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2017-07-07 - Colloque/Présentation - communication orale - Anglais - 25 page(s)

Henry Kevin , "Listening to the Voices: Reflections on the Translation of Chinese Chengyu Idioms" in 8th Asian Translation Traditions Conference "Conflicting Ideologies and Cultural Mediation – Hearing, Interpreting, Translating Global Voices", SOAS University of London, Royaume-Uni, 2017

  • Codes CREF : Linguistique appliquée (DI5320), Langues et littératures d'Asie du sud et du sud-est, chinois (DI536Q), Linguistique comparée (DI5327), Traduction (DI5326), Enseignement des langues étrangères (DI5328), Linguistique appliquée (DI5323)
Texte intégral :

Abstract(s) :

(Anglais) Among the whole range of fixed expressions in Mandarin Chinese, so-called chengyus, four-syllable idioms with a deep historical and cultural entrenchment, are notorious for their supposed difficulty to translate into foreign, especially Western, languages. However, translation studies research in this potentially fertile territory is notably poor, either in China or outside the Middle Kingdom, as it is chiefly confined to scathing rebukes or (largely imperfect) dictionaries. Our presentation, which delivers the results we obtained in our PhD thesis, will attempt to fill the gap with defining translation problems posed by chengyus more thoroughly. To this end, we will introduce a translation criticism practical method to better appraise the gains and losses we could presumably expect in the translation of theses idioms from Chinese into French. Firstly, we will briefly characterise the nature of chengyus with a little more precision by emphasising their most salient distinctive features, i.e. rhythm patterns, high degree of fixedness, abundance of tropes, inscription in a written register, frequent intertextual relationships and complex connotations. Afterwards, we will detail the translation criticism framework, heavily inspired by Lance Hewson’s hermeneutic model, that we have built for analysing the translation of chengyus in the French version of four contemporary Chinese novels. We will show in particular how individual translation choices can materially alter or distort the heteroglossic/dialogic (polyphony) effects and the interpretation spectrum one can draw from the original novels, and how these variations can be measured effectively through a three-stage process: (1) analysis of the whole set of chengyus on a macroscopic scale, relying broadly on compared stylistics indicators; (2) examination of how the interpretative potential of chengyus has been translated on a microscopic scale in a limited number of carefully selected excerpts; (3) placing the translated versions in a typology based on confronting the results from the first two stages. Finally, we will draw conclusions on the possible influence the translation of chengyus has played in the reception of the four novels in the French-speaking audience and provide some further research perspectives.

Mots-clés :
  • (Anglais) Chinese literature
  • (Anglais) translation criticism
  • (Anglais) chengyu
  • (Anglais) phraseology