Plagiarism, Irony and Incense Stick: A Sketch of Thai Translation Traditions

Date: 22/01/2015

Time: 7:00-9:00PM

Location: Centre for Translation, DLB 601, David C. Lam Building, Shaw Campus, Hong Kong Baptist University, Renfrew Road, Kowloon Tong

Speaker: Dr Phrae Chittiphalangsri

Translation Seminar Series


In the light of current translation studies scholarship, Southeast Asia is largely underresearched compared to other parts of Asia. Translation traditions in a region so diverse in politics, geographies and cultures such as this cannot easily be accommodated by established notions of literal vs free, domestication vs foreignisation, or the post-colonial pattern of appropriation, resistance and hybridity. Thailand, known for its absence of colonial past, is an interesting case of translation tradition that does not directly deal with colonialism and its consequences, but shows the different practices of translation that are problematic, ironic and even unimaginable.

In this lecture, I will discuss three key events in Thai translation history in order to provide the audience with a glimpse into my ongoing project on Thai translation traditions. First, I will discuss the case of “Lak Wittaya”, a journal of which the name can be translated as “plagiarism”, as the major outlet for translation of western literary works, and a conceptual benchmark for the practice of translation in the early period of prose translation. Second, I will look into the Thai translations of Anna and the King of Siam using what Theo Hermans calls “irony’s echo.” The lecture will be concluded with the discussion of the Bangkok-based Butterfly publishing house and contemporary leading figures in literary translation whose ethos of fidelity can be likened to the ceremonial practice of lighting incense sticks.

About the Speaker:

Phrae Chittiphalangsri is currently a lecturer in Comparative Literature and Translation Studies at Chulalongkorn University, Thailand. She received a BA in English in 2003, and was then granted the Anandamahidol Foundation Royal scholarship to continue her postgraduate study in UK. In 2009, she completed her doctoral thesis Translation, Orientalism, Virtuality: English and French translations of the Bhagavad Gītā and Śakuntalā, 1784-1884, at University College London. She served as co-editor of the online journal New Voices in Translation Studies from 2009-2012. Her current research includes studies of Thai translation history, with a particular focus on Thai translation concepts and traditions. The article ‘On the virtuality of translation in Orientalism’, in which she develops the concept of virtuality in translation and representation initiated in her thesis, was published in Routledge’s Translation Studies in 2014.

Plagiarism, Irony and Incense Stick: A Sketch of Thai Translation Traditions
Scroll to top