Academic journal article International Journal of English Linguistics

Translator's Gender and Language Features of the Tao Te Ching English Translations: A Next Step into the Translation from Individuation Perspective in Systemic Functional Linguistics

Academic journal article International Journal of English Linguistics

Translator's Gender and Language Features of the Tao Te Ching English Translations: A Next Step into the Translation from Individuation Perspective in Systemic Functional Linguistics

Article excerpt

Abstract

Systemic functional approaches to translation studies have focused on the parameters of translation equivalence and shift within the hierarchy of realisation. However, translations from the perspective of individuation focus on language users, i.e., the author, translator and reader, involving ideological issues, showing tendentiously the genre, register and free options in a language in accordance with individual factors such as class, gender, age, race etc. to the language user. The present paper looks into one of the most significant individual factors-gender of the translator-in the English translations and re-translations of the Tao Te Ching as a next step into the model of individuation translation by using both qualitative and quantitative methods. The result shows that women translators' re-individuations are more spoken, while men's are more written in style, reflecting in three aspect: the choice of words, the choice of syntactic patterns and the choice of mood.

Keywords: Individuation, translation, the Tao Te Ching, gender, SFL

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1. Introduction

Tao Te Ching, as the most frequently translated Chinese classic only next to the Bible, has obtained a widespread and diversified Western audience, appealing to readers on a variety of levels. There are over 130 English translations and re-translations of the Tao Te Ching (Xin, 2008, p. 17), which are classified according to time into three intensified translation periods: The first period (1868-1905), the second period (1934-1963), and the third period (1972-2004). In the late1960s, Women's Liberation Movement resulted in a more gender-emphasized society, where "social gender" was unprecedentedly focused on. The first woman involved English translation of the Tao Te Ching was published in 1972 by Gia-fu Feng & Jane English, after which there were several versions translated by women translators on their own, for example, Ellen Marie Chen (1989), Ursula K. Le Guin (1997), Lee Sun Chen Org (2000) and Chao-Hsiu Chen (2004). The present paper will explore whether translators' gender will affect their choices of language in translations by using the hierarchy of individuation in systemic functional linguistics.

2. Translation from the Perspective of Individuation in SFL

Individuation is a relatively new concept in SFL, proposed first by Matthiessen (2003), borrowing the term from Bernstein (2000, p. 158) in his studies of language education, and then extended by Martin (2006, 2008a, 2008b, 2009). This theoretical parameter has taken on an identity perspective revealed by ideology, especially involving the issue how individuals employ language resources in culture. Halliday, in 1964, has elaborated language user and language use by locating them in two different levels, and distinguished dialectal, registerial and codal. Matthiessen (2007, p. 539) followed Halliday's (1964) view, considering coding orientation, or codal variation as affiliating to the cline of instantiation, located between dialectic variation and registerial variation, and merged individual with instance, regarding repertoire as the set of "register" extracted by individual "meaner" from the meaning potential of speech fellowship (i.e., reservoir). In comparison, Martin (2006, p. 276) views individuation as the relationship between system and individual, which is an independent complimentary hierarchy alongside realisation and instantiation, treating the three (i.e., realisation, instantiation and individuation) hierarchical relations as the theoretical resources of language research (Martin & Wang, 2008). Martin (1992, p. 495) associated coding orientation with ideology, and located it between reservoir and repertoire. Inherited from Bernstein's (2000) point of view, Martin illustrated that individuation has to do with the relationship between the reservoir of meanings in a culture and the repertoire a given individual can mobilize. …

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