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Durham e-Theses
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Rethinking Binarism in Translation Studies
A Case Study of Translating the Chinese Nobel Laureates of Literature

XIAO, DI (2017) Rethinking Binarism in Translation Studies
A Case Study of Translating the Chinese Nobel Laureates of Literature.
Masters thesis, Durham University.

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Abstract

The theorisation of translation originated in a binary opposition embodied by the debate of word-for-word vs. sense-for-sense translation methods. It is true that by now, theories in Translation Studies (TS) have become significantly more elaborate and sophisticated. However, it cannot be denied that some of its most dominant and pertinent concepts continue to get portrayed in binary concepts, such as translation vs. original, translatability vs. untranslatability and translation vs. interpreting, among many others. This study believes that TS, not different from most intellectual inquiries of the human mind, has been built upon binarism.
The current research project aims to identify the traces of this epistemological tradition in the different stages of the discipline’s development, encompassing various theoretical models in the field, while reflecting upon the evolution of TS that marks its departure from such a tradition. It approaches the issue by examining three prevailing dichotomies in the field, namely source vs. target, prescriptive vs. descriptive and translation vs. non-translation. To propose an alternative to the existing binary perspective, this study borrows from the sociological models of Parsons and Giddens to portray translation as a social action.
The binary concepts are then evaluated against empirical evidence obtained through a case study of two translators of Chinese Nobel Laureates, Howard Goldblatt and Mabel Lee. Both paratexts and metatexts are consulted to demonstrate that the scenario is much more complex than what is suggested by these dichotomies. It should be clarified that this study does not advocate that scholars discard these terms altogether. Instead, it acknowledges that dichotomies serve a definite purpose in certain contexts, but aims to problematise their uncritical application. Eventually, it seeks to heighten the awareness of binarism in the discipline and strives for a balance between the precision and standardisation of the metalanguage employed in discussing translation.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Modern Languages and Cultures, School of
Thesis Date:2017
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:04 Dec 2017 11:48

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