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Stylistic approaches to literary translation: with particular reference to English-Chinese and Chinese-English translation

Huang, Xiaocong (2011)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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This thesis reports a study applying stylistics in the analysis and assessment of literary translation, with specific reference to translations between English and Chinese. It focuses on how to maintain the original style in the translation – in terms of techniques or linguistic features in the literary texts and their correspondent functions – and on how to assess the style of the individual translation and translator as measured by quantitative data derived from corpus linguistic analyses.

The thesis starts with an overview of the specific challenges of literary translation and the value of stylistics as an approach assisting in a better understanding of the literary texts, which shows the need for using stylistics in literary translation. It then illustrates how to apply stylistics in literary translation, taking the examples of central stylistic phenomena such as metaphor, free indirect speech, heteroglossia, repetition, and transitivity in the English translations of the celebrated Chinese novella《阿Q正传》(The True Story of Ah Q) (Lu Xun, 1921) and in the Chinese translations of the English short stories “Two Gallants” and “The Dead” (Joyce, 1914). I investigate the distinguishable “fingerprints” of the Chinese translators of the 《阿Q正传》 through scrutinizing the data uncovered by corpus tools, taking into consideration each translator’s individual style alongside any detectable motivations pertaining to their personal experiences, the publishing context, and so on.

This study argues that literary texts – as distinct from non-literary texts – have a real but hard-to-define “added value”, carried by the particular way in which they exploit lexis, grammar, and pragmatics; this added value is everything to do with the text’s style. A good literary
translation must reproduce something of the source text’s style; otherwise the distinguishing literariness in the original will not be conveyed in the target text. Stylistic and corpus methods can help identify important stylistic features in the original, and can help us to evaluate whether equivalent features are or are not present in one or several translations of that original.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Toolan, Michael
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
Department:School of English
Subjects:P Philology. Linguistics
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:2949
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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