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Rethinking Translators Invisibility:

Domestication as an Assertion of Local Identity

Hsin-hsin Tu
A globalied !orld has brought !ith it increasing contacts and interactions
among "eo"le from different regions# yet$ "arado%ically$ in terms of the issue of
translation e%change$ &nglish still remains the dominant force that cancels out cultural
differences' La!rence (enuti is right to "oint out the imbalance bet!een the !orks
translated into and out of &nglish$ and thus call for visibility in translation' At the
same time )domestication takes on different forms and has different meanings for
dominant cultures and non-dominant cultures: !hile the dominant domesticates others
in translations$ the non-dominant more or less re"licates' This is ho! the !orld is
translated and transformed into a roughly unified$ globalied !hole'
*ut of this "aradigm of globalied translation e%change$ a "otential crisis looms
in s"ite of the !ay the coming of globaliation has been celebrated' +ith the
dominant cultures high e%"osure$ the non-dominants have the need to kee" u" !ith
)!hats going on and translate as !ell as absorb dominant ideas to the e%tent that
these ideas are internalied' This is ho! the dominant cultures have been reinforced
!illingly in the non-dominant ones' In this sense$ domestication has a different
meaning for the t!o sides' ,or the dominant cultures$ it is a !ay to erase the foreign
and smooth out the translated !orks# for the non-dominant cultures$ on the contrary$ it
is a !ay to absorb the foreign and accommodate themselves to it' The crisis of
globaliation occurs in this kind of double-canceling of the non-dominant' Distinctive
characteristics need to be e%"lored and manifested as a !ay to demonstrate local
voices' In terms of literary translation$ !orks !ith e%"licit sub-ectivity are of
"articular interest because they sho!$ in the "rocess of translation$ not merely !hat is
said in the original !ork$ but along !ith it$ ho! the guest culture can "ossibly be
understood in the host culture'
This "a"er takes as a case study a .hinese translation of .hinua Achebes Things
Fall Apart' It ado"ts an alternative a""roach to (enutis "ro"osal of translator
visibility in order to argue ho! a translators sub-ectivity /visibility0 is demonstrated
in a different mode in a non-dominant culture' This then becomes a means for the
non-dominant culture to assert its o!n identity in the face of the "ressures brought to
bear on it by the dominant culture'
1ey !ords: translation studies$ globaliation$ sub-ectivity$ (enuti$ Achebe
English Hegemony and Globalization
The term globaliation started to circulate !idely during the latter half of the
2345s' Although (enutis !ork The Translators Invisibility is not a direct reflection
on the "henomenon$ it nevertheless targets a significant as"ect6significant as"ects of
this global trend' 7lacing himself in the center of Anglo-8a%on culture$ (enutihe
attem"t to confronts the conventional "ractice of translation !ithin an &nglish-
s"eaking culture by ' He "ointings out t!o "ossible "roblems that ensue from the
naturaliation of translation' ,or &nglish s"eakers$ naturaliation as an a""roach this
!ill mean a closure to!ard the outside !orld as !ell as a tendency to overlook the
intrinsic difference of others9 both !ill eventually hinder the develo"ment of the
hosttheir culture' (enutis "oint is self-reflective and ethical# yet$ at the same time$ it
should not be seen as a "aradigm because of a very sim"le fact: (enuti is s"eaking
!ithin the center of the culturally and linguistically dominant' Already$ a lot of
research has been done based on (enutis argument !hich fails to meet the same
degree of self-reflection$ and !hich im"oses his observation on a territory of a very
different nature' *ne only needs to google the !ords :translator; and :invisibility; to
discover many instances of research conducted along the binary of :domestication;
and :foreigniation$; regardless of !hether the cases studied are !ithin or outside the
s"here of &nglish-language culture' Among those numerous !orks$ some are a!are of
the "roblem of the a""licability of the binary$ !hile others acce"t it !hole-heartedly
!ithout giving it much thought' Let us bear in mind the fact that the <uestion of
!hether translation "rocess and strategy should be divided by domestication and
foreigniation remains unsolved$ for there are those !ho are reluctant to acce"t a
clear-cut division' Let us also bear in mind another fact$ namely that the situation of
&nglish-s"eaking culture doesnt al!ays a""ly to other cultures$ and yet$ this self-
evident fact tends to be overshado!ed by the desire to flo! !ith the current tide of
=ichael .ronin has been one of the first to tackle the issue head!ay' He attem"ts
to come u" !ith a "ragmatic attitude to!ard the im"act of globaliation on non-
&nglish s"eaking cultures$ !hich is a better starting "oint for those outside the
dominant circle' To use the !ord :dominant; is risky' Isnt .hinese one of the
"redominant languages of the !orld> In terms of the "o"ulation of .hinese users$
there is no doubt about its influence# yet$ as =ichael .ronin "oints out$ &nglish is the
single dominant language in the !orld today' +hen com"ared or contrastescontrasts
!ith it$ any other language can be -ustifiably "ut in the "lace of the non-dominant$ and
that includes .hinese' It is fair to say all the cultures and languages in the !orld are
under the influence of globaliation# nevertheless$ this is !here the similarity ends
bet!een the dominant and the non-dominant' As far as &nglish-s"eaking cultures are
concerned$ the closure to the foreign threatens to "ut their develo"ment at a standstill$
but that danger currently remains merely a "otential one$ one that is yet to eventuate'
*n the other hand$ the im"acts for non-&nglish cultures are more immediate and
sometimes may even amount to a matter of survival' =ichael .ronin again !arns:
=inority languages that are under "ressure from "o!erful ma-or
