Tensions and paradoxes of biliterate performances in Singapore
This article examines problems arising from biliterate performances in English and Chinese in the context of the sociolinguistics of Singapore. The questions asked include: What are the ramifications of translating Chinese literature carrying anglophobic themes into English? How might translation displace anglophobic readings from Chinese literary works? What kind of identity discourse do self-translation practices engender? The article examines three cases of cross-linguistic practice as biliterate modalities in Singapore, with an eye on the identity discourse emanating from the translational space between English and Chinese in each case. In the first case, it is argued that the English translation of a Chinese poem with an anglophobic stance triggers an ironic self-reflexivity on the part of the target text reader and has the potential to exacerbate the cultural anxiety faced by the Chinese-speaking Self in the source text. The second case presents an example where the anglophobic interpretation of a Chinese play can potentially be ‘unread’ through the homogenization of code-switching through translation. In the final case of a self-translating playwright, it is found that English-Chinese and Chinese-English translations establish an asymmetric symbiosis whereby translation creates an interliminal space in which a hybrid identity discourse is negotiated. The three cases illustrate the tensions and paradoxes residing in the translational space between English and Chinese in Singapore, pointing to the problematic of interand cross-cultural communication in the multilingual state.
- 1.Anglophobia, biliterate modalities and identity discourses
- 2.Translating anglophobic/sinophilic poetry into English
- 3.Un-reading anglophobia through translation: The case of Quah Sy Ren’s Invisibility
- 4.Unequal exchanges in Kuo Pao Kun’s self-translation practice
- 5.Conclusion: Tensions and paradoxes of translation in Singapore
Published online: 17 May 2013
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