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Translation studies facilitates national branding


2020-09-01 02:23

Zhang Jie
Chinese Social Sciences Today


Scholars conducted an in-depth discussion on such topics as the theoretical innovation of translatology, translation practice and talent training from the perspective of a community of civilizations at a webinar held recently by the School of Foreign Languages at Shandong Normal University.

As a special means of cultural expression, translation activities play a vital role in promoting the interaction of different cultures and the cultural image of an ethnic group or a nation. Translation practice, translation studies and talent cultivation contribute to constructing a community of shared future for mankind and maintaining cultural diversity. Translation activities are dedicated to communication, mutual understanding and continuous improvement, said Xu Jun, a professor of liberal arts at Zhejiang University.

Wu Yun, dean of the School of Foreign Languages at Tongji University, said that translation is essentially an act of discourse featuring the displaying and shaping of images. Translation activities are committed to building the images of source texts in target texts, the images of source cultures in target cultures and even a nation’s image internationally. Translation studies should focus on how to effectively express China in foreign languages, facilitate national branding and enhance our cultural power of discourse so as to strengthen cultural soft power.

Liu Yunhong, a professor from the School of Foreign Studies at Nanjing University, said that although the study of the translation of Chinese literature has made continuous progress, it still requires enhancement in many areas, such as the necessity of active translation of Chinese literature, translation methods and international acceptance. In the context of Chinese culture “going global,” scholars should deepen research into the translation of Chinese literature and translation processes, thus achieving the fundamental goal of cultural equality and effective communication between China and other countries. 

In modern times, numerous political, academic and socio-cultural concepts have been introduced into China through translation, and these concepts have been included into the modern Chinese language system after various adjustments and transformations. Meanwhile, some basic concepts of the Chinese culture have also spread abroad and finally entered the cultural systems of some languages. 

In recent years, as research into the digital humanities has emerged, academic circles have begun to apply digital technologies such as text analysis, data mining and geographic information systems to the history of the translation of concepts. The following topics are being studied from the perspective of the digital humanities: the translation and historical evolution of concepts; the dissemination and acceptance of translated concepts; the pedigrees and comparative study of translated concepts; and the impact of translated concepts on the ideologies and discourse systems of target cultures, said Hu Kaibao, director and a professor of the Institute of Corpora at Shanghai International Studies University.

History of translation is experiencing changes in its research scope and methods. Scholars are shifting focus from re-editing old texts to exploring new areas, from grand to micro history and from history of literary translation to history of cultural exchange. In the past, scholars tended to adopt an approach of internal literary translation. In the future, scholars should pay more attention to historiographical research methods, distinguish among historical materials, historical essays and historical views, and use inductive logic. This will aid in reconstructing historical facts and promote more objective historical reviews, suggested Qu Wensheng, a professor at East China University of Political Science and Law.

Wang Kefei, a chair professor of Beijing Foreign Studies University, mentioned two major directions for future translation studies: the establishment of translatology with Chinese characteristics and its integration with international standards. 

Jiang Yajun, vice president and a professor of Xi’an International Studies University, also suggested building a translation education system with Chinese characteristics, based on the theoretical innovation of translatology and the requirements of translation majors in the new era.

Ren Wen, dean and a professor of the Graduate School of Translation and Interpretation at Beijing Foreign Studies University, said that we should develop original interpreting theories with distinctive Chinese features. To this end, we need to unearth valuable traditional interpreting resources and identify Chinese characteristics in current interpreting activities and teaching, while actively communicating with international counterparts and tracking international research findings. 

Traditional theories of Chinese translation are not limited to the scope of translation techniques and translation standards. Chinese translation studies inherently possesses abstract and logical theories and is therefore able to uphold our “theoretical confidence” when exchanging with international scholars, said Lan Hongjun, a professor at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies.


2020-09-01 10:20
Scholars of historical geography explore man-land relationship