Etymology and sememe analysis in translation
It is common to see various Chinese translations of a single English word/phrase in practice. Etymological tracing attempts to diachronically study the origin and its historical successive changes in both form and meaning of a given word/phrase, the purpose of which is acquisition of a comprehensive understanding of its core information. Sememe analysis is atomization of semantic components and deep semantic structure of both source language and target language to examine the semantic proximity and possible affinity between the two. This paper takes “stakeholder” and its Chinese translations as a case in point, for which there occurred a diplomatic and linguistic stir between the U. S. and China. By studying its origin, semantic evolution and dictionary definitions, and conducting a contrastive sememe analysis upon its various Chinese versions against the original word, this paper expounds the operationality of the qualitative method of etymological tracing and the quantitative one of sememe analysis and concludes that both etymological tracing and sememe analysis are viable approaches to tackling similar issues as seen in the case of “stakeholder”.
Published online: 07 July 2009