,there are many other similar literary works in Chinese and the worldliterature. Therefore, the universality of this translation theory is out ofquestion. At the same time, this new translation theory will bring a seriesof related problems, such as its reference factors, translation evaluationand the final version, etc. all of which need to be explored. Thisdissertation makes an exploration on these problems.In a word, the study of Moment in Peking and its Chinesetranslation brings important findings with great theoretical value to nomatter literary creation or translation theory. Though the novel is aboutold affairs happened in old Peking, it brings a new translation type andgives implications to translation criticism. In this sense, it is a novel about old Peking but contains new ideas for the translation theory.

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