A Corpus-based Approach to the Imagery and Symbolism in Chinese-English Translation of Children’s Literature


The past two decades have witnessed a surge of children’s literature translation studies worldwide (Alla, 2015). In contrast, such studies in Chinese context are underrepresented although there are excellent publications of Chinese children’s literature already rising to fame from China to the world. Among these