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Ideological Interference in Translation: Strategies of Translating Cultural References


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Abstract

Shih Chung-ling photoThis research investigates the differences in the strategies of translating cultural references in western novels before and after 2000 in Taiwan. The findings are used to explore the close relevance of strategic differences to ideological impacts as one of the variables that affect the translation result. A total of 200 cultural references, extracted from two sets of seven novels published before and after 2000 in Taiwan, are analyzed to demonstrate the strategic difference. The finding shows that the most frequently used strategy is adding notes before 2000 while it is substitution after 2000. Set within the ideological framework, the highest frequency of adding notes brings Taiwan's audience close to the foreign culture and boosts their cross-cultural difference through the reading of translated novels. This translation phenomenon contributes to the laissez-fair political-cultural policy of the Kuo-Ming-Tang-led government in Taiwan that is optimistic about the Taiwanese audience's acquisition of socio-cultural information of foreign countries. In contrast, the tendency of using substitution after 2000 has rendered translations neutralized and domesticated, bringing the Taiwanese audience close to their own culture. This domestication focus can be inferred as being affected by the prevailing ideology of cultural nationalism strongly recommended by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party in Taiwan. Since translation is an ideologically-constrained and socio-culturally-situated activity, this case study can be used to illustrate how different political-cultural policies implemented by different ruling parties during different times may produce an ideological impact, either consciously or subconsciously, on the translators and then affect their choice of specific strategies of translating cultural references during the translation process.

Keywords: cultural references, adding notes, substitution, ideological impact

I. Introduction

The prevalence of cultural concerns in modern translation studies leads to a consensus that translation per se is not a simple, natural fact of interlingual transfer. Rather, translation goes beyond the code-switching process, and involves a battle and/or a negotiation between source and target cultures. The choice of translation strategies is not purely a personal and random act. From the functionalist perspective, the selection of strategy is governed by the specific purpose and textual function of the translated text. From the polysystem perspective, the selection of strategy is decided by the status of the translated text in the entire literary system. From the cultural perspective, the selection of strategy relies on how some conflicts are mediated between source and target cultures. Furthermore, from the ideological perspective, the selection of strategy is affected by the translator's ideology constrained by authoritative bodies such as publishers, institutions, clients, and governments, either implicitly or explicitly, representing different ideological positions. Translation becomes the material manifestation of ideological operation that serves the benefits of the patrons. Peter Fawcett (1998) justifies this point by citing one example when the Japanese translator of Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses was assassinated and then other publishers refused to release the translation. Drawing on above statements, some variables, such as the purpose of the translation, the target language audience, the media of translation, the status of the translated text, the ideological impact and others, have affected the translator's choice of strategy during the translation process. Of these variables, ideological governance is the focus in this research that sets out to investigate the differences in the strategies of translating cultural references in Western novels before and after 2000 in Taiwan. The findings are used to explore the close relevance of strategic differences to ideological impacts as one of the variables that substantially affect the translation result.

Translators think and act under ideological norms in the receptor society.
Some scholars have discussed the interaction between ideology and translation from various aspects. In "On the role of ideology in translation practice," Yan Xiao-jang (2007) declares that ideology plays an important role in translation practice because ideology that serves to fulfill political purposes controls selection of texts to be translated, translation strategies, and the spreading of certain translated texts. Yan (2007) further claims that Yan Fu's translation of social science works aims to "awaken democratic and revolutionary consciousness of intellectuals through translation" in China during the late Qing and early Republican periods (p. 64). Another example raised by Yan (2007) is that "the translation of certain classics of Buddhist Scriptures [have] been forbidden in Tibet by Emperor Song Zhen-zong at the end of East Han Dynasty" because "some content [is] thought to be contrary to Confucianism's 'benevolence and forgiveness'" (p. 64). It is clear that political ideology governs the selection of texts for translation. In "Translation and ideology; A textual approach," Jeremy Munday (2007) examines how ideology is addressed in translation studies, and how it has been linked to manipulation and power relations. He illustrates the ideological impact on translation with some examples drawn from the translations of speeches and political writings. His interviews with revolutionary leaders in Latin America, such as Castro, Marcos, and Chávez, are already being used as supportive para-texts (Munday 2007).

