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Durham e-Theses
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Japanese Discourse on Translation in the Early Modern Era

KARAGIALIDIS, THEA (2021) Japanese Discourse on Translation in the Early Modern Era. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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In this thesis, I examine the Japanese discourse on translation taking place in the eighteenth through the nineteenth century. In particular, I focus on the relationship between the Japanese scholars of Dutch language and the longstanding Chinese studies tradition in Japan.

Through the analysis of a selection of paratexts (such as prefaces and explanatory notes) and standalone works concerning translation, I argue that from the point of view of translation discourse, the Dutch studies movement represented a defining moment in the history of translation in Japan. By approaching the primary sources with a framework born out of polysystem theory, I investigate the relationships among the writings produced by Dutch studies scholars, as well as the connections they constructed with the pre-existent translation traditions in Japan.

A group of scholars based in Edo manipulated the history of the Dutch studies movement, and also felt the necessity to write their own discourse of translation, in order to justify their work and Dutch translation as a practice in itself. Dutch studies scholars assembled strands of previous discourses that were available in Japan according to their perception of what was to be considered prestigious. They were inspired by the work of Japanese scholars of Chinese and Chinese translators of Buddhist scriptures, in whom they likely saw a reflection of themselves and a model to follow. Thus, in this thesis, I argue that rather than being influenced by the translation of European literature, such discourse was elaborated on an East Asian trajectory.
In Japan, various practices of translation (including the kundoku method) were closely connected to the acquisition of knowledge, so that the study of translation itself ended up being considered a fundamental tool to get an education, suggesting that the spheres of translation, teaching and learning should be examined together.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Early Modern Japan, Translation history, Translation discourse, Dutch studies, Tokugawa period, hon’yakuron, rangaku, kanbun kundoku
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Modern Languages and Cultures, School of
Thesis Date:2021
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:30 May 2022 15:59

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