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

Reception Theory and Translation Strategies

Author KangZuoZuo
Tutor YangNaRang
School Xi'an University of Electronic Science and Technology
Course Foreign Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
Keywords Reception Theory Translation Strategy Domestication Foreignization Culture Journey to the West
CLC I046
Type Master's thesis
Year 2008
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The translation of Chinese classic works is the necessary outcome of cultural exchange between Chinese and western cultures, and meanwhile, it is the major carrier of cultural exchange between Chinese and western cultures. Cultural discrepancies of different nations complicate the translation. Literary translation, as an important medium of cultural exchange activities, aims to convey the source-text culture, promote the cultural exchange and enrich the target-text language and so on. So to properly preserve the cultural elements in literary works is an important part of literary translation. In recent years, numerous translators and theorists have attached great importance to the translation of Chinese classic works.Domestication and foreignization as opposite translation strategies have long been the focus of discussion in world’s translation circles. Recently, a new debate on domestication and foreignization has been launched. Different from the earlier debates, the present one has shifted its focus from mere linguistic level to cultural and political levels. In many former translation theories, the author-centered theory and the text-centered theory occupied a definitely dominant position and did not consider the readers’reception, nor even did they consider that translators should choose various translation strategies according to the readers’reception during the translating process. In the 1960s, on the basis of readers’reception, reception theory found new entrance and solutions to translation studies.There is an inherent relationship among the three---reception theory, cultural factors and translation strategies. According to the reception theory, the translator should take the reader’s role and status especially readers’horizon into adequate consideration when he treats cultural elements in literary works. Because before they enter a text, as a matter of fact, readers bring their own worldview, cultural knowledge, social experience and certain aesthetic standards, namely,“horizon of expectations”. Oriented expectations and creative expectations justify both domestication and foreignization respectively. Meanwhile, theories of translation strategies of domestication and foreignization concern how to deal with cultural elements in the process of translating. The author adopts both reception theory and theories of translation strategies as the theoretical basis for the case study from the angle of treatment of cultural elements---a comparative analysis of translation strategies in the field of translating Chinese classics into English. After making a brief illustration of the feature of the theory, the paper mainly focuses on the close relationship between reception theory and translation and the central concepts that can be applied to the treatment of the cultural differences in translation practices. Then, with Hans Robert Jauss’s insightful concepts of reader’s role and status and the fusion of horizons between the readers and the translated works, the author probes into two strategies---domestication and foreignization which aim to deal with the cultural differences in literary works. From the perspective of relationship between reception theory and translation strategy, the thesis makes a comparative study of the application of domestication and foreignization by analyzing a great number of examples from the two English versions of Journey to the West translated by A. C. Yu and W. J. F. Jenner respectively.We can see the difference in translation strategy and attitudes toward target readers’horizon after the comparative analysis of the 10 culture-loaded lexemes in the two English versions. Domestication and foreignization are both adopted alternatively by each translator. But Yu’s degree of foreignization is greater due to his use of extra-textual explanation. Owing to his great effort, target readers have more chances to approach Chinese culture instead of being puzzled when facing so many exotic elements. From the perspective of reception theory, if both English versions’target readers are common English native speakers, and then we can see clearly that Jenner catered more for target readers’horizon and Yu catered more for the horizon of the original work.From the point of view of reception theory, employing concepts such as horizon of expectations, the fusion of horizons, the target readers, etc., this paper analyzes the two translation strategies on the basis of the case study of the two English versions of Journey to the West. The author puts forward some new thoughts. First, there is no translator who adopts only one of the strategies throughout his translating, however, one is dominant. Second, the choice of domestication or foreignization is not only influenced by the purpose of translation, the type of texts, the intention of the author and the readership, in essence, but closely connected to the translators’attitudes towards their readers’horizon and treatment of it in either catering for it to ease their burden in understanding foreign elements in a literary work or to expand it by introducing to them the foreign elements. Meanwhile, however, the translation should not always conform to the readers’oriented horizon. Very often the translator should challenge the readers’creative horizon in order to enrich the target language, literature and culture. Finally, due to the dynamic and creative characteristics of the readers themselves, the readers’horizon is changing and enriched with more encounters with foreign literary work. Therefore, a compensatory method that is used for the readers of a period may not be so necessary for the readers of a later time.

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