In "Study on ideology-influenced translation: Based on Rickshaw boy by Evan King," Yang Hui (2008) argues for "the ideological constrains that shape a literary translation through the case study of Evan King's translation of Luotuo Xiangzi's Rickshaw boy" (p. 39). To support the interference of ideology in text selection, Yang (2008) claims that "[a]mong the most significant reasons for Evan King choosing Luotuo Xiangzi to translate [is] America's good wartime relationship with China and the ever-increasing American appetite for Chinese news in the 1940s" (p. 40). The target political-cultural policy has shaped the cognitive ideology of translators and then influenced their choice of strategies in translation. Furthermore, in "Ideological implications of translation decisions: positive self-and-negative other presentation," Dorothy Kelly (1998) explores "how decisions taken in the solution of translation problems can introduce ideological elements, in particular positive self and negative other representation, which reproduce and reinforce myths or stereotypes existing in the target culture regarding the source culture" (p. 57). Kelly (1998) also argues that "by painting a negative image of foreigners and other countries," the target culture is created with a superior image and thus "encourages nationalistic feeling which assures consensus" (p. 59). Finally, in "Ideology and translation with a concluding point on translation teaching," Behrouz Karoubi (2003-2009) discusses the impact of ideological norms on translation and concludes that translation teaching should emphasize how translators make strategic decisions due to various socio-cultural and ideological impacts in real life.

The above works feature either qualitative, critical discourse analyses or case studies with supportive examples. Due to the lack of statistical survey, this paper emphasizes the statistical result of the strategic difference in the translations of cultural references in Western novels before and after 2000. The statistical findings are mainly used to illustrate how different political-cultural policies implemented by different ruling parties during different times have ideologically impacted translators, either consciously or subconsciously, and then have affected their choice of specific strategies of translating cultural references during the translation process.

In the very beginning, some questions are raised for investigation, including: 1) What is the dominant strategy of translating cultural references in Western novels before 2000 in Taiwan and how is this dominant strategy relevant to the ruling government's political-cultural policy? 2) What is the dominant strategy of translating cultural references in Western novels after 2000 in Taiwan and how is this dominant strategy relevant to the ruling government's political-cultural policy? 3) What is the ideological significance of the difference in strategy between the pre-2000 and post-2000 translations of cultural references in Taiwan? Seeking answers to these questions helps demystify the ideological mechanism within the black box of translation. Specifically, this research helps the audience understand that ideology as an internal variable has been instilled and has been internalized by the translator under the influence of the nation's massive political-cultural machinery, and this ideological internalization is finally reflected in the translator's choice of strategy in the translation.

II. Literature Review

It is naïve to assume that prioritizing a specific strategy over others is an act of random choice. Actually, what strategies are selected and what strategies are avoided often suggests a conscious or subconscious reaction in response to some ideological operation within complex power relations. This research aims to explore the relevance of difference in strategies to implicit ideological interference during the translation process, so the relationship between ideology and translation will be discussed at some length. Additionally, two ideological policies of cultural nationalism and cultural laissez-faire will be used as the theoretical framework to support arguments in this research, so their basic concepts will be also illustrated in this section.

2.1. Ideology and Translation

Ideology has been defined in different ways, ranging from the Marxist tradition of false consciousness, Althusser's1 (1971) ideological interpellation of a subject through the state's ideological apparatuses, Seliger's (1976) concept of a political belief system, Foucault's (1980) effect of ideological discipline on the human body2, Terry Eagleton's (1991) power or belief, to Van Dijk's (1996) organized evaluative beliefs. Van Dijk's (1996) collective, shared beliefs are identical with Toury's norms3 (1999) because they all demonstrate the ideological realization of the concept of appropriateness and correctness (qtd. in Karoubi 2003-2009). As Nord (1991) has put, a series of questions arise in the translation practice from the power-oriented perspective: "What gets translated (what is valued and what is excluded)? Who does the translation (who controls the production of translation)? Who is translated for (who is given access to foreign materials and who denied)? How is the material translated (what is omitted, added, altered, to control the message)?" (p. 36). These questions involve "who is saying what to whom for what purposes" (qtd. in Eagleton 1991, p. 9), and therefore confirm that ideological manipulation also exists in the translation as it does in most forms of communication. Ideology explicitly identified as power relations is implicated in every aspect of human communication, and translation as one way of interlingual and intercultural communication has also been subject to ideological manipulation.