languages can succumb at le%ical and syntactic levels so that
over time they become mirror-images of the dominant language'
Through imitation$ they lack the s"ecificity that invites imitation'
As a result of continuous translation$ they can no longer be
translated' There is nothing left to translate' /.ronin ?55@: 2A20
To argue that .hinese culture is being threatened by the trend of globaliation is
of course an e%aggeration$ but the need to ride on the global /&nglish0 !ave does
mean that .hinese is facing similar "roblems shared by the non-dominant cultures'
+e may take (enutis research as an e%am"le' Des"ite the fact that the translators
invisibility is a common "henomenon in the &nglish-s"eaking !orld$ the same can not
sim"ly be a""lied to the rest of the !orld'
The Question of (In)visibility
It is "ro"osed here that the real scenario for the non-dominant cultures goes
beyond the issue of /in0visibility' ,irst of all$ the non-dominant culture$ during the
"rocess of translating &nglish !orks$ can not ignore the fact that their translation
situations are different from that !hich "ertains in an &nglish-s"eaking culture:
sim"ly "ut$ the non-dominant translates$ for the most "art$ for the sake of kee"ing
itself abreast !ith the &nglish-s"eaking !orld' As the &nglish language has long ruled
as the hegemony$ and general kno!ledge about it is "revalent$ !here is the )trial of
the foreign for the non-dominant !hen &nglish-s"eaking cultures are not at all
unfamiliar> +hen mentioning the influence of &nglish on other languages$ =ichael
.ronin has "ointed out that as other languages take in more terms$ e%"ressions$ and
neologisms from &nglish$ these languages fail to go through the trouble of e%"anding
themselves in terms of their ca"acity as a tool for thought' By easily ada"ting
themselves to the global lingua franca$ non-dominant languages$ and not -ust the
minor languages$ are at the same time ad-usting themselves to the dominant cultures$
regardless of !hether this is !illingly or un!illingly$ consciously or unconsciously$
thus conforming to a global universality' Thanks to the develo"ment of the Internet$
the e%"edient of borro!ing &nglish !ords is -ustified in most cultures e%ce"t for a
handful fe!' +hat is more$ there is no longer an obvious time lag in information
transmission: some business communications or ne!s releases occur in real time#
even "ublishers can distribute a ne! book simultaneously in different markets
throughout the !orld' In other !ords$ &nglish language and culture is "art of the
factors that determine u"-to-datedness' +hereas to &nglish culture$ Verfremdung in
translation "ractice is a trial leading to self-elevation$ as far as other cultures are
concerned$ it is not so much a trial as a necessity' A <uestion more to the core of
culture e%change is the high degree of visibility of &nglish$ !hich no other culture can
afford to turn a blind eye to'
Things are more com"licated for the non-dominant !hen &nglish is used as a
bridge bet!een other cultures' *ne of the biggest dangers is that !hen Anglo-8a%on
culture becomes a global umbrella$ !e find more and more situations !here .hinese
have to e%"erience other cultures via &nglish' This "oints to the fact that our
understanding of other regions is established mostly through the reflection of the
hegemony' Is this a form of second-hand translation> 8"ivak has "ointed out that all
third !orld literatures are turned into a )tranlatese$ !here a female !riter from
7akistan !ould sound similar to a Tai!anese male !riter /(enuti ?55A: @C40 If that is
the case$ one !onders$ ho! does a 7akistani understand a Tai!anese$ or vice versa>
The chance is that both "arties !ill have to get to kno! each others literature through
&nglish and !hat they kno! and !hat they think about each other is determined by
ho! they are "resented in &nglish' Daturally$ one can easily retort that the situation is
not a cons"iracy on the "art of Anglo-8a%on culture$ and e<ually "oint out the t!o
"arties should take the res"onsibility for mutual understanding in the fashion of )thick
translation' This is true$ but one also needs to consider the <uestion of accessibility in
a "ragmatic !ay' There is no denying that &nglish as a lingua franca serves as a
channel for different regions$ !hich offers a first im"ression of other cultures that
other!ise have very little contact' Therefore$ besides the ideal situation !here there is
a one-on-one culture e%change$ !e should not ignore that in reality$ globaliation has
transformed the !orld into an all-to-one scenario' +hat should be a s"ectrum of
cultural variety seems to turn into a "icture of the global &nglish "ers"ective that
leads to the invisibility of other cultures'
These are the reasons !hy (enutis binary is unable to offer a sufficient
e%"lanation to the situations else!here$ nor should foreigniation be a""licable as an
ethical attitude to!ard translation$ at least not for any language "aired !ith &nglish'
(enutis idea of foreigniation can be traced back to Antoine Berman$ and all the
!ay to 8chleiermacher and the tradition of Eerman Romanticism' There is no need
for any doubt about the good !ill and ethical attitude behind the "ro"osal for a
foreigniation strategy in translation# ho!ever$ this vie! fails to address the reality
that cultural e%changes are not im"lemented on an e<ual footing99translation is
never generated from a vacuum$ and there e%ists in cross-culture communication a
kind of )class struggle' &arly "ost-colonial studies failed to address the issue of class#
like!ise$ translation studies !ill not be com"lete unless !e cover the sociological
as"ect and focus on the issue of e<uality' (enutis reflection on &nglish hegemony in
the field of translation is a !elcome !arning but the issue he raised should remain in
its local sco"e# to a""ly it to a global sco"e is "roblematic'
Translators (In)visibility
,or (enuti$ the translators invisible status in Anglo-8a%on culture is attributed to
several factors' The number of !orks translated into &nglish only make u" an
