Language, Knowledge, Experience – Studying Translation Positively

Date: 26/05/2022

Time: 07:00-09:00PM

Location: Online via Zoom

Speaker: Professor Chunshen Zhu (The Chinese University of Hong Kong (Shenzhen))

Translation Seminar Series


This talk is a general introduction to Fathoming Translation as Discursive Experience: Theorization and application (Zhu 2021, Routledge). It will begin with an explanation of the study’s integrating hypothesis about the relationship between language, knowledge, and experience that underlies both the scene-setting and stance-taking first chapter and the theoretical foundation modelled in Chapter 2. It then observes how the text as a structure of meaning is realized as dynamic experience in reading along the unfolding of its information (Chapter 3), and why the sentence can serve as an experiential unit of translation to function as an operational link between the text and its integral parts to ensure the textual accountability of translation (Chapter 4). We will also talk about the overall structure of argumentation and methodology of the study, identifying concepts and arguments that string the chapters together, and discussing issues that might be of interest to students and researchers. Whereas the first four chapters together furnish the conceptual and methodological framework of our positive approach to translation, Chapters 5-7 provide demonstrations to illustrate its actual implementation in phenomenon-focused theorization, all concerning experience generation with special reference respectively to transitivity-based modification and its implications for attention management, repetition in creating an artistic effect, and syntactic iconicity as a cognitive underpinning of a form-sensitive source or target text. The textual accountability of translation as discursive experience is further examined when we reach the final Chapter 8, where a text (in this case a Guilin tourism slogan, i.e. 桂林山水甲天下) with its English translation is scrutinized as a social event evolving through its varying historical and cultural situations to see how the same amount of information, repackaged in a seemingly ‘faithful’ and ‘beautiful’ rendering, may engender discursive experiences presumably unexpected or unwanted by the text producer.

Translation studies approached positively presents itself as a liberal programme of intellectual inquiry and humanistic education to advance our understanding of ourselves and of the world. Since the study is informed by more than one theoretical system and straddles such areas as language, literature, communication, and culture, I will be happy to answer any questions from the audience during the Q&A session.

About the Speaker:

Chunshen Zhu has taught translation since 1982, at Fujian Normal University, the National University of Singapore, and then City University of Hong Kong. He is currently a professor of translation studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (Shenzhen), Honorary Research Fellow at the Centre for Translation, Hong Kong Baptist University, and Adjunct Professor at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University. He is also an editorial board member for Chinese Translators Journal and ITT, and an International Advisory Board member for The Translator. After receiving his PhD from the University of Nottingham in 1993, he has published constantly on translation studies as well as other subjects in both English and Chinese. His recent translations include Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis (《自深深處》, Yilin, 2008, 2015, 2022) and Logan Pearsall Smith’s All Trivia (《浮生瑣記》forthcoming, Yilin, 2022).

Language, Knowledge, Experience – Studying Translation Positively
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