Whose Voice Is This? Translating Gender in Sinophone Literature About Gender in Sinophone Literature

Uganda Kwan, Nanyang Technological University
Monday, February 20, 2017 -
12:00pm to 1:00pm
144 Louis A. Simpson International Building
Monday, February 20, 2017 -
12:00pm to 1:00pm

Although there has been a boom in the research of translation studies, the study  on translation of Sinophone literature about gender remain few and far between. Open discussion about pornography, obscenity or sexually explicit language has always been regarded as vulgar or inappropriate, even on the academic platform. Therefore, to invite less censure, Chinese researchers of these projects choose to deal with the history of the translation of the very concept of “gender” or “feminism”. Some focus only on the general conditions governing the censorship.

It is understandable that Chinese translators tend to abide by state regulations or regulations imposed by state-related apparatuses, such as the media or even commercial proprietors in the country. However, the subtleties of under-translating expletive or sexual discourse by means of toning these studies down, glossing them over or omitting them, especially among the work of female translators, are also commonly found outside China. The situation prevails even among circles of experienced translators or academically trained scholars.

The difficulties of acknowledging self-censorship are sometimes only a more subtle form of yielding to social propriety or norms. If to faithfully represent the original text is the golden principle of translation, then why is silencing or limiting sexual expressions still common practice in translation? Is there a gap between theorizing and practicing translation of literary works about gender? Is there a place for sexual minority if trans-articulation of everyday sexual discourse is still hampered by all kinds of tangible censorship or intangible self-censorship? Is the academic configuration about sexual minority discourse distinctive enough to address the issues of translation of works about gender when encountering a still rather dominant cultural patriarchy and gender imbalance? By reading into prominent writings in Chinese and English, such as Lu Xun’s The True Story of Ah Q (original published in 1921, latest English translation in 2009)Ha Jin’s A Map of Betrayal (original published in 2014, Chinese translation appeared in 2014), and Richard Mason’s The World of Suzie Wong (original published in 1957; Chinese in 1988)this talk will problematize the practice and discuss the research on translating sexual discourse in Sinophone community.

Sponsored by
The Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication