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A Descriptive Study of Translating Children's Fantasy Fiction

A Descriptive Study of Translating Children's Fantasy Fiction

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Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~content=t794297831
A Descriptive Study of Translating Children's Fantasy Fiction
Wen-chun Liang
School of Modern Languages, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UKOnline Publication Date: 01 May 2007
To cite this Article
Liang, Wen-chun(2007)'A Descriptive Study of Translating Children's Fantasy Fiction',Perspectives,15:2,92 — 105
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Full terms and conditions of use:http://www.informaworld.com/terms-and-conditions-of-access.pdfThis article may be used for research, teaching and private study purposes. Any substantial orsystematic reproduction, re-distribution, re-selling, loan or sub-licensing, systematic supply ordistribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden.The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representation that the contentswill be complete or accurate or up to date. The accuracy of any instructions, formulae and drug dosesshould be independently verified with primary sources. The publisher shall not be liable for any loss,actions, claims, proceedings, demand or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directlyor indirectly in connection with or arising out of the use of this material.
A Descriptive Study of TranslatingChildren’s Fantasy Fiction
Wen-chun Liang 
School of Modern Languages, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK 
Owing to the imperfect knowledge and language ability of child readers, translatorsoften encounter great difficulties and challenges in translating children’s literature.It can, therefore, be assumed that when translating children’s fantasy literature,which is in a highly local cultural form, translators often encounter translatingproblems concerning culture-specific items and are easily trapped in the dilemma ofwhether to ‘foreigniseor to ‘domesticate’ such items. This study focuses ontranslation problems and strategies regarding culture-specific items by analysingthe first five Harry Potter (HP) books and their corresponding Taiwanese versions.More specifically, the present study aims to shed light on the implications of how theadopted strategies affect target readers’ acceptance, and whether those strategiesare innovative or established, by looking at the relation of the HP translations andthe polysystem of translated children’s fantasy literature in Taiwan. The effective-ness of the translation strategies chosen
which may be used as a yardstick whendiscussing acceptability in translating culture-specific items in children’s fantasyliterature
was evaluated by observing 15 target readers’ response throughquestionnaires.
doi: 10.1080/13670050802153830
Harry Potter, culture-specific items, foreign implantation, readers’response, literary polysystem
Literary translation has long been viewed as a cross-cultural form of communicative behaviour and is probably one of mankind’s most complexactivities. Yet, owing to the lack of a comprehensive understanding of culturaldifferences and cross-cultural interactions, translation scholars and translatorsoften find literary translation a thorny issue. Translation scholars, therefore,endeavour to find solutions to such predicaments, and the focus of TranslationStudies (TS) before 1970s was confined to the fields of linguistics and linguisticphilosophy, which are prescriptive and source-oriented.The advent, in the early 1970s, of polysystem theory and its derivateconcepts, such as translational norms, agents of power, ideology andtranslation, has led TS toward a new horizon. As a result, literary translationhas received scrutiny in a wider cultural context with a focus on thetranslational norms and constraints that govern the production and receptionof literary translation. This is precisely the conception of the ‘cultural turn’,which holds that translation is not a conglomeration of words and sentences between two languages, but is emblematic of its cultural context and is acultural entity emerging from two divergent cultural universes (Bassnett &
0907-676X/07/02 092-14 $20.00/0
2007 Wen-chun LiangPerspectives: Studies in Translatology Vol. 15, No. 2, 2007
 D o w nl o ad ed  A t : 23 :26 18  F eb r u a r y 2009
Lefevere, 1998). Translations are believed to reflect the cultural and historicalconditions in which they have been produced. Many translation scholarstherefore make inquiries about the relationship between translation andculture by looking at how culture influences and constrains translation, andfurther investigate the manipulative textual processes of translation (Bassnett& Lefevere, 1998: 123). This shift of focus in literary translation is one of themost groundbreaking achievements in TS, and approaches to literary transla-tion have been regarded as descriptive, target-oriented, functional andsystemic.Although the development of globalisation stimulates cross-cultural inter-actions and engenders better mutual understanding as human beings becomeacquaintedwithoneanother’sculture,imbalanceinpowerrelationsisapricklyreal world fact which can create an imbalanced cultural understanding. TheAnglo-American and Indo-European cultures are more visible in the globalcontextthanother,minority cultures.This statementisgenerally true;however,therearepartsoftheWesternculturesthatarenotsovisibletominoritycultures,forinstancemyth,folklore,legendandhistory,owingtotheirintrinsicallyminorstatus in the cross-cultural interactions. In literature, the aforementionedsubsystems of culture are often found in the fantasy genre. For example,many Western fantasy literatures were permeated by Greco-Roman myth andlegend and, even today, a substantial portion of Anglophone fantasy literatureremains more or less unreadable without a knowledge of classical mythologyand mythopoeic history. It is therefore generally true that the cultural contextseven of the highly visiblecultures may beless well known within the contextof fantasy fiction.AsManlove(1975)hasstated,fantasyisagenrethatcreateswonder,containsa substantial and irreducible supernatural element, and is a highly localisedform peculiarly expressive of the country where it develops. This suggests thattranslators of fantasy fiction should be equipped with a comprehensiveunderstanding of both source and target cultures. Yet, when the target readersarechildren,evenifthesourcecultureprevailsoverthetargetculture,children’simperfect knowledge of other cultures may create difficulties for translators. Ingeneral,thepurposeofthisstudyistoexaminetheliterarypositionoftranslatedchildren’s literaturein Taiwan and todiscussthe translational norms atwork ata microstructural level. Specifically, this study aims to discover the translationstrategies translators adopt in order to deal with culture-specific items, and theimplications of how the adopted strategies affect target readers’ acceptance.
The Literary Position and Translational Norms of Children’sFantasy Fiction in Taiwan
Bassnett and Lefevere’s (1998: 123) concept of the cultural turn suggests thattranslation is not an aggregate of strings of words or sentences between twodifferent languages, but is rather a characteristic of its cultural context and isitself a cultural entity. Translation should be viewed as cultural transfer. Thisapproach indicates that the study of translation should be situated in anexamination of wider cultural context, instead of merely linguistic context. Thedevelopment of the view of translation as a cultural entity can be traced back
Translating Children’s Fantasy Fiction 
 D o w nl o ad ed  A t : 23 :26 18  F eb r u a r y 2009

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