Translation cannot be separated from ideology. The core reason is that ideology is often coded in the linguistic expression (qtd. In Purtinen 1998), so translation that engages in a transfer from one language into another language is selected as an effective tool of ideological operation. Literary translation is particularly one of the powerful ideological instruments for cognitive manipulation because the plot and story easily conceal ideological didacticism. In Crawford's (2003) words, literary works "confront a range of issues to do with ideology" in terms of their production and use (2003, p. 5). Translated literary works often signal profound political, cultural and power relations that interact with ideology between the lines. In fact, the ideological mechanism subtly enters translations as they control, supervise and manipulate the translator's operation. As Álvarez and Vidal (1996) have put, behind each translator's decision-making, as to what to add, what to omit, which words to choose, and how to place them, there is always "a voluntary act that reveals his history and the socio-political milieu that surrounds him—in other words, his own culture and ideology" (p. 5). This view is endorsed by Calzada-Pérez's (2003) argument that "all language use, including translation, is ideological" (p. 2). Additionally, Schäffner (2003) maintains that ideological aspects can be determined within a translated text itself, at "the lexical level, for example, in the deliberate choice or avoidance of a particular word" and at "the grammatical level, for example, in the use of passive structures to avoid an expression of agency" (p. 23). These arguments support that translation is a site for ideological clashes, encounters, compromises and challenges.

It is noted that ideological interference in translation is operated in a subtle way. Most translators have absorbed ideological norms and have acted upon them without much consciousness. As Nord (2003) has put, "almost any decision in translation is consciously or unconsciously guided by ideological criteria" (p. 111). As people tend to avoid behaviors that are frowned upon and adopt behaviors that are considered as appropriate within the target community, many translators "select the functionally appropriate translation strategy sanctioned by the clients and the audience within the historical, socio-cultural context they belong to" (pp. 15-19). Most translators conform to the shared ideology and conventional norms in the receptor's society because they are eager to be socially accepted. Only few translators challenge the prevailing ideology for a specific purpose. In short, translation strategies are selected due to some ideological impact, but it is usually passed off as the translator's idiosyncratic preference and personal style.

No doubt, ideological power relations are subject to disruption and contestation, and ideological norms are fluid, changing and dynamic. Along with a change in the political-cultural policy raised by the ruling government, translators also change their ideological position and then alter their choice of stratgegy. The following part examines how frequently-used translation strategies vary due to a change in governmental policy.

2.2. Nationalism vs. Laissez-faire4

To effectively execute its political-cultural policies, the government often manipulates it in an implicit ideological form. This research introduces two political-cultural policies as potential variables that result in some difference in the translations of cultural references before and after 2000 in Taiwan. One is cultural nationalism, and the other is the laissez-faire policy. In the broad sense, nationalism suggests: "1) the attitude that the members of a nation have when they care about heir national identity, and 2) the actions that the members of a nation take when seeking to achieve (or sustain) some form of political sovereignty" (Nielsen 1998-99, p. 9; qtd. in Miscevic 2005). In this research, the first definition is used to explain how ideological operation is effectively undertaken through the linguistic and translation approach to realize the ideal of cultural ethnocentralism.

Under the leadership of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) from 2000 to 2008, Taiwan's national identity as an independent country was pursued, and Taiwanese consciousness was emphasized. To sustain this Taiwan-centered political ideology, Taiwan's culture was prioritized over foreign cultures. A series of events and campaigns were launched to enhance the status of Taiwan's local culture. The organizations of National Taiwan Museum, Center for Taiwanese Traditional Art, and National Museum of Taiwanese Literature were established to honor the artistic and literary works of Taiwan-relevant themes (Jhao 2008). Many artists, scholars and writers preserve and transmit Taiwan's culture through literary creation and translation. This phenomenon agrees with the concept of classical nationalism that a primary duty of each member of a nation is to abide by his/her recognizably ethno-nation culture (qtd. in Miscevic 2005). The journalist, Jhao Jing-yu (2008), declares that the main achievement of the DPP government is to develop Taiwanese's subjectivity and self-determination.

As mentioned above, translation can be used as an effective tool to spread and reflect some ideology. For example, to highlight the importance of the local culture over foreign ones, known as cultural nationalism, substitution is used by replacing original cultural items with target ones in the translations of foreign cultural references from English into Chinese. The use of substitution may minimize foreign cultural values. When specific attributes of original cultural references are removed and replaced with general descriptions or universal concepts, the target audience would pay no attention to the exotic and different traits of the foreign culture. The strategy of substitution effectively downplays the exotic and foreign cultural forms, and helps promote the target culture. From Thompson's (1990) point of view, ideological manipulation can be a success through the establishment of "a form of unity which embraces individuals in a collective identity, irrespective of the divisions that may separate them" (p. 64). Once when translations of cultural references are rendered with collective concepts and universal forms, they help achieve the purpose of unifying cultural differences and making the target audience overlook foreign cultural values. For example, the cultural reference "unction," which initially refers to the act of anointing as a rite of healing or something used for anointing in foreign countries (qtd. in Merriam-Webster, Incorporated, 2009), is translated as "熱情" (re-cing; fervor) in a general, universal form. "Redcoat" that refers to the red uniform worn by the British army is translated as "軍裝" (jyun-jhuang; the soldier's uniform) in the general, universal form.