insignificant "ro"ortion of its "ublishing market' +ith res"ect to "ublication$
translated books remain marginal# com"ared !ith other &uro"ean countries$ translated
!orks in Anglo-8a%on culture a""ear to have a smaller share' The scenario in other
cultures is rather different' In a culture !here$ annually$ translated !orks outnumber
non-translated ones$ translations visibility becomes higher accordingly' &ven though
this fact doesnt necessarily translate into a higher visibility of the translator$ the
reader from a target language !ill have a better tolerance to different kinds of
translation strategies' =ore often than not$ !hat determines a translated !orks
rece"tion is not the translation strategy or <uality# rather$ it has much to do !ith
If one "uts the number of !orld!ide &nglish users into consideration$ it is clear
that the end-users of translation !ill have$ to a greater or lesser e%tent$ some
kno!ledge of the &nglish language' Translation is a unidirectional act$ but !ith a
"otential bilingual readershi" /&nglish users as !ell as learners0$ translators
"erformance is more likely to be e%amined by the "ublic' In this sense$ even !hen a
translator em"loys a )domestication strategy$ their translated !orks are never really
domesticated and the translator remains visible'
The !ord bersetzung /to take something over0 can o"erate in t!o o""osite
directions$ hence the saying about taking the reader to the author or taking the author
to the reader' This formula is fit for humanistic s"eculation$ yet is it is only valid !hen
"laced in a :vacuum; that ignores anyleaves the reality- check out' To take the reader
to the author /source culture0$ it !ould im"ly that the reader has no easy access to
understanding of the other' +ith the ubi<uity of the &nglish language$ a large "art of
the !orld has relatively easy access to its culture$ irres"ective of the different means
and different degrees of e%"osure'
In an e"istemological sense$ human beings learn ne! things by "ro-ecting the
kno!n on the unfamiliar' Isnt the nature of translation a form of domestication
any!ay> 8chleiermachers :(erdeutshen; and :(erfremdung; !ill remain at a
humanistic level and the translators /in0visibility !ill give !ay to the translators
interference or sub-ectivity'
Negotiation with the Hegemony and the thers
&%actly a decade ago$ in a .IL8 8eminar held at Aston Fniversity$ the issue of
translation in the global village !as brought u"# "articular interest !as centered on
:cultural identity'; Ten years later$ it remains a concern des"ite the situation being
made different by 8e"tember 22$ !ith the hegemony reflecting more on its dealings
!ith others' &ven though everyone !ill agree that globaliation and localiation
/globalism and tribalism0 are )t!o threads running through our lives$ through the
"ractice of cross-cultural communication$ the t!o threads !ill converge$ and the
meeting "oint can serve as a reflection of the non-dominants cultural identity' +e
may take 8tarbucks as an e%am"le' It is an international coffee chain !ith a very
strong "resence in Tai"ei$ the ca"ital of Tai!an$ !ith similar settings the !orld over'
A"art from selling its cosmo"olitan-international atmos"here$ the chain also caters for
local needs$ offering a traditional moon cake during the .hinese =id-Autumn
,estival$ but !ith a coffee-flavored filling in "lace of the more traditional s!eet red
bean "aste' The ne! breed of moon cake can then$ to a certain e%tent$ be seen as an
e%am"le of a demonstration of local identity' In the "rocess of translation$ the
assertion of cultural identity is more com"licated than "astry making' &ven more
com"licated is the situation !here a .hinese translator in Tai!an !ants to introduce
an African literary !ork'
+hy can translating an &nglish !ork be seen as an act of negotiation> +hile
kee"ing u" !ith the hegemony$ one still attem"ts to retain ones identity so as not to
lose oneself in the "rocess' 7articularly !hen !e need to by"ass &nglish to bring
home an African !ork$ !ho are !e dealing !ith> +ill either end of the translation be
reduced to a sim"lified version of an &nglish "ers"ective>
Things Fall Apart! " #ase $tudy
African literature is largely an une%"lored area in Tai!an# yet$ it is interesting
that Digerian !riter .hinua Achebes !ork Things Fall Apart has been translated
three times in Tai!an /in 23CH$ 2345$ and 23350' The 2345 version is !orth "articular
attention !ith res"ect to the uni<ue translation strategy its translator a""lied' By
todays standards$ Anna Ioungs translation !ill no doubt fall into the category of
:domestication;$ "erha"s even an e%treme e%am"le of that' Iet$ her interference is far
from an act of disregard to the native culture of the Ibo tribe in Digeria'
By siniciing Achebes !ork$ Ioungs version created a confusion' If the reader
has no "rior kno!ledge of its translated status and goes straighta!ay into the story$ it
is "ossible for one to !onder !hether they have a co"y of a translation or an original
in hand' The language of Anna Ioungs version is richly .hinese$ !ith culturally-
s"ecific usages

and a traditional storytelling style' &ven the translation of Ibo terms is
infused !ith a distinctive feature of the .hinese language in !hich "honetic
translation may go through semiotic translation into gra"hic characters$ !hich !ill be
e%"lained later' ,rom (enutis vie!"oint$ Anna Ioungs siniciation of Achebes !ork
may be held as an indifference to the other culture because her translation
a""ro"riated the original and then transformed it into something like a .hinese !ork
on African rural life' &ven though Achebes !ork is !ritten in &nglish$ one can easily
Anna Ioung uses terms like $ !hich all carry distinctive culture
ague from either side !hether his !orks belong to the &nglish hegemony' Here$ I
maintain that his !orks de"ict the e%"erience of Digerians and should therefore
re"resent its native culture' As =ona Baker has "ointed out$ Achebes language is
sim"le and his &nglish com"rises a significant variety of Digerian usages$ and is thus
