Publication details [#6121]

Hu, Qingping and Jun Xu. 2003. Semantic transliteration: a good tradition in translating foreign words into Chinese. Babel 49 (4) : 310–326.
Publication type
Article in jnl/bk
Publication language
Target language
Journal DOI


Aiming at the situation of diversified ways of using loanwords in Chinese, this paper reviews the history of word translation, covering the practices and principles from the Tang Dynasty up to now, especially that in the three climaxes of translation; it analyzes the causes of the diversity of translation techniques from political, societal, cognitive, linguistic, cultural and economic perspectives; and it suggests that semantic transliteration is a good tradition in translating foreign words. Chinese characters represent not only syllables, but also morphemes, so every transliteration arouses a certain association. Chinese is rich of homonyms. Based on the features of the Chinese language, to overcome the shortcomings of pure transliteration and pure free translation, the authors expound the feasibility of semantic transliteration, i.e. a combination of phonetic transcription and semantic manipulation of the original word, and point out that such translation, whose product is a phono-semantic loanword, possesses many advantages, and is worth advocating.
Source : Based on abstract in journal