To some extent, the strategy of substitution makes the target audience mistake the adapted or substituted cultural references for their own cultural products. For example, the Western slang "at her wit's end" is translated as "走投無路"(zou-tou-wu-lu; to find no way) and "不知所措"(bu-jhih-suo-cuo; to have no idea what to do), so that no trace of the foreign culture is present in the translation. When source cultural items are replaced with local, target ones, the translation stresses the importance of target conventions, and brings the target audience's attention to their own culture. Effective communication and easy understanding might be the reasons for the minimization of foreign cultural elements in the translation, but these excuses might be easily sabotaged because adding notes about foreign cultural references is also conducive to the audience's comprehension. The ideological interference has actually, intricately, subtly and implicitly, operated in the translation practice.

In contrast, the strength of the nationalistic claim for Taiwan's independence was quite weak in Taiwan before 2000. At that time, the political-cultural policy advocated by the Kuo-Ming-Tang (KMT) government focused on the unification with Mainland China across the Taiwan Straits, so they did not take the promotion of Taiwan's culture as the top mission or the primary duty. They adopted a liberal stance toward Western culture, and cultural diversity was perceived as good. Thus, intercultural exchange, cultural import, and acculturation5 were encouraged in every aspect of daily life. This is what we define as cultural laissez-faire based on the government's positive non-intervention. It is the liberal attitude to respond to foreign cultural values and beliefs. Seen in this light, translating cultural references tends to retain original attributes and specific cultural forms, and notes are added for effective communication. Retaining the strangeness and novelty of Western culture in the translation meets with Thompson's (1990) ideological concept of the fragmentation operation. As Thompson (1990) has described, "fragmentation is the opposite of unification: instead of unifying individual and groups in a collectivity, fragmentation refers to the division and separation of groups" (p. 65). This strategy emphasizes "distinction, differences and division between individuals and groups" (p. 65). "[T]he other" (the source culture) is constructed in opposition to "the one" (the target culture) and the two sets of cultural values are explicitly distinguished.

Take one example from the translation. The name of Guy Fawkes is transliterated as "蓋伊‧福克斯" (gai-yi‧fu-ke-sih) and a note is added: Guy Fawkes and some old Catholics plotted blowing up the English Parliament, but failed, and were caught on the site. By reading the note in the translation, the Taiwanese audience may know the event in the British history. In opposition to this, if the name had been adapted into a symbolic image, "罪犯" (zuei-fan, criminal), the audience would not know the relevant historical event in the U.K. Moreover, when "Bluebeard" is literally translated as "藍鬍子" (lan-hu-zih, blue beard) with a note that Bluebeard, a character in a French legend, is a brutal husband, killing his six wives and is eventually unmasked by his seventh wife, the Taiwanese audience might have some understanding of the French culture. Adding notes provides the target audience with extra information of the foreign culture, evoking "a sense of the foreign and sending the reader abroad (Venuti 1995; qtd. in Munday 2001, p. 173).

III. Methodology

Ideological manipulation is particularly salient in the translations of cultural references, and novels contain many cultural references, so this research investigates the dominant strategies of translating cultural references in two sets of translated novels published before and after 2000 in Taiwan (see Appendixes 1 and 2). These cultural references are categorized into three types: nonmaterial items, material items, and slang/idioms. The cultural references that do not describe physical substance are identified as non-material ones, including customs, religion, festivals, institutions and others. Some examples are "Sabbath" (安息日, an-si-rih), "Buffalo Gals" (歌曲, ge-cyu), "Mosaic Law" (摩西戒律, Mo-Si-jie-lyu), "Cyclops" (塞哀克羅拍士, Se-ai-ke-luo-pai-shih), "Boaz" (波阿斯, Po-a-sih), "the spirit of '76" (一七七六年的精神, yi-ci-ci-liou-nian-de-jing-shen), "Atalanta" (阿特蘭塔, A-te-lan-ta) and others. It is noted that the characters extracted from literary works, such as the Bible and Greek Mythology, are regarded as virtual and fabricated ones, so they are identified as non-material ones. Additionally, the cultural references that have physical substance are identified as material ones, including natural resources, real people, food, clothes, houses, transports and others. Some examples are "ragout" (啦古肉, la-gu-rou), "gold mohres" (莫赫爾金幣, mo-he-er-jin-bi), "guineas" (畿尼, ji-ni), "Bethesda" (畢司達池, bi-sih-da-chih), "Barmecide supper" (巴美賽德式的晚餐, ba-mei-sai-de-shih-de-wan-can), "negus" (尼格酒, ni-ge-jiou), "manna" (神賜與的食物, shen-cih-yu-de-shih-wu) and others. Finally, slang and idioms mean dialects and a specific style of speaking that are specific to a society or a group of people. Different cultures have different slang and idioms shared by a specific group of people. Some examples are "spare the rod and spoil the child" (不打不成器, bu-da-bu-cheng-ci), "a singed cat " (毛燒焦的貓, mao-shao-jiao-de-mao), "Can't teach an old dog new tricks" (老狗變不出新把戲, lao-gou-bian-bu-chu-sin-ba-si), "bag and baggage" (全副行頭, cyuan-fu-sing-tou), "what the devil" (見鬼, jian-guei), "wash my hands" (不關我事, bu-guan-wo-shih), "Yankees" (北佬兒, bei-lao-er) and others.