an e%am"le of a hybrid !ork' .oming from a former British colony and brought u"
!ith an &nglish education$ Achebe once admitted his !riting style !as the only !ay
he could e%"ress his o!n e%"erience' Achebes language is in fact a translation of an
oral tradition into an &nglish !ritten form' In this sense$ it is hard to determine a
foreigniation or domestication translation strategy for a .hinese translator$ !hich
"roves the limits of the (enuti binary'
Achebes language in Things Fall Apart is very sim"le$ yet the book describes a
social structure that is as com"le% and so"histicated as any!here' Achebes
motivation for !riting the book is to "resent a different side of Africa from !hat !as
de"icted in .onrads The Heart of Darkness$ restoring its o!n culture and customs' In
Anna Ioungs case$ her !ay of reading the !ork may be very different from
Americans' Fnderneath the sim"le language$ the translator sensed the dee"-rooted
traditions and order in Ibo society and identified !ith the e%"erience it !ent through
of early !estern influence'
Through sim"le language$ Achebe !as able to convey the oral tradition of the
Ibo "eo"le' &ven though Anna Ioung resorted to a more com"licated style$ her choice
is not totally incom"atible' .hinese story-telling !as a "o"ular form of
entertainment for the "ublic in .hina$ !hose history can be traced back to the 8ong
Dynasty /3H5-2?CH0' It usually took "lace in a "ublic venue like a teahouse$ !here a
story-teller !ould charm the listeners !ith stories' Eiven its entertaining nature$ the
style is a mi% of collo<uial and literary forms# together$ a good story te%t must stress
the beats and rhymes of the language as !ell as offer an intriguing historical or
legendary content so as to hold the listeners attention' Anna Ioungs decision to "lace
the Ibo oral tradition !ithin the frame!ork of the .hinese story-telling genre hel"s to
connect the t!o cultures through their oral "erformance art' In several scenes !here
there are more actions$ the translator !ill use onomato"oeia to create drum beats$
"roviding the reader !ith an aural sound effect' In addition$ the translator em"loys
some rhetorical techni<ues to bring the image closer to the reader' Another !ay of
featuring the oral tradition of Achebes !ork is the em"loyment of sentence-final
"articles in .hinese to enrich a sense of inter"ersonal communication' This hel"s to
convey various tones and emotions that allo! readers to fully immerse themselves in
a !orld that is both remote in difference and close similar in social surroundings' This
all !orks to "resent a "icture of an African tribe that is both colorful and full of life$
an effect that is in certain res"ects different from Achebes original'
In the descri"tion of the characters from the novel$ Anna Ioung sometimes
"ro-ects some !ell-kno!n .hinese characters' ,or e%am"le$ Fnoka$ the father of the
main character$ maintains a ha""y-go-lucky attitude to!ard life and en-oys drinks$
music and com"anies' In stark contrast to his ambitious son$ he !orries very little
about gaining a title or achieving success# not even his debt-stricken "overty !ill sto"
him from having a good time' In Anna Ioungs translation she here alludes$ for the
character of Fnoka$ to the famous fourth-century "oet Tao Iuanming$ for the latter
often e%"ressed his contentment !ith a idyllic life as !ell as drink and com"any'
Anna Ioungs handling of Fnoka instills the !ork !ith an interesting "ers"ective:
instead of treating Fnoka as a total loser as o""osed to his son$ there is an element of
sym"athy for Fnokas !ay of life and it adds more to the conflict of values bet!een
the characters'
The above e%am"les of Anna Ioungs translation should not merely be read as
e%am"les of substitution of cultural scenes# rather$ the translators intention !as to
create an image of tribal life that !as rich !ith its uni<ue customs and com"le% !ith
its o!n social structures' In short$ Anna Ioung !anted to dig further into the
seemingly sim"le language structure used by Achebe and to bring forth$ on her o!n
"art$ a heightened sense of the de"th and richness of African culture' &ven though
Anna Ioung em"loyed a strong .hinese sense in her translation$ she also made a great
effort to bring her readers closer to Ibo' Its understandable that the Ibo terms Achebe
used in his !ork !ould a""ear to be )alien to most &nglish s"eakers$ and thus the
!riter "rovided a glossary in the end of the book' *ur translator could have been
content !ith using this glossary$ yet she !as !illing to go further by consulting a
native s"eaker of Ibo' =ore than that$ the translator "aid great attention to the choice
of .hinese characters to re"resent both the meaning and the sound of s"ecific cultural
terms in an :intimate; !ay of -u%ta"osing the t!o cultures' *ne e%am"le of that is her
dealing !ith the term :obi;$ !hich means )the large living <uarters of the head of the
family according to the glossary "rovided by Achebe himself' Ho!ever$ in the novel$
Achebe further describes ho! the main character *konk!os three !ives each has a
hut of their o!n$ forming a )half-moon behind the masters hut )obi' In Anna
Ioungs translation$ she selected t!o .hinese characters !ith similar sounds to each
of the t!o syllables of the term' The t!o .hinese characters )ao bi /0 can be seen
as a symbol: The first character gives the idea of ho! the master hut !as located in
the indented "art of the curve formed !ith other huts$ and the second character
indicates the material used for the hut and the buildings sim"licity' Anna Ioungs
careful choice of !ords for the culturally s"ecific Ibo terms resulted from her close
reading of the te%t and a desire to re"resent the Ibo culture in its details$ and !hen
com"ared !ith the t!o other e%isting translations in Tai!an$ one has to admire Anna
Ioung for her translation "ro-ect of bringing the t!o cultures together'
The Translators Interferen%e
Translators as real "ersons have their o!n agendas and interests$ as !e are
reminded by Anthony 7ym$ and hence !e !ill al!ays find interference on the "art of
