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Translating Characters’ Names in Hong Lou Meng during the 20th Century: From Seeking Lexical Equivalence to Maintaining Communicative Function

DOI: 10.4236/oalib.1102028    1,041 Downloads   1,614 Views  
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ABSTRACT

The classic Chinese novel Hong Lou Meng has been introduced into many different cultures through an important medium: translation. Over one dozen of English versions have been published so far, and have been studied by so many researchers. In those translated works, a variety of translation strategies are adopted for translating characters’ names. Name translation is a small field of studies on translating Hong Lou Meng, However this topic is not only interesting but also important. This study examines how characters’ names in Hong Lou Meng are translated in the various versions of the novel’s English translation, and investigates the reasons behind the name-translation strategies. More specifically, this paper focused on the four English versions of Hong Lou Meng published in the 1920s and 1970s. Different translation strategies and associated underpinning reasons are revealed. Specifically, translators in 1920s (e.g. Wang Chi-Chen, 1929) tackled the task of translating names in Hong Lou Meng by word-to-word translation and pin-yin transcription, placing an emphasis on seeking an equivalence at the lexical level. Hawkes (1973) and Yangs (1978), on the other hand, made more efforts to determine the functions of the character names in the source text and attempted to find methods that would more adequately render the functions in the translated work. Through examining the prevailing theories for translating Chinese texts into foreign languages during those two periods, together with name-translation by different translators, the study reveals that the changes in translators’ strategy in the name-translation indicates a shift from seeking lexical equivalence to maintaining communicative function.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Cite this paper

Zhou, H. (2015) Translating Characters’ Names in Hong Lou Meng during the 20th Century: From Seeking Lexical Equivalence to Maintaining Communicative Function. Open Access Library Journal, 2, 1-7. doi: 10.4236/oalib.1102028.

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