In her thesis, Ding (2009) used six strategies as the research criteria to investigate the dominant strategies of translating cultural references, including literal translation, transliteration, adding notes, paraphrasing, cultural substitution, and omission. Unlike her, this research simply uses adding notes, cultural substitution and praraphrasing because the finding will be analyzed within the ideological framework, not within the polysystem one. Adding notes6 is a way of providing additional information to help readers catch the message easily. For example, "black sheep" is directly translated as "黑羊" (hei-yang), and a note is added: "敗類" (bai-lei, scum). Adding notes makes the target audience detect the alien, exotic elements of foreign cultures, and this helps achieve the goal of cultural differentiation and ideological fragmentation in Thompson's sense (1990).

Cultural substitution is a strategy of replacing the source language expression with a target language item that "does not have the same propositional meaning but is likely to have a similar impact on the target reader" (Baker 1992, p. 31). For example, "black and blue" is translated with a Chinese substitute, "鼻青臉腫" (bi-cing-lian-jhong, blue nose and swollen face). Paraphrasing7 is the strategy of modifying a source language item in compliance with target language conventions, so that the translation is readable and intelligible to the target audience. One example is the translation of "black morning's work" as "不是一件輕鬆的差事"(bu-shih-yi-jian-cing-song-de-cha-shih, an uneasy task), not "黑漆早晨的差事" (hei-ci-zao-chen-de-cha-shih, dark morning's task). Substitution replaces source cultural terms with target ones, and paraphrasing universalizes particular values with collective, symbolic images. These two strategies are used to tone down the exotic elements of the foreign culture, and to render the translation specific to the target culture.

IV. Findings and Discussions

In response to the first question: Which is the most frequently used strategy before 2000, Ding's (2009) statistical result shows that adding notes has the highest number of occurrences. Table 1 shows the variation of the three strategies in the cultural reference translations before 2000 (adapted from Ding's statistical result).

Table 1

Variation of the Three Strategies in Cultural References
Translations Before 2000

Strategies

Non-Material

Material

Idioms/Slang

Total

Adding Notes

26 Ocs

19 Ocs

5 Ocs

50 Ocs

Cultural Substitution

0 Oc

0 Oc

18 Ocs

18 Ocs

Paraphrasing

4 Ocs

1 Oc

2 Ocs

7 Ocs

Note: Ocs stands for occurrences.

The statistical result demonstrates that the most frequently used strategy is adding notes, which marks the highest number of occurrence. The strategy of cultural substitution only takes up 18 occurrences and paraphrasing, 7 occurrences. My observation is that adding notes is an effective way of creating division and separation between one/the local/the target culture and the other/the foreign/the source culture. By providing extra information about Western cultural values with notes, the translated novels help the Taiwanese audience acquire the background stories of Western historical events, legendary figures, literary characters and others. Adding notes promotes the foreign cultural input. For example, the translation of "Rubicon" as "魯比孔河" (lu-bi-kong-he) contains a note that crossing the Rubicon is a popular idiom meaning to make a fateful irrevocable decision, just as Julius Caesar led his army in 49 BC to cross the Rubicon to combat Roman General Pompey in the battle (my own translation). Reading the note makes the Taiwanese audience not only learn the symbolic meaning of the river (a decision on "no return") but also know the story of Julius Caesar in relation to the river. Furthermore, by reading the notes about David and Goliath, Michaelimas (a British festival in memory of Angel Michaelimas), Atalanta (a female character good at running in Greek Mythology), and Rafaello (an Italian artist), the Taiwanese audience may learn a few things about Western culture and distinguish cultural differences between the East and the West.

