(Self) Censorship and the Translator-Author Relationship: The Case of Full Translation, Partial Translation, and Non-translation in the Chinese Context

Date: 31/10/2013

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: Professor Tan Zaixi

Translation Seminar Series


This talk examines the translator-author relationship against the backdrop of governmental and non-governmental (publishing, editorial, and the translator’s own) censorship in present-day China. I distinguish three types of translator-author relationship affected by censorship and/or self-censorship, resulting in three categories of translations, i.e. full translations, partial translations and non-translations. The several relationships described will adhere to the traditional concept of translatorial ‘faithfulness’. Full translatorial ‘faithfulness’ results when the translator is fully committed to his/her author and represents the author as faithfully as s/he possibly can. In this case, the work being translated falls entirely within the category of ‘translatable/importable’ foreign literature, defined in turn as being ‘harmonious’ in relation to existing Chinese constitutional laws. The second type of relationship culminates in ‘partial translations’, whereby omissions, shifts of meaning, or the modulation of overall author-tone necessarily change the intentions of the author, so as to avoid potential conflict with government censors. Typical examples in this second category include the partly censored PRC versions of Hilary Clinton’s Living History and Henry Kissinger’s On China. The final category of translator-author relationship involves prolepsis, i.e. the translator’s anticipatory relationship with a work that has not been — and may not be — translated under existing conditions. Whether or not, in fact, such a ‘zero translator-author’ relationship eventually can emerge, thus converting non-translations into translations or partial translations, is worthy of further research. On this basis, the talk offers a theoretical framework for discussions about how various types of (self) censorship impact the translator-author relationship and the activity of translation within the context of the PRC.

About the Speaker:

TAN Zaixi is Professor of Translation at Hong Kong Baptist University. He obtained his first degree in English Language and Literature at Hunan Normal University (China), and postgraduate degrees (both MA by research and PhD) in General and Applied Linguistics (specializing in translation studies) at Exeter University (UK). He is the author of over a dozen books including 《翻譯與翻譯研究概論——認知•視角•課題》(Translation and Translation Studies: Perceptions, Perspectives and Methodology, 2012), 《西方翻譯簡史(增訂版)》(A History of Translation in the West: Revised Edition; recommended by the Chinese Ministry of Education as a postgraduate research coursebook in universities; 2004/2006/2008/2009/2010/2013), 《翻譯學》(The Science of Translation; 2000/2005), and 《新編奈達論翻譯》(Nida on Translation—New Edition, 1999/2003), and a wide range of articles on translation and translation studies published in major, refereed Chinese and international journals including Meta, The Translator, Neohelicon, Across Languages and Cultures, Perspectives, Babel,《中國翻譯》(Chinese Translators Journal),《外語教學與研究》(Foreign Language Teaching and Research),《外國語》(Foreign Languages),《東方翻譯》(East Journal of Translation) and 《外語教學與研究》(Foreign Language and Their Teaching).

(Self) Censorship and the Translator-Author Relationship: The Case of Full Translation, Partial Translation, and Non-translation in the Chinese Context
Scroll to top