Academic journal article Studies in Literature and Language

Translation Strategies under Intercultural Context

Academic journal article Studies in Literature and Language

Translation Strategies under Intercultural Context

Article excerpt


Different cultural heritages and semiotic systems lead to differences in speech act and pragmatic uses of language among people with different cultural backgrounds, hence intercultural communication takes place. Cultural dimension of translation has been given ever emphasis in the era of globalization. Translation is generally considered as the significant channel of intercultural communication. Since translation is the most comprehensive cultural manifestation of human being, the study of translation and translation strategies shall be placed under intercultural contexts.

Key words: Translation strategies; Intercultural communication; Domestication; Foreignization; Reception theory


Pragmatic errors frequently appear in communication among people with different cultural backgrounds and thus people fail to achieve desired objectives. Similarly, cultural untranslatability has long been the greatest obstacle to communication and translation. Translation study could never underestimate cultural differences; on the contrary, it has to take it into serious consideration and analyze the causes of such distinctions in depth to find the optimum strategies in overcoming such obstacles.


There are numerous causes of cultural differences. To begin with, communicative behaviors are inevitably connected with people's values. Every culture has its specific system of value, which helps to distinguish good from bad, right from wrong, Dos from Don'ts, and thus forms a system of moral standards and behavior norms. Although the standards differ among cultures, their existence is reasonable in their own cultural system, and therefore it is incorrect to say some cultural system is more advanced or backward than some other one. Take Chinese culture for example, values as being modest and prudent, not being assertive or aggressive, being satisfied with what things are and collectivism are much preferred in Chinese culture. As the old saying goes, if one behaves better than the others, everyone else will discredit him. In contrast, western culture is more of individual standard, and individualism is greatly advocated. Consequently, always being satisfied with what things are equals to a lack of entrepreneurial spirit and being incompetent in western culture.

Secondly, religious culture penetrated in people's lives also has significant influence on people's thought and action. Traditional religious cultures can be reflected through the differences in worships and taboos among people with different beliefs. In China, Confucianism being the most influencing religion, along with Taoism and Buddhism has been exerting an extensive and far-reaching influence among Chinese generation after generation. While in English-speaking countries, the Judeo-Christian and the Western Philosophy compose the most part of traditional religious culture. Different religious cultures result in the distinctive viewpoints among people, and it is quite obvious that the oriental and occidental modes of thinking are quite different. In the process of cognition, for example, Chinese pay more attention to their experiences, senses and intuitions, thus their mode of thinking is generally ambiguous and they relay on their experiences and senses to judge others. However, westerners consider more about logic and analysis and thus are more concrete in thinking. The modes of thinking formed by different cultures will directly affect and may cause failure in the process of intercultural communication.

Besides, Chinese thinking is predominantly more holistic. Holistic thinking people are interested in the full understanding of the unity of the world and emphasize the inseparable unity of human and nature, individual and group. They view the world as having many units organically interrelated to one another and forming a whole. This is exemplified in Chinese traditional medicine. The principle of Chinese medicine is that the human body is an organic whole whose balance needs to be maintained. …

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