Academic journal article Studies in Literature and Language

Treatment of Cultural Differences in Translation

Academic journal article Studies in Literature and Language

Treatment of Cultural Differences in Translation

Article excerpt

Abstract

With more and more frequent interaction between China and the West, translation plays an extremely important role in communication. Translation is no longer viewed as simple linguistic transference between two languages; cultural factors should be taken into consideration in translation process. This paper tries to analyze how the cultural differences should be dealt with in translation process. Three concrete methods are proposed to deal with different kinds of cultural factors: literal translation with cultural explanation, loan translation, and faithful translation. It is the translator's responsibility to choose the best strategy to render cultural differences. This paper emphasizes that translation shoulders the responsibility of making the original culture intelligible to the target reader and enriching the target culture. Therefore, when a translator is confronted with cultural factors, he/she must try his/her best to overcome the untranslatability caused by the incomparability between two cultures by choosing proper translation strategies. Only through this way, the translator could play the medium role in disseminating culture.

Key words: Cultural differences; Translation strategies; Cross-cultural communication

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INTRODUCTION

There is more and more frequent communication between different countries in recent years, so translation plays an important and necessary role in bridging the communication gap. Many scholars have accepted the view: translation is not simply a mechanic linguistic transference process, that is, rendering the meaning of a text from one language into another; instead, translation involves a complex cross-cultural communication process. Therefore, translation pays much attention to the equivalence in different cultural contexts and expects to find such equivalence.

Since the 1980s, with the "cultural turn" appearing in translation field, the cultural study and the culture criticism begin to appear. Many scholars started to look into translation from a wider cross-cultural viewpoint. They think that culture helps to deepen the current understanding of translation and a more comprehensive conclusion can thus be reached. Some translators, like Susan Bassnett and Andre Lefevere (2002), claim that: the study of translation has taken "cultural shift" (p.1). WANG Zuoliang, a prestigious Chinese translation scholar, once wrote: "In the domain of translation, the cultural difference is the most difficult field to analyze" (1989, p.13). Generally speaking, translation is not simply a mechanic linguistic transference between two languages, but a pattern of cultural shift. Based on the reasons mentioned above, the paper is devoted to a discussion of cultural differences in translation.

1. TRANSLATION: A CROSS-CULTURAL COMMUNICATION

To be a good translator, we must have to understand the relationship between culture and translation. Firstly, let us have a good look at the two concepts of "culture" and "translation". Only in this way, we can achieve the goal of successful cross-cultural communication.

1.1 Concept of Culture

As is well-known, each people in the world has it own specific national psychology and deep historical accumulation. None of us could be separated from the psychological genetic genes that are unique to our own nation. We are born with these genetic genes, which determine our thinking mode and behavior and so on. Eugene Nida (2005), an American translator and researcher once said that: "for truly successful translating, familiar with the two cultures is even more important than to master two languages" (p.5). Based on this, the meaning of the word "culture" is especially important for the translator to understand. What is on earth the meaning of the word "culture"? The most aspect of culture includes traditional ideas, such as those of history, ethics, art, philosophy and politics and so on. …

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