Indeterminacy, multivalence and disjointed translation
Macao Polytechnic Institute, Macao
One of the most prominent linguistic features of classical Chinese poetry is syntactic indeterminacy, which brings about multivalence, i.e. multiplicity of connotation, and poses a great problem as well as daunting challenge to Chinese-English translators, for English is basically a language with syntactic determinacy. This paper examines two aspects of indeterminacy involved in classical Chinese poetry, arguing that ‘disjointed translation’ is probably the most inspiring way to cope with Chinese syntactic indeterminacy.
We may begin our discussion of indeterminacy by referring to a question, or rather, a puzzle put forward by the famous modern Chinese poet Wen Yiduo (闻一多), also as a translator and translation commentator, while commenting on Shigeyoshi Obata’s (小烟熏良) English translation of Li Bai’s (李白) lines:
1976Introduction to literary stylistics. London: Batsford.
Coffman, S. K
1951Imagism. New York: Grove Press.
De Beaugrande, Robert
1978Factors in a theory of poetic translating. Amsterdam: Van Gorcum.
1930Seven types of ambiguity. London: Chatto and Windus.
[ p. 345 ]
1986The language parallax: Linguistic relativism and poetic indeterminacy. Austin: University of Texas Press.
1993Contemporary translation theories. London and New York: Routledge.
Gutt, Ernst August
1991Translation and relevance. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
1940Selections from the three hundred poems of the Tang Dynasty. London: John Murray.
1971The Pound Era. Berkeley: University of California Press.
1985The Japanese tradition in English and American Literature. New York: Hill and Wang.
1993Language, culture, and translating. Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press.
Nida, Eugene and de Waard, Jan
1986From one language to another: Functional equivalence in Bible translating. Nelson: Nashville.
1963Sound and sense. London: Longman.
1963The Imagist poem. New York: Hill and Wang.
Seung, Thomas Kaehao
1982Semiotics and thematics in hermeneutics. New York: Columbia University Press.
1975After babel. London: Oxford University Press.
1992On Chinese verse in English rhyme. Beijing: Peking University Press.
1989100 Best English Poems. Shanghai: Shanghai Translation Press.
1926 “An Approach to English Translations of Li Bai’s Poems”. Editorial Department of Chinese Translators Journal (ed.). 1987. The Art of Poetry Translation. Beijing: China Translation and Publishing Corporation.
1990《文学符号学》。 北京: 中国文联出版公司。
1990Literary Semiotics. Beijing: China Wenlian Publishing Corporation.