From the ideological point of view, the predominant preference for adding notes unmasks the liberal stance of the KMT government toward foreign culture in Taiwan before 2000. Under the impact of KMT's laissez-faire political-cultural policy, many translators have adopted the strategy of adding notes and thus introducing foreign cultural information. Adding notes highlights the differences between Eastern and Western cultures. Acquisition of foreign cultural values, through the reading of translated novels with an increase in foreign cultural knowledge would help acculturate Taiwan's young people. The impact of acculturation can be supported by a news report that the number of Taiwan's students applying for visas to seek advanced studies abroad from 1996 to 2000 grew steadily each year, peaking at 31,907 people in 2000, but the number fell from 32,016 to 24,599 from 2002 to 2003 (Med66 Com, 1998-2009). Despite other factors that may facilitate young Taiwanese audience's acculturation, translation has potentially served as an ideological means that affect the target audience's acculturation in a subtle, implicit way.

Next, in response to the second question: Which is the most frequently used strategy after 2000, Ding's (2009) statistical result shows that cultural substitution has the highest number of occurrences and paraphrasing has the second highest one. Adding notes is dramatically reduced. Table 2 shows the variation of the three strategies in the cultural reference translations after 2000 in Taiwan (adapted from Ding's statistical result).

Table 2

Variation of the Three Strategies in Cultural References
Translations After 2000

Strategies

Non-Material

Material

Idioms/Slang

Total

Adding Notes

6 Ocs

1 Oc

2 Ocs

9 Ocs

Cultural Substitution

1 Oc

1 Oc

24 Ocs

26 Ocs

Paraphrasing

14 Ocs

9 Ocs

2 Ocs

25 Ocs

Note: Ocs stands for occurrences.


The extreme preference for cultural substitution and paraphrasing after 2000 reveals that many translators have tried to eliminate alien traces and exotic forms when translating Western cultural references. This may be attributed to the translators' wish to achieve effective communication by conforming to target cultural conventions. Nevertheless, this inference is inadequate, and we may examine this translation phenomenon and strategic dominance within the ideological framework. Replacing source cultural references with equivalent ones in the target culture might result in the Taiwanese audience's ignorance of source cultural values. By situating them in the domestic/target cultural world, the strategy of cultural substitution deprives the target audience of the opportunity of learning foreign cultural values. The following examples are given to support this point.

The first example is that Western idioms such as "spare the rod and spoil the child," "in the lap of luxury," "through thick and thin," "against the grain" "Old man of the sea" and "gall and wormwood" are translated as "不打不成器"(bu-da-bu-cheng-ci, no success without efforts), "養尊處優" (yang-zun-chu-you, live in luxury), "赴湯蹈火" (fu-tang-dao-huo, go through fire and water), "違背我的天性" (wei-bei-wo-de-tian-sing, contrary to my nature), "十足的累贅" (shih-zu-de-lei-jhuei; an extreme redundancy), and "怨恨和苦惱" (yuan-hen-he-ku-nao, resentment and frustration), respectively. As these translations are domesticated, the Taiwanese audience would not know the origins of these cultural references in the Western world. The second example is that when the English idioms "the apple of one's eyes" and "in apple-pie order" are respectively translated as "心肝寶貝" (sin-gan-bao-bei, sweet darling) and "整整齊齊" (jheng-jheng-ci-ci; neat and tidy), the Taiwanese audience would not learn the crucial role of apples in the Western culture. The final example is that when the English idiom "black sheep" is translated with a Chinese equivalent "害群之馬" (hai-cyun-jhih-ma, a trouble-maker in a group), the Taiwanese audience will not know its original allusion in the Bible.

From the ideological point of view, cultural substitution is used as a means to help realize the objective of cultural nationalism by unifying all different cultural elements into the recognizably ethno-national ones. This argument agrees with Yuval-Daviews' (1997) notion that foreign cultural elements that are not recognizably national are downplayed and overlooked in the interest of nationalistic defense. The goal of unification is materialized through the removal of specific items that are strange to the target audience. Replacement of foreign cultural references with target cultural and universal ones helps to standardize specific cultural items into general images. When all foreign cultural references are unified, they are presented with the target cultural identity. This strategic manipulation agrees with Thompson's (1990) argument that the ideological operation of unification hopes to construct, "at the symbolic level, a form of unity which embraces individuals in a collective identity" (p. 64).

After the synchronic investigation of strategic differences in the translations of the cultural references either before or after 2000, I would make a diachronic comparison of the strategic differences in the same translations before and after 2000. Table 3 shows the strategic differences before and after 2000.

