Author: Wang, Yunhong
Title: A study of three English translations of Shuihu Zhuan
Advisors: Chu, Chi-yu (CBS)
Li, Dechao (CBS)
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2016
Subject: Chinese language -- Translating into English.
Chinese fiction -- Translations.
Translating and interpreting.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Department of Chinese and Bilingual Studies
Pages: xii, 454 pages : color illustrations
Language: English
Abstract: The dissertation is a descriptive study of three English translations of Shuihu Zhuan All Men Are Brothers by Pearl S. Buck, Outlaws of the Marsh by Sidney Shapiro and The Marshes of Mount Liang by John and Alex Dent-Young. It largely follows Toury's descriptive-explanatory framework in the paradigm of descriptive translation studies as well as incorporates other theoretical findings from sociological andnarratological perspectives. The three target texts in this study are believed to be full translations of Shuihu Zhuan. However, they are based on different editions of source texts, a fact that makes them rather different from each other in terms of their general plots of the story and linguistic presentations. This necessitates a discussion of the reception status and a mapping of each target text on an appropriate source text. The mapping result shows that Jin Shengtan's edition is best suited as a parallel source text against which the three target texts are compared. A corpus of seventy chapters is thus established for further textual description. In the descriptive part, a narratological perspective is adopted to examine how the three translations distinguish themselves from one another in respects of narrative voice, commentary, point of view and motif. It is found that there are big differences between them regarding the narrative features mentioned above. Pearl S. Buck transplanted the overt story-telling mode of narration from the source system to the target text, even making it more explicit than in the original novel. She was also well aware of the feature of point of view in Shuihu Zhuan. Her translation retains or even highlights the technique of character's point of view to an important extent which was applied in Shuihu Zhuan. The wide use of character's point of view comes to prominence in this target text as a conspicuous narrative feature. Pearl S. Buck not only well retained the narrative mode of the source text in translation but also most faithfully presented the three narrated motifs yi, jianghu, and cannibalism to the target readers. In contrast with Pearl S. Buck, Shapiro changed the original oral narrative mode to one that is written to be read in Outlaws of the Marsh, a style which is close to the literary tradition of the target system. In rendering commentary and point of view, he also slanted toward the comprehensibility and acceptability of the target readers, as manifested in its wide application of the reduction strategy in translating rhetorical questions, interpretations and judgments as well as in its transference of a majority of instances from character's point of view to omniscient point of view. Moreover, in the presentation of the three motifs yi, jianghu and cannibalism, Shapiro chose to replace them with similar motifs from the target system or simply deleted the relevant textual segments so that the story might be more accessible to the target readers.
The Dent-Youngs struck a compromise between the adequacy of the source text and the acceptability of the target text. Although they made efforts to reproduce an oral narrative style as the original novel does, they frequently applied some equivalent narrative techniques from the target system while retaining part of the narrative markers from the source text. They did not stick to a fixed pattern in addressing the wide range of commentaries in Shuihu Zhuan. Sometimes strategies of divergent directions are applied to render one and the same narrative characteristic in different contexts. On the story level, while they imparted the motif of yi with rich cultural connotations both from the source pole and the target pole, they kept the literal sense of the image motif jianghu from the very beginning of the story until the end. After a detail description of the differences in narrative features, the dissertation attempts to supply viable explanations for the distinction by relating to the social context each translation happens, its translator's skopos and personal habitus. Pearl S. Buck's translation was much constrained by the norms from the literary field of the early twentieth America which decided that translation was a means to innovate literary techniques and reorient social values. Her early years'life experience in China endowed her with a fascination with Chinese classical literature and an affection for China and Chinese people. Such a life trajectory may as well have fostered her sense of loyalty to the source text of Shuihu Zhuan. Shapiro's translation activities were nearly all sponsored by the patronages of the source system. His whole translating process of Shuihu Zhuan was inevitably manipulated by the dominant ideology of the source system ranging from the selection of the source text to the goal of the translation. The ideological constraints of the source system have overridden any other factors to determine the way Shapiro made decisions through the coordinating and controlling of various agents. The Dent-Youngs' translation took place in an intermediate space between the source system and the target system. Patronage is also a decisive governing force on this translation. However, rather different from Shapiro's situation, the Dent-Youngs' patronage places more academic considerations on the agenda than anything else. Therefore, their translation strategies are more governed by operational norms such as linguistic and stylistic constraints than extra-textual forces. The Dent-Youngs'purpose of translation also affects their strategy-making. They aimed to address a new audience of general readers so that they had to "find meaningful equivalents for many local terms and proverbial expressions" while retaining "some flavor of other times and customs" (Dent-Youngs, 2010:IX). This decides that their translation does not adhere to a fixed pattern but demonstrates conflicting tendencies in dealing with certain narrative categories. Finally, the dissertation summarizes some problems implied in the current study and provides certain suggestions for further exploration. Field work like questionnaire or interviewing among the target readers about their reception and understanding of each translation is lacking in the present study. Furthermore, in the descriptive part, there are still many other aspects related to the narrative mode of Shuihu Zhuan that should have been brought under observation but go beyond what a single study can do. Future studies can cover such parameters as speech and thought presentation, direct and indirect characterization and other culture-specific motifs that are liable to causing translation difficulties.
Rights: All rights reserved
Access: open access

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