Author: Ma, Yuanyi
Title: A systemic functional perspective on Rabindranath Tagore's Stray Birds and its Chinese translations
Degree: DALS
Year: 2018
Subject: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Functionalism (Linguistics)
Systemic grammar
Translating and interpreting
Department: Faculty of Humanities
Pages: xiii, 325 pages : color illustrations
Language: English
Abstract: Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) is an appliable theory of linguistics where theory is designed to engage in constant dialogue with application. Within SFL, the field of multilingual and translation studies brings together various multilingual concerns that have been developed since the 1960s. Drawing on SFL, this thesis investigates Rabindranath Tagore's Stray Birds, the source text published in English and four Chinese target texts. The analytical framework includes the stratification of language into two planes, the content plane and the expression plane, and both have been taken into consideration. Four strata are involved in the analysis, including graphology, phonology, lexicogrammar and context. The lexicogrammatical analysis incorporates the analysis of theme and transitivity. After comparing the graphological, phonological and lexicogrammatical features of the source text and the target texts, I have then discusseed two kinds of metafunctional translation shift found in the lexicogrammatical analysis, i.e. shifts in the systems of THEME and PROCESS TYPE (cf. Matthiessen, 2001, 2014b). These shifts are further quantified and discussed in relation to their delicate categories. In this way, I have brought out the "trade-offs" in the translations, and explored the reasons that have lead to the shifts. After the lexicogrammatical analysis, the contexts of the source text and the four target texts are analyzed from the perspectives of the three contextual parameters, namely field, tenor, and mode. These contextual features are then related to the translation shifts found in the target texts. By seeing translation equivalence and translation shift as two poles of a cline and based on the analysis of metafunctional translation shifts, I have then located thet four target texts (TTs) on this continuum according to the degree of congruence between the source text (ST) and the four TTs. TT1 and TT3 are closer to the translation equivalence pole of the cline, while TT1 is the closest to the equivalence pole because it involves the smallest number of translation shifts. In contrast, TT2 and TT4 are closer to the translation shift pole, as both of these two TTs have relatively a larger number of translation shifts. Since TT2 has the largest number of translation shifts of all the TTs, it is located at the far end towards the translation shift pole.
The present thesis makes the following seven contributions: Firstly, this thesis provides a new perspective of viewing Stray Birds and its four Chinese translations. Since Stray Birds is a literary text given high value in the area of literary criticism, it is meaningful to carry out an analysis in terms of the different modes of meaning, and to determine what meaning-making resources are used by Rabindranath Tagore and the four translators. Secondly, this thesis presents a framework suitable for the systemic functional analysis of poems, providing a link between SFL and translation studies. The choices that are incorporated in the framework are carefully selected and covers different strata of language, including phonology, graphology, lexicogrammar and context. In this way, both the content plane of language and the expression plane are considered in the analysis. Thirdly, the graphological and phonological analysis takes various features of the text into consideration. According to the analysis, these features have played their parts in the translator's lexicogrammatical choices. Fourthly, the lexicogrammatical analysis has provided a quantitative profile of the choices of in the systems of THEME and PROCESS TYPE in the ST and the TTs, and will help us to investigate the probability of certain choices in the data. Fifthly, the contextual analysis has identified some differences between the ST and the TTs, and has helped to observe some patterns and tendencies regarding to the translation shifts in the TTs. Sixthly, this thesis further develops the framework for analysing metafunctional translation shifts first suggested in Matthiessen (2014b). Based on the lexicogrammatical analysis of THEME and PROCESS TYPE, two kinds of metafunctional translation shifts are elaborated, quantified and discussed, including theme shift and process type shift. Seventhly, the futility of searching for universals in translation studies is further illustrated and emphasized (cf. House, 2008).

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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/9887