translators in the te%ts# the translator in this study case is no e%ce"tion' Anna Ioung
has only done t!o translations$ la!k "ike #e by John Ho!ard Eriffin and Things
Fall Apart by .hinua Achebe' Her choice of translation surely reflects her "ersonal
concerns !ith racial issues and the status$ !hich no doubt has something to do !ith
her "ersonal e%"erience as an immigrant to the F'8' in the 23C5s and her sym"athy
to!ard other minority grou"s' 7erha"s more im"ortantly$ she !as motivated by the
destiny shared by "eo"les undergoing drastic a drastic cultural transformation at a
certain historical moment' In the "reface to her translation of Things Fall Apart she
admitted Achebes !ork reminded her of the history of .hina for the "ast hundred
years' During this "eriod .hinese culture under!ent the severe im"act of +estern
influences: old values !ere challenged$ there !as the disru"tion of the younger
generation from traditional life$ and chaos and confusion came !ith the ne! changes'
8he noted that she couldnt hel" feeling sym"athy !ith the ru"ture that the tribal
"eo"le e%"erienced$ !hich "erha"s e%"lains her strategy for translating Achebes
A better understanding of Anna Ioung hel"s to e%"lain !hy she chose to deal !ith
Achebes !ork !ith this distinctive strategy' +hy did Anna Ioung turn the sim"le
language into such a rich and colorful !orld> *ne the one hand$ she -oined Achebes
a""eal to change the image of Africa as a barbarous and uncivilied land$ des"ite their
having different audiences to address' ,or Achebes "art$ it !as almost a )!riting
back$ bringing out the long e%isting African culture that had been much neglected by
+estern !riters' ,or Anna Ioungs "art$ !hat !as more at stake !as to overrule the
stereoty"e of Africa in local .hinese culture$ !hich !as and to a large "art still is a
result of seeing the !orld through the "oint of vie! of the dominant culture' By the
time Anna Ioungs translation !as "ublished$ Tai!an had transited from an
agricultural society to an industrial one# therefore$ the rural scenes in Achebes novel
recalled a recent "ast and generated a sense of nostalgia' &ven though the "re-
industrial life !as sim"ler$ that society !as by no means devoid of liveliness or
energy$ !hich is !hy Anna Ioung "referred to elevate the !ork and bring out the
richness of the Ibo !orld de"icted in the novel in a bid to celebrate African culture'
&y'assing English(
There is no denying that for non-dominant cultures$ "articularly in the situation
!here there is little direct contact bet!een t!o regions$ the most immediate !ay to
get to kno! the other side is through the channel of &nglish' Hence$ the only African
!riters that !e in Tai!an kno! are those !hose !orks have been either !ritten or
translated into &nglish' ,urthermore$ it is no e%aggeration to say that the only
Tai!anese !riters or .hinese !riters that have been introduced to Africa are also via
the "ath of &nglish' This limitation of cultural e%change is the reality that !e have to
live !ith as non-dominant in the globalied !orld' +ith res"ect to the !orks on6from
Islamic culture in Tai!an$ the ma-ority of them are translated from &nglish$ !ith a
fe! e%ce"tions that are from ,rench' Fnder these circumstances$ our kno!ledge and
understanding of the Islamic !orld is merely a reflection$ if not a distortion$ from the
"ers"ective of the +est$ and this "henomenon functions in the fashion of having a
+estern inter"reter assuming a <uasi-omniscient kno!ledge and mediating bet!een
t!o se"arate non-+estern cultures' Any translator !ho sees herself as serving the
aims of cultural communication !ill have to deal !ith these issues !ith heightened
a!areness and sensitivity'
Having to resort to &nglish as the easiest channel to reach another non-dominant
culture$ a translator !ill need to engage in a close reading of the te%t and kee" a
distance from &nglish at the same time$ al!ays being alert that there might be
something that is being e%cluded from &nglish' There is one scene in Thing Fall
Apart !here a young boy is to be killed' He is told that he !ill be taken back to his
native village after years of living in Fmuofia as a hostage' Totally una!are of his
o!n fate and feeling uneasy about his homecoming$ he starts singing a nursery rhyme'
Although Achebe !rote the book in &nglish$ he deliberately left the nursery rhyme in
the Ibo language !ithout )translation or giving his &nglish readers any hint as to the
content of the song' Achebes intention$ "erha"s$ is to leave a s"ace that remains silent
and im"enetrable for &nglish readers$ but Anna Ioung$ for her "art$ translates the
nursery rhyme directly from Ibo into .hinese' *n the one hand$ the translator can
easily be accused of meddling in this affair$ for she did break the silence and make the
!ork more trans"arent' But on the other hand$ Anna Ioungs act also reflected the fact
that she !as !illing to take the trouble' In this case$ Anna Ioung can be called an
intimate reader of the original in the "rocess of cultural communication$ or a
busybody from the "oint of literary "oetics$ de"ending on !here one stands' Iet$
Anna Ioungs merits lie in her attem"t to understand the !orld de"icted by Achebe
not -ust by ho! it is "resented in &nglish$ but by going a ste" further to e%"lore it' To
undermine the blockage effect of &nglish in cross-cultural communication$ translators
!orking bet!een non-dominant cultures should al!ays go a ste" further and try to
discover more from the te%t$ tracing certain distinctive customs or "ractices$ being
more in sym"athy !ith the "roblems and challenges that the other non-dominant
culture has to face in ad-usting itself to the global !hole' This !ill hel" the translator
from a non-dominant culture to be more sensitive'
Is it "ossible to by"ass &nglish> Ies and no' *f course there are chances for non-
dominant cultures to have direct contact and !e should "romote the idea so as to
make the !ord globaliation live u" to its name' Iet at the same time$ one can not and
should not ignore the reality that &nglish does serve as an easy access to get to kno!