Table 3

Strategic Differences in the Translations of Cultural References Before and After 2000

Strategies

Categories

Pre-2000

Post-2000

Adding Notes (Ideological Fragmentation)

Nonmaterial

26 Ocs

6 Ocs

Material

19 Ocs

1 Ocs

Slang/Idioms

5 Ocs

2 Ocs

Total

50 Ocs >

9 Ocs

Cultural Substitution+ Paraphrasing (Ideological Unification)

Nonmaterial

4 Ocs

15 Ocs

Material

1 Ocs

10 Ocs

Slang/Idioms

20 Ocs

26 Ocs

Total

25 Ocs <

31 Ocs

Note: Ocs stands for occurrences.

The statistical result shows that before 2000, ideological fragmentation resulting from the use of adding notes (50 Ocs) takes precedence over ideological unification resulting from the use of cultural substitution and paraphrasing (25 Ocs). In contrast, cultural substitution and paraphrasing shows a higher frequency than that of adding notes after 2000. This contrast suggests that translators before 2000 tended to preserve the foreign, exotic elements of Western cultural references and the translation helped the Taiwanese audience identify the differences between Chinese and Western cultures. However, the translators after 2000 shifted their focus from Western culture to local culture through the unification of foreign cultural elements into standard and general forms.

The strategic differences before and after 2000 have shed light on some facts. First, translation is actually constructed in a specific socio-cultural context, not in a vacuum with no ideological impacts. Different socio-cultural norms under the ideological operation in different periods of time have governed the translator's strategic choice during the translation process. A comparison of the dominant strategies of translating cultural references in two historical periods has revealed the ideological impacts on literary translations in Taiwan through the execution of different political-cultural policies in different periods of time. Next, translation serves as a medium of transmitting ideological norms in a subtle, invisible way. Translation helps the government successfully enforce a specific political-cultural policy as if it were irrelevant to ideological education and/or manipulation. Translators, unconsciously most of time, have fallen prey to the alliance or conspiracy with the ruling parties, through the selection and use of one specific strategy, to spread and implement some ideological norms in the translations. Finally, it is confirmed that dominant strategies of translating cultural references are neither fixed nor permanently the same. The strategies change as translators who are situated within different political contexts acquire and internalize different sets of socio-cultural values and beliefs in different eras. Thus, translation strategies are dynamic because the political-cultural policies of ruling parties that shape the translators' ideological cognition and further govern their decision-making during the translation process are dynamic and constantly changing.

 

V. Conclusion

This research explores the relevance of strategic difference in the translations of cultural references to the government's cultural-political policies through a comparative investigation of the frequencies of strategies such as substitution, paraphrasing and adding notes in two sets of translated Western novels published before and after 2000 in Taiwan. The statistical result shows that before 2000, adding notes was the most frequently used strategy, but cultural substitution has been the most frequently used one after 2000. This finding confirms that most translators before 2000 tried to differentiate between domesticated and foreign cultures, therefore supporting and reflecting the impact of the KMT-led government's laissez faire policy. In contrast, the most frequently used strategy after 2000 is substitution that unifies foreign cultural elements into local, symbolic, and universal forms. This strategy is preferably adopted under the impact of the prevailing ideology of cultural nationalism, but it helps, in turn, sustain the DPP-led government's goal of cultural unification with Taiwan-centered nationalism. Such a variation of dominant strategies in the translations of cultural references sheds light on the ideological interference that has worked together with other variables (e.g. the textual function, the translator's educational background and others) to affect the translation result.

By observing and analyzing literature translation within the ideological framework, this research emphasizes how translators think and act under ideological norms in the receptor society. Only few translators will select strategies out of their free will and personal preferences. In conclusion, by comparing and analyzing strategies of translating cultural references in different periods of time, this research has given full consideration to the impact of ideology on translation. Literary translation does merit an ideological examination and this supports the thesis that ideology, one of the variables, has governed the translator's choice of strategy and the overall translation performance.


1 Althusser (1971) proposes two types of ideology that operate in various forms at different places in the daily life. One is the (Repressive) State Apparatus, and the other, Ideological State Apparatuses. The unified (Repressive) State Apparatus "belong entirely to the public domain, such as the government and the army, whereas Ideological State Apparatuses are part of the private domain, including churches, parties, trade unions, families, schools, most newspapers, cultural ventures, etc." (p. 144). Most importantly, "the (Repressive) State Apparatus functions by 'violence,' whereas the Ideological State Apparatus functions 'by ideology'" (p. 145).

