The Application of Domestication and Foreignization Strategies in the Rendition of Chinese Literature

A. Gang, D. Tan Ai Lin


This paper focuses on the dimension of Chinese-English translations. More specifically, the rendition of Chinese literature into English. The study grounds itself in the concepts of domestication and foreignization. These are major strategies in the field of translation, which are normally applied to culture-bound items. Whether a translator considers fluency and instant intelligibility the most important qualities of a good translation or uses a more conservative strategy to preserve authenticity, both strategies make sense. The translator either preserves the source text as much as possible and minimizes the strangeness of the foreign text for target language readers (domestication) or deliberately retains a degree of the original’s foreignness (foreignization). The present study sought to evaluate the translation of culture-related items found in Cao Xueqin’s classic, 楼梦 (A Dream of Red Mansions). Several English versions of this literary work were used for comparative analysis. Among the findings are instances of relative equivalence, departures from the source text, and errors resulting in some loss of meaning. To some extent, the target texts also lack the overall aesthetic value of the original. This study and its findings are relevant to educators and students in translation and scholars engaged in translational research. To date, there exists an unfortunate lack of published research similar to this study’s focus and design.


Keywords: Chinese-English translation, domestication, foreignization, literature.

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