other cultures'
"n o''osite way for )enutis 'ro'osed ethi%s
If one follo!s (enutis idea that dominant cultures should em"loy foreigniation
for translation of cultural others$ ho! !ould this !ork in translation be done in non-
dominant cultures> 8urely the same criterion doesnt a""ly to a non-dominant culture'
As America has become the !orlds only su"er"o!er and the Anglo-American culture
the dominant force in the globe$ the rest of the !orld can hardly e%"ect to have the
same degree of significance to the dominant culture as the dominant culture is to
them' (enuti has "ointed out translation into &nglish tends to conform to certain ideas
or values that fit the mainstream# !hich for any culture dealing !ith &nglish means
their uni<ue cultural identities !ill be toned do!n to fit their e%"ectations of the
dominant' That is !hen the first "rocess of diminution takes "lace' +hen the non-
dominant !ork$ in ada"ting itself to the trend of globaliation$ ad-usts its e%"ectations
so as to better accommodate &nglish culture and language as it is$ trying to reflect the
dominant )as it is$ thus the second "rocess of diminution takes "lace$ only this time it
is a conscious act on the "art of the non-dominant culture' It is in these situations that
the non-dominants "resence as o""osed to the dominant is cancelled out t!ice$ in
both directions' =ichael .ronin "uts it this !ay:
If translation has traditionally suffered from lack of visibility then there
is a sense in !hich translators !orking in minority languages are doubly
invisible at a theoretical level' /.ronin ?55@: 2A50
If !e leave (enutis binary of domestication and foreigniation aside and focus on his
"ursuit of more ethical dealings in translation$ shouldnt the non-dominant at least try
to assert itself in the "rocess of cultural communication from time to time> Daturally$
this idea of reversing (enutis "ro"osal of translators invisibility to benefit the non-
dominant !ill "robably go against translation norms in non-dominant cultures$ -ust as
(enutis a""eal for foreigniation goes against the norms of Anglo-American culture'
In a bid for non-dominant cultures to kee" a balance in the struggle of influence
!ith the dominant$ they can not be content !ith merely kee"ing abreast !ith the
latter# nor can seeking their "resence in the dominant culture be the only "ursuit in the
"rocess of cultural communication' Instead$ the non-dominant needs to !ork on
establishing its "resence as !ell as asserting its sub-ectivity in its o!n cultural
identity' Translation is a one for t!o or more cultures to meet# it is therefore a "lace
for the translator to re-negotiate the relationshi" bet!een self and other' +ith the
translators interference$ the non-dominant culture !ill not have to lose itself too
<uickly to the dominant culture' That is !hy this "a"er suggests domestication is a
!ay to "reserve local cultural identity amid the trend of globaliation$ !hich is by no
means going against the ethical concerns of (enuti: A different "ositionality re<uires a
different strategy' To achieve this goal$ it is not to say that all translations done in
Tai!an should take an a""roach similar to that of Anna Ioung' After all$ the
fundamental value of the )trial from the e%"erience should never be ruled out$ and
this a""lies to any culture around the globe'
"sserting sub*e%tivity through domesti%ation
It is recognied that all translation is sha"ed according to factors that go beyond
linguistic trans"osition and that all translators more or less e%"ress their sub-ectivity
in their !orks$ and because of this$ one may it can be argued that the issue of
translators sub-ectivity is of little significance' Ho!ever$ to make such a claim is an
underestimation of the translators "otential as !ell as a denial of an active role to the
translator' 8ub-ectivity is something that is al!ays living and kicking$ but it never
remains stabilied' +hen facing an outside influence that over"o!ers the self$ one can
o"t for conformity or resistance# ho!ever$ in a globalied !orld$ neither !ill ensure
the survival of the over"o!ered' The only !ay for secure survival !ill mean ado"ting
both a""roaches'
+e may take literary translation in Tai!an as an e%am"le' The market is not
short of !orks that conform to the global dominant$ and yet$ there are only a fe!
attem"ts to bring the !orks closer and -u%ta"ose the t!o cultures on an e<ual footing'
In this light$ there should be a least some encouragement for the translator to try an
alternative a""roach and confidently resort to resources "rovided by her o!n
language and culture' This !ill certainly hel" to destabilie the norm' Anna Ioungs
transformed Achebes !ork and "resented an African !orld rich in sound$ color and
life$ and at the same time$ she "ro-ected a very traditional .hinese culture onto that
!orld$ reviving a "oetic sense of the local literary culture' In reading her translation$
the reader !ould be moved by the "lot as !ell as the sentiment that had been aroused
by the translators so"histicated !riting style' Besides$ the ability to domesticate a
foreign literature also indicates the fact that the target culture is ca"able of re-
"resenting the !ork$ accommodating all the uni<ue e%"ressions$ distinctive use of
languages$ "articular human e%"eriences$ or creative thoughts' In another conte%t$
8"ivak talked of looking for!ard to giving a lecture on Deconstruction at the
Fniversity of Jadav"ur in Bengali$ seeing it as a test case for "ost colonialism/ibid':
A5H0' Beneath the surface of the t!o rather different e%am"les one can find a similar
agenda: a"art from arguing the native culture is not in any sense inferior to the more
"o!erful one$ there is an attem"t to "rove this fact through their distinctive !ays of
cross-cultural communication' Anna Ioungs translation !as not shy about .hinese
identity or her sym"athy to Ibo culture' In an ontological sense$ her strategy may seem
to betray Achebes !ork because she deviated from the original$ but to see things
from a different angle$ there is no <uestion that her translation is a resistance to the
strong Anglo-American influence and it is more "olitically correct'
