Chinese Studies Public Lecture

March 19, 12:00pm - 1:30pm
Mānoa Campus, Tokioka Room (Moore Hall 319)

Wednesday, March 19, 12:00 noon

Tokioka Room (Moore Hall 319)

“Metaphors and Metonymies in Classical Chinese Poetry and Their English Translations”

Yu Suling, Ph.D., Peking University

Metaphors and metonymies are used in all type of literature but not often to the degree they are used in poetry because poems are meant to communicate complex images and feelings to the readers and metaphors often state the comparisons most emotively. In the Shi Jing, or Book of Odes, an anthology of songs, poems, and hymns dating from the Zhou Dynasty (1027–771 BC) to the Spring & Autumn Period (770–476 BC), with which Chinese literature begins, three important figures of speech are employed, namely fu (赋), bi (比), and xing (兴). Bi involves reasoning by analogy and approximates the Western figures of speech metaphor and simile. Metaphors are also used quite abundantly in Han and Tang poetry. Through an analysis of British and American translators’ translations of classical Chinese poems, I find that they mainly employ six ways in translating Chinese metaphors into English: delete the metaphor; turn a metaphor into a simile; keep the tenor but omit the vehicle; use a metaphor in the target language that has a similar meaning to replace the metaphor in the source poem; add a metaphor in the translation where there is no metaphor in the source poem; keep the vehicle but give a wrong interpretation of it. And two ways are adopted in translating Chinese metonymies into English. Possible reasons for the strategies are also given.

Dr. Yu Suling is an associate professor with the School of Foreign Languages, Peking University, Beijing, China. She studied English Language at Beijing Foreign Studies University and received her B. A. there. She received her Master’s degree in linguistics and Ph.D. in translation studies and comparative culture, both from Peking University. She has been the writer or co-writer of 5 textbooks and published more than ten papers in language teaching methodology, linguistics and translation studies. Dr. Yu has been awarded for Excellence in Teaching (1997–98) by Peking University and the Beijing City Bureau of Education. Her new book, A Target Culture Perspective: A Study of British-American Strategies for Form and Imagery in Chinese-English Poetry Translation (1870–1962), is to be published by Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press in 2014.

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Center for Chinese Studies and Confucius Institute at UHM, Mānoa Campus

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