Academic journal article International Journal of English Linguistics

A Contrastive Study on Translations of Li Qingzhao's Ru Meng Ling: From the Perspective of Subjectivity and Subjectification

Academic journal article International Journal of English Linguistics

A Contrastive Study on Translations of Li Qingzhao's Ru Meng Ling: From the Perspective of Subjectivity and Subjectification

Article excerpt

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1. Introduction

As a literary genre in ancient Chinese literature, poetry enjoys a long history and has always been favored by numerous literati. But it was not until Song Dynasty that Tz'u poetry flourished unprecedentedly. Such a heyday of Tz'u poetry is ushered in by many outstanding Tz'u poets including Su Shi, Ou'yang Xiu, Lu You, Xin Qiji, Liu Yong, Yan Shu, Li Qingzhao, etc. Among them, Li Qingzhao is undoubtedly in the spotlight not only because of her brilliant literary talent but also her status as of one the few remarkable female literati in Song Dynasty and even throughout the history of ancient China. Her Tz'u poetry, which is marked by graceful and restrained style, in the first period mainly expresses the life of maiden who is longing for sweet love, or married woman who is waiting the return of her husband, and in the second period mainly laments the miserable life of herself and the chaotic country.

Ru Meng Ling (Tune: Like A Dream), one of the representative masterpieces by Li Qingzhao, was written in her early age. This piece of Tz'u has received extensive attention from litterateurs, researchers on Li Qingzhao's Tz'u, and translators, etc. This paper is mainly concerned with its various versions of translation. Thirteen English translations of it have been collected, and will be contrasted. It should be noted that the contrast among the thirteen English versions of Ru Meng Ling is primarily conducted from the dimension of meaning, without the consideration of the formal and prosodic aspects of the Tz'u.

It is beyond any doubt that meaning has long been the essential concern of philosophers, linguists, etc. One of the primary tasks of translation is to convey meaning, that is, to express in the target language, in an exact manner, what has been encoded in the source language. According to Cognitive Linguistics, meaning cannot be simply reduced to the objective characterization of a situation described as has been claimed by the objectivist formal logic view. Instead, meaning construction is conceptualization (Evans & Green, 2006), in the sense that it conveys how a conceptualizer chooses to construe a given situation and portray it for expressive purposes. That is to say, subjectivity constitutes an indispensable aspect of meaning.

The importance of subjectivity in language was recognized as early as in Bréal's ([1900] 1964) writings. But it is only the last two or three decades that have seen a resurgence of interest, mainly in the cognitive-functional tradition. Of particular importance in this respect is Benveniste who pointed out that "language is so strongly marked by subjectivity that one might wonder whether it could still function as, or be called, language if it was organized differently" (qtd. from Davidse, Vandelanotte, & Cuyckens, 2010). The importance of subjectivity was further underscored by Lyons (1977, 1982), and was subsequently given increasing attention in the cognitive-functional literature, with hallmark publications such as Traugott (1989), Stein and Wright (1995) and Langacker (1990). Recent publications testifying to the importance of subjectivity in linguistics include Nuyts (2001), Shen (2001), Traugott and Dasher (2002), Langacker (1999, 2002, 2006), Verhagen (2005), Athanasiadou, Canakis and Cornillie (2006), De Smet and Verstraete (2006), Wen and Wu (2007), Wang (2008), etc.

This paper examines what subjectivity of the Tz'u poet Li Qingzhao has be manifested and how it is realized or subjectified in her Ru Meng Ling (Tune: Like A Dream). It will be divided into five chapters. The first chapter is a brief introduction of the Tz'u poet Li Qingzhao and her Ru Meng Ling (Tune: Like A Dream), and related research on subjectivity and subjectification. The second chapter tries to lay a theoretical framework. Chapters three and four, which is the main part of this paper, are respective devoted to the analysis of subjectivity and subjectification in Ru Meng Ling (Tune: Like A Dream) and the contrast of thirteen English translated versions. …

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