Translation Studies in Modern China: Retrospect and Prospect

Shouyi Fan
Foreign Affairs College, Beijing

Abstract

The present paper reviews some opinions representative of contemporary Chinese thinking on translation criteria, methods, and the traditional way of assessing the quality of translation. It then summarizes various new views on textual configuration, equivalence, and quantitative analysis, views which can be regarded as the logical consequence of the discussion of traditional topics. The article tries to show that the present movement towards a science of translating is a new trend.

Table of contents

Chinese translation studies since the founding of the People's Republic in 1949 may be roughly divided into three periods. In period one (1950–1965), national language policies with respect to foreign language education experienced a shift from English to Russian, then back to English. Soviet literaryand linguistic-oriented translation theories were introduced to China. Controversies on traditional topics were revived, and names such as Fedorov, Smemov, or Chukovsky gained currency among translators and translation scholars. Period two (1966–1977) was one of inactivity, due to a decade of cultural retrogression. Translation studies had ceased altogether, although translating still went on on a limited scale. Period three (1978-) has seen a [ p. 152 ]renaissance in both translating and translation studies. Advances in modern linguistics and in the science of translation of Western traditions have been made known to Chinese translators, and the introduction of information theory, systems theory and cybernetics has made interdisciplinary studies possible, giving a boost to translation studies. It is against this background that the highly diversified articles and monographs on which this account is based should be read.

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