2 Unlike some studies of the effect of ideology on the individual's consciousness, Foucault (1980) emphasizes the docility of body and the effect of discipline on human body. He argues that "the individual is not a predetermined entity which is acted on by the exercise of power. The individual, with his identity and characteristics, is the product of a relation of power exercised over bodies" (pp. 73-74).

3 Toury (2000) applies the concept of norms to translation studies and claims that norms govern every level of decision-making during the translation process from choice of text to translate to the very final choice of translation strategies (qtd. in Karoubi, 2003-2009). What Toury perceives as norms is similar to what I mean as ideology in this research.

4 The term, laissez faire, is initially found in the economic doctrine that "opposes governmental regulation of or interference in commerce beyond the minimum necessary for a free-enterprise system to operate according to its own economic laws." The physiocrats Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill strongly supported this policy, assuming that the individual who pursues his own desires contributes most successfully to society as a whole. In this research, the term laissez faire is used to describe the government's liberal cultural policy that avoids interfering with individual desire for Western cultural acquisition. (Answers Corporation, 2010).

5 Acculturation means a movement toward the dominant culture or reaffirmation of the traditional culture or synthesis of the two cultures (Berry, 1986). Acculturation is different from assimilation. In assimilation, the tendency is for the ruling cultural group to enforce the adoption of their values rather than the free choice or the blending of two sets of cultural values (qtd. in Merriam-Webster, Incorporated, 2009).

6 In discussing translation strategy, Newmark (1988) argues that literal translation often fails to translate the genuine meaning or the implication, so it needs an added note to provide further information. Furthermore, Newmark (1988) warns that "any information you find in a reference book should not be used to replace any statement or stretch of the text but only to supplement the text, where you think the readers are likely to find it inadequate, incomplete, or obscure" (p. 92). Davies (2003) also points out that "when simple preservation of the original [cultural specific item] may lead to obscurity, the translator may decide to keep the original item but supplement the text with whatever information is judged necessary" (p. 77). The strategy of adding notes is obviously used to supplement extra information for clear and adequate understanding of the translated text.

7 For Baker (1992), the strategy of paraphrasing is "the most common way of translating idioms when a match cannot be found in the target language" (p. 74). Its purpose is "unpacking the meaning of the source item, particularly if the item in question is semantically complex" (p. 38).

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Appendix 1

Pre-2000 Translated Novels

 

Translated Texts

Translators

Publication Time

Publishers

1

Jian-ai [簡愛] 

Li, Wen-qi

1999

Meta Media International Co., Ltd

2

Ai-ma-gu-niang [愛瑪姑娘]

Zhang, Jing-hao

1997

International Village Book Store

3

Tang-mu-li-sian-ji [湯姆歷險記]

Zhang, Mei-fang

1999

Sitak Publishing Co., Ltd.

4

Li-jhih-yu-cing-gan [理智與情感]

Sun, Zhi-li

1992

Lin Yu Cultural Enterprise Co., Ltd.

5

Siao-fu-ren [小婦人]

Qiu, Zu-wu

1962

Qi Wen Publishing Company

6

Ao-man-yu-pian-jian

[傲慢與偏見]

Zhong, Si

1993

Vista Publishing Co.

7

Pao-siao-shan-jhuang [咆哮山莊]

Liang, Shi-qiu

1998

Shu Hua Publishing Co.,Ltd.


Appendix 2

Post-2000 Translated Novels

 

Translated Texts

Translators

Publication Time

Publishers

1

Jian-ai [簡愛]

Si, Zhi-yun

2001

Wisdom & Knowledge Publishing Company

2

Ai-ma[艾瑪]

Xu, Yi-zhen

2006

Global Group Holdings, Ltd.

3

Tang-mu-li-sian-ji

[湯姆歷險記]

Gu, Wen-hao

Gu, Wen-yuan

2005

Business Weekly Publications

4

Li-sing-yu-gan-sing [理性與感性]

Yan, Ze-ya

2006

China Times Publishing Company

5

Siao-fu-ren

[小婦人]

Wang, Zhi-guang

2007

Storm & Stress Publishing Co.

6

Ao-man-yu-pian-jian

[傲慢與偏見]

Fang, Hua

2006

Dian Cang Ge

7

Pao-siao-shan-jhuang

[咆哮山莊]

Lin, Yi-jing

2001

Wisdom & Knowledge Publishing Company

 

Acknowledgements

I thank my graduate student, Ding I-wun, for collecting the translations of cultural references from two sets of seven translated novels. Under my supervision, she completed her thesis by analyzing these data with six strategies from the polysystem perspective. Unlike her, I analyzed these data with three strategies, and explored the implications of findings within the ideological framework.



Published - September 2010












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