Dissertation > Language, writing > FOREIGN > English > Translation

A Comparative Study of Three Chinese Versions of the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: From the Perspective of Functional Equivalence Theory

Author LiZuo
Tutor LiuBangLi
School Zhengzhou University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords functional equivalence children’s literature The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn translating for children
CLC H315.9
Type Master's thesis
Year 2008
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Before getting down to the problems in translating children’s literature, the definition and characteristics of children’s literature should be discussed. There are two levels of the understanding of children’s literature, i.e. firstly it is literary, and secondly it is for children. When translating children’s literature, translators should be an expert on both languages and be familiar with the characteristics of children’s literature, and furthermore, translators should always bear it in mind that it is for children, the target readers, whom they are translating for. The translation should assure its young target readers that the meaning and style of the source work should be easy to be understood and accepted, and the target readers should have approximately the same or similar response to the translated text as the source readers do to the source text, and thus the translation may function as the tool of instruction and amusement.Due to the particularity of the text and target readers of children’s literature, Functional Equivalence Theory is introduced to study the translation of children’s literature. Dr. Nida argues that "translating consists in reproducing in the receptor language the closest natural equivalent of the source-language message, first in terms of meaning and secondly in terms of style". Different from the traditional translation theory, Functional Equivalence Theory shifts from "the form of the message" to "the response of the receptor". Thus, the role of the receptor is promoted during translating. The theory also emphasizes "the closest natural equivalent" in translation. Besides, functional equivalence has different degrees. To be specific, in order to achieve functional equivalence, translators should never neglect the particularity of the original text and the target readers, reproduce the source message in the target language first in meaning and second in style, and deal with the culture-bound elements with proper methods.The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain enjoys great popularity among adults as well as children. The present study makes a comparison of three Chinese versions of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which is viewed as a children’s book, with the guidance of Functional Equivalence Theory. The versions are translated by Zhang Duosheng, Cheng Shi and Diao Keli. The limitations and advantages are evaluated and the methods to achieve functional equivalence are presented. At the end of the study, the conclusion is drawn that the three versions have achieved functional equivalence to different degrees. Zhang’s version is the least equivalent in meaning, style and culture. Cheng’s version achieves a higher degree of equivalence in culture according to the educational function of children’s literature, and the informative function of the source text is well reproduced. Cheng’s and Diao’s versions, being full of children’s delights (童趣) and of high literary aesthetic value, achieve the same degree of functional equivalence in meaning and style, being faithful to the original meaning and style, satisfying the demand of children’s undeveloped abilities of language, cognition and reading,. That is to say, their versions serve the informative, aesthetic, emotive, cognitive, interactional and expressive functions successfully as the original does. The overall structure of the thesis is as follows:Introduction states the background and significance of the study. Moreover, the research questions are also raised.Chapter One firstly reviews the definition and characteristics of children’s literature; and secondly it presents the translation practice and study of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.Chapter Two elaborates Nida’s Functional Equivalence Theory. The main content and understanding of the theory are stated. The functions of language are also introduced.Chapter Three examines the three Chinese versions from the perspective of meaning equivalence. The comparison is further divided into two parts according to Nida’s concept of translating meaning, i.e. lexical content and rhetorical significance.Chapter Four evaluates the three Chinese versions on the level of style equivalence. This chapter falls into five parts in the light of the original style and the characteristics of children’s literature, including translating colloquial language, reproducing personalized language, humor and satire, equivalence in sound, and translating italics. Chapter Five compares the three Chinese versions from the angle of culture equivalence. The comparison is composed in terms of Nida’s classification of culture elements, i.e. religious, social, material, and linguistic. The methods to deal with culture-specific elements are summarized after the comparison.Conclusion is made based on the major findings, and limitations as well as suggestions for further study are presented.The last part presents the works cited.

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