In an increasingly globalized world, forces of localization have the potential to shape a powerful paradigmatic shift in viewing the vital role of translation in the global context of cross-cultural communication. The emergence of globalized commodity culture is certainly assisted by translation, and dictates the ways in which translation is conducted. Globalization also raises the troubling possibility of cultural colonization as a consequence of cross-cultural encounters, thereby creating a homogenized world that threatens to destroy local cultures. It is therefore a question of primary importance to (re)establish cultural location and identity in response to globalization. Through translation, a universalized and universalizing cultural language reawakens and reinforces cultural identification. Translation activities are part of local realities in relation to the global world of transnational cultures. In this respect, indigenous or local knowledge is indispensable to successful cultural translation by means of negotiating an acceptable cultural discourse for the target system. Global economic integration has enabled China to play an increasingly prominent role in today's world, economic and political, though not quintessentially cultural--a major source of dissatisfaction for many Chinese intellectuals. China has enthusiastically--if also somewhat circumspectly--embraced economic globalization while viewing cultural globalization with suspicion and scepticism. Thus, while localized appropriation of globalized cultural information is well explored, more shared or universal references are making it possible for Chinese translations of foreign, especially western texts, to be less encumbered by cultural difference, which facilitates cultural translation as a dynamic process of cross-cultural exchange. More than ever before, cultural translation is characterized by mixture and hybridity; yet it is still fraught with sharp cultural and political tensions. Rapid globalization in China has inculcated an ethnocentric fear of cultural difference and symptoms of cultural alterity are very much in evidence. Issues of cultural difference and the translation strategies formulated accordingly are best examined in the cross-cultural context of glocalization.
I. Globalizing Trend and Translation
Globalization and localization are concurrent phenomena as twin forces representing two opposing perspectives on the world, and as a result, different cultures meet and clash because globalization brings diverse populations together in every aspect of communication and life. Translation contributes significantly to universalism and hence, globalization. Falling trade barriers between nations have led to falling linguistic and cultural barriers, which in turn further promotes globalization. And translation has created, consciously or unconsciously, a circular globalizing trend: global restructuring and colonial precedents bring potential implications to local identity and the perceived assault of globalization upon collective national spirit or personality has become a constant source of cultural anxiety. The rapid pace of globalization causes and increases local disorientation, and the displacement and realignment of the sovereign states are responsible for many local crises. Since globalization is at times perceived as predetermined and unchanging, it threatens to reduce and even erase local difference. Thus, local cultures struggle to redefine themselves, to reassert local identities within globalization, which also empower a reconstruction of a local sense of self, mediated by the global. Meanwhile, foreign or global influences are reinterpreted or internalized as part of localization practices.
It is important to stress that global unification leads to homogenization and local resistance. Diversification and heterogenization become increasingly desirable in order to reduce continuous political conflicts and cultural tensions. Developed and developing countries respond differently to globalization in different stages of historical development. According to George Ritzer, globalization is either embraced or opposed by nations according to "whether one gains or loses from it" (190). In commenting on Ritzer's ideas, Colin Sparks points out: "In this kind of theory, the process of globalization is one which destroys the local, at whatever level it is manifested, and replaces it by a single, standard, and usually US-inspired, society" (78). American-style cultural globalization produces a devastating homogenizing effect that makes it difficult or impossible for indigenous cultures to survive and ultimately threatens to reduce the entire world to a stultifying sameness.
Translation plays a key role in promoting both globalization and localization in that it calls for the recognition of the value of other cultures and the limits of local culture. Increasing global connectivity means that cultural protectionism is worthy of condemnation. Yet behind the global or the international is none other than the local. As it happens, "[t]hose who oppose globalization can continue to support the local as an alternative to the global" (Ritzer 199). And they fight globalization with localization as a counter-measure so as to neutralize it by making it less intrusive or contentious. The complex interaction of the global and the local means that there is rarely anything purely local, but rather, all is "glocal." New identities of shared attributes involving the local community emerge in an increasingly globalized world.
The homogenization of culture informed by the dominance of English around the world is at the root of the fear of globalization. Globalization has relentlessly eroded on local culture and its identity due to the widespread use of English. Significantly, the use of English by non-native speakers can glocalize it as in the case of Singaporean English with its local identity as a distinctive part of the language. Glocalization is also widely evident in local languages being translated into English. There is a good chance that "glocal Englishes" are created as a result, particularly if the target language is not the native language of the translator. Such local identities, as redefined within the conceptual framework of glocalization, are reinforced in many ways. Indicating the desire to reach out for the purpose of self-expansion, translation invites and introduces difference and in doing so, allows or forces "self" to interact with "other." Because it centres on adaptation and transformation localization is championed in response to what is perceived as colonizing and postcolonial foreign incursions. At a time when nation states, under the threat of sameness, are drifting into an abiding state of placelessness, and the interplay between deterritorialization and reterritorialization is powerful the current glocalization discourse gains importance. It is therefore crucial to investigate cultural and political tensions in the process of translation in the cross-cultural context of glocalization.
There is no doubt that localization influences conceptions of the world, and the result, as stated earlier, is a hybrid form of glocalization. But the real issue is how localization varies and changes in different times and places in relation to broader political, social, and cultural power. Localization inherent in translation is not just for the purpose of intelligibility and readability but also, more significantly, constitutes an act of transformation regarding both language and culture. In producing adaptation to another use, translation needs to take wider contextual import into consideration because it is dictated by events, circumstances, and above all, asymmetrical power relations. The temporality (as opposed to permanence) of any localization …