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The (Re-)presentation of Hong Kong's Self-images:
The English Translation of Hong Kong Chinese Poetry (1983-2010)

CHOW, OI,LUN (2020) The (Re-)presentation of Hong Kong's Self-images:
The English Translation of Hong Kong Chinese Poetry (1983-2010).
Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

Full text not available from this repository.
Author-imposed embargo until 18 March 2023.


This study aims to investigate the re-presentation of self-images of Hong Kong in the English translations of Hong Kong Chinese poetry made between the years 1983-2010. Niklas Luhmann's social systems theory is employed as the major framework for illuminating the properties of poetry translation as a functionally differentiated system.
Luhmann's concepts are applied to examine the role poetry translation plays in social processes, primarily with regard to how poetry translation describes itself and society in a specific socio-historical context.

Luhmann's inspirational concepts of communication and observation provide insights into poetry and translated poetry as art forms, and the distinct mode of poetic-translational communication. Poetry translation is viewed as a communication system which emerged in an important period, the historical transition of Hong Kong to Chinese rule in 1997 and the years following the Handover. A statistical analysis shows that the number of published English translations of Hong Kong Chinese poetry increased in the period between 1983 and 2010. Several important instances of poetry translation and reading which occurred during the transition period also serve as empirical evidence concerning the emergence of poetry translation qua system which is self-reproducing and self-perpetuating.

Two case studies are discussed as the focus of attention due to their significance in the publication of poems which manifest some key aspects of Hong Kong's self-imaging. These include poetry collections by the scholar-poet Leung Ping-kwan and anthologies published by the Chinese-English literary translation journal Renditions. Informed by Luhmann's stimulating ideas, a comparative analysis of the source poems and translations reveals how selected images are recreated and actualized in various ways in the English translations, thereby extending an imitation of reality through the poetic language of English. Maria Tymoczko's approach of "metonymies of translation" is also applied as a supplement to systems theory in relating poetic descriptions to Hong Kong's postcolonial and cultural context. The data indicates that textual shifts can be identified mainly in terms of lexical choices, and that the English translations may selectively preserve, convert, amplify or omit individual descriptions in the source texts. Notwithstanding the ways in which poetic images are re-presented, poetry translation qua system functions socially to select information from the source poetry for English translation and to actualize a simulation of the depictions of society, thereby preserving historical images and constituting a self-description of Hong Kong.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:poetry translation, self-description, images, society
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Modern Languages and Cultures, School of
Thesis Date:2020
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:18 Mar 2020 15:06

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