It goes !ithout saying that )domestication here does not refer to crude and
thoughtless omissions and alterations$ but a "ainstaking !ork to bring the t!o "arties
together and a !ill to see things !ith )ones o!n eye so as to make -udgments on
ones o!n' &ven though this attitude contradicts (enutis a""eal to the translators
visibility$ !e must allo! this for the non-dominant to have a voice to conduct )self-
talk so as to cultivate a stronger degree of self-a!areness' +ithout a better
understanding and a high confidence in oneself$ a non-dominant culture is susce"tible
to losing itself in a cultural communication that is far from reci"rocal' '
+o%alization and ,omesti%ation
8trange to say that similar cases to Anna Ioungs are scarce in the era of
globaliation' If one agrees on seeing the 2345s as the beginning of globaliation$
!hy is it that translations of a similar nature$ of !hich Anna Ioungs is such an early
e%am"le$ are so scarce> Indeed e%am"les of translators interference are abundant$ yet
!e have to make a distinction bet!een the act of )localiation and )domestication'
Here )localiation refers to a res"ond to )globaliation$ aiming for the ada"ting of an
international brand to suit each regions cultural a""ro"riateness or adding a "inch of
local flavor to !in the market through a sense of familiarity' The dubbing of the
American animated sitcom $outh %ark in Tai!an tried to reflect the diversity of
&nglish accents and ethnic backgrounds by ado"ting different local dialects' This
hel"s to connect the local audience and "rovide some amusement' This is a common
a""roach for "eo"le to e%"erience a global commodity in their o!n !ays$ and it also
allo!s "eo"le from different regions to "artici"ate in a sense of global homogeneity'
Domestication can be seen as a stronger version of localiation in !hich a foreign
!ork is trans"lanted and cultivated in the target land' The result of domestication is
that the end "roducts identity as a foreign im"ort is often unrecogniable# !ith its
original character ada"ted to the target culture$ !hat comes out is an e<ual
re"resentation of the t!o forces or a hybrid' To domesticate a foreign !ork !ill
re<uire a higher degree of ambition from the "art of the translator or that such a norm
e%ists in the target culture' In Anna Ioungs case$ her ambition !as obvious#
therefore$ domestication indicates a stronger desire to assert sub-ectivity'
+hy is it that in the area of globaliation there are fe! translation e%am"les to
demonstrate a domestication strategy in Tai!an> *ne reason might be that
globaliation and localiation is a "air force that determines the flo! of trade and
technology' &ven though !hat localiation offers is a variant as o""osed the
globaliation$ it also offers an illusion that the local is tightly connected !ith the
global' The locals are thus contented !ith their situation !ithout a dee" understanding
that the so-called )connection is established "urely in an economic sense' That
e%"lains the lack of resistance through the "ractice of translation' Domestication$ on
the other hand$ can be a result of self-reflection on ones situation$ a form that
reasserts ones "osition and identity' Anna Ioungs translation$ along !ith a fe! other
!orks of similar nature$ !as "roduced in a s"ecific cultural "olitical background in
Tai!an' The sense of an%iety in .hinese cultural identity urged some translators to
treat translation as a one to renegotiate !ith the !orld and raise its self image' +hat
is interesting is that translation seems to be a more effective !ay than creative !riting
to assert sub-ectivity in the target culture' This is "erha"s not something beyond
com"rehension' Do!here can t!o cultures have a more direct and intensive
confrontation than in the field of translation# !here else can a culturally-conscious
"erson better e%"ress their an%iety and dis"lay their great e%"ectations as to their o!n
cultural identity>
In more recent translations in Tai!an$ there are e%am"les of the translators strong

' The attem"t is to claim a thick translation to the original$ but the overall
strategy remains on a "ragmatic level !ith a stress on the language variants and social
identities' =ore often than not$ this kind of interference !ill lead to an inconsistency
in terms of translation strategy sim"ly because the translator addresses the )local$
rather than the big "icture'

The ,ominant and the Non-dominant
+e have no! e%amined (enutis idea for its a""licability to the non-dominant$ and
no! it is only a""ro"riate to conduct the same e%amination to .hinese culture' ,or the
language "air of &nglish and .hinese$ Anglo-Americas hegemony is no doubt on the
u""er hand# so much so that there is still need for .hinese culture to e%ercise the
"o!er of resistance to it' Iet$ !hen the language "air is of$ shall !e say$ Thai and
.hinese$ the latter !ill clearly be the dominant one' This sho!s that the role of the
dominant and the non-dominant is a relative one$ and as the situation changes$ so
should a different strategy be taken' (enutis !ork is valuable for us des"ite the fact
that it is from the hegemonic center# !hen !e reflect on our cultural linguistic
situation and our dealing !ith some even less dominant cultures$ dont !e also
em"loy blindness /invisibility0 to others> In the Tai!anese "ublishing market$ there is
hardly any literary translation from Thai$ a recent e%ce"tion being The &udgment by
.hart 1orb-itti' The attitude to!ard 8outheastern Asia in Tai!an is one of neglect$ if
not ignorance' As .hinese en-oys a "osition as one of the dominant cultures of the
region$ !e should be careful not to turn a blind eye to the others in the same !ay as
Anglo-American culture does to other cultures'
It is fair to say that all cultures in the !orld have to be a!are of the dual roles /the
dominant and the non-dominant0 they "lay in the "o!er struggle' In the constant
changing of "ositions bet!een self and other !e have live u" to the ethical call to treat
others in the !ay one !ants to be treated' It !ould be hy"ocritical to have a double-
*ther e%am"les include $ a re!rting of The %i!ture of Dorian 'ray$ $
!ith the translators ambition to redirect the attention to Indian literature and to restore .hinese
literature through his choice of strategy$ as !ell as !$ !hich is translated into Tai!anese'
standards to!ard Anglo-American culture on the other one hand and .hinese culture
on the other'
Translation versus $elf-refle%tion
&ven though translation is a dual act$ each single "erformance is a uni-
directional' To see the "ractice holistically$ "articularly in the era of globaliation$ !e
need to be tolerant of alternative a""roaches so as to bring out the heteroglossia /in
terms of languages$ translation strategies$ and the "ositionalities0 of a true global
s"irit' Anna Ioungs translation has the characteristics of ethnocentrism but also
:hos"itality$; !hich doesnt fit into any single discourse of translation studies
/"erha"s sko"os theory is the only e%ce"tion0 but it dis"lays a stern agenda' To better
com"rehend her significance$ one needs to "ut her situation into consideration$ and
only then can !e realie her strategy as both a self-assertion and an ultimate res"ect
to!ard a remote culture' *ne of the risks of translation in the globalied !orld is a
lack of a self-affirmative act from the non-dominant culture and a failure to recognie
the fact that localiation is nothing but a !ay to "re"are the local to ada"t itself to the
global !hole' The a""arent cultural s"ecificity demonstrated in localiation attends
largely to the surface only$ offering an easy "ath to losing ones dee"er cultural roots
amid the strong an%iety to conform to a globalied !orld' Let us refer to 8teiners
hermeneutic translation "rocedures' +hile all translations go through the first t!o
ste"s /initial trust and aggression0$ only some actually im"lement the latter t!o
/incor"oration and com"ensation0' To be able to incor"orate the original that has been
u"rooted$ the translator !ill have to resort to their good!ill and res"ect to the cultural
others in order to "reserve the body of the !ork and embody it in her rendition' +ith
more care and "ersonal commitment$ the translator !ill then com"ensate the original
by bringing a s"irit to the body of translated !ork' =ore translation of a similar nature
should be encouraged' This a""lies "articularly to translation across the non-dominant
cultures$ for it "oints to a !ay of braving the !aves of globaliation'
.ethin/ing Translators Invisibilty
(enutis idea is much <uoted in the field of translation studies$ !ith translators
visibility and invisibility$ foreigniation and domestication as the most fre<uently
mentioned terms' In contrast$ it is to be noted that (enuti does offer minority
languages and cultures some strategies for resistance to Anglo-American culture' In
the cha"ter ).all for Action$ he !rote:
The ethnocentric violence of translation is inevitable: in the
translating "rocess$ foreign languages$ te%ts$ and cultures !ill
al!ays undergo some degree and form of reduction$ e%clusion$
inscri"tion' Iet the domestic !ork on foreign cultures can be a
foreigniing intervention$ "itched to <uestion e%isting canons at
marginal in the target-language culture$ but translate it !ith a
canonical discourse /e'g' trans"arency0' *r a translator can
choose a foreign te%t that is canonical in the target-language
culture$ but translate it !ith a marginal discourse /e'g'
archaism0' In this foreigniing "ractice of translation$ the value
of a foreign te%t or a discursive strategy is contingent on the
cultural situation in !hich the translation in made'/(enuti
233G: @250
+hat should be em"hasied is the "hrase )foreigniing intervention$ a !ay to
subvert' &ven though (enuti called for action to resist the Anglo-American hegemony$
in a bid to break it from its self-destructive translation "ractice$ the minority cultures
or the non-dominant cultures can -oin these forces' By consciously taking u" a
foreign6alien6unfamiliar a""roach$ the cultures outside the Anglo-American hegemony
!ill have a chance to s"eak u" for themselves in a !ay they see fit'
Achebe$ .hinua /233?0 Things Fall Apart( De! Iork: 1no"f'
A""iah$ 1!ame Anthony /?55A0 :Thick Translation;$ in (enuti /ed0 @43-A52'
Aveling$ Harry /?55H0 :&thical Issues in Translation;$ Ideya$ (ol'4$ Do'2$ 8e"tember$ C@-42'
Baker$ =ona /?55G0' Translation and )onfli!t' London and De! Iork: Routledge'
Bassneet$ 8' and Trivedi$ H' /eds0 /23340 %ost*!olonial Translation+ Theory and %ra!ti!e' London and
De! Iork: Routledge'
Berman$ Antoine /233G0 %our ,ne )riti-ue des Tradu!tions+ &ohn Donne( 7aris:
Berndth$ Lindfors$ /ed'0 /23320 Approa!hes to Tea!hing A!hebes Things Fall Apart( De! Iork: The
=odern Language Association of America'
Bielsa$ &s"eranca /?55G0 :Elobalisation and Translation' A Theoretical A""roach;$ "anguage and
Inter!ultural )ommuni!ation$ (ol' G: ?$ ?55G$ 2@2-2AA'
Borges$ Jorge Luis /?55A0 :The Thousand And *ne Dights;$ in (enuti /ed0 3A-254'
.ronin$ =ichael /?55@0 Translation and 'lobalization' London and De! Iork: Routledge'
KKKKK/?55H0 Translation and Identity' London and De! Iork: Routledge'
Hung$ &va /?55G0 Translation and )ultural )hange+ $tudies in History. /orms. and Image %ro0e!tion(
Amsterdam : John Ben-amins'
Eyasi$ 1!aku A' /23330 :+riting as Translation: African Literature and the .hallenges of Translation;$
1esear!h in Afri!an "iteratures @:?' CG-4C'
Diran-ana$ Te-as!ini /233?0 $iting Translation+ History. %ost*$tru!turalism. and the )olonial )onte2t'
Berkeley6Los Angeles6*%ford: Fniversity of .alifornia 7ress'
8"ivak$ Eyatri .hakravorty /?55A0 :The 7olitics of Translation;$ in (enuti /ed0 @H3-@43'
(enuti$ La!rence /ed'0 /233?0 1ethinking Translation+ Dis!ourse. $ub0e!tivity. Ideology' London and
De! Iork: Routledge'
KKKKK /233G0 The Translator3s Invisibility+ A History of Translation' London and De! Iork:
KKKKK /23340 The $!andals of Translation+ To4ards an 5thi!s of Differen!e' London and De! Iork:
KKKKK /ed0 /?55A0 The Translation $tudies 1eader. 6
ed( London and De! Iork: Routledge'
KKKKK/?55G0 :Translation$ History$ Darrative;$ #eta7#eta$ (olume G5$ numLro @$ aoMt ?55G$ 455-42H'
"#$ %&'()*+,-./012323C5,
Rollason$ .hristo"her /?55A0 :Translating a Transcultural Te%t - 7roblems and 8trategies: *n the
8"anish Translation of (ikram .handraNs NLove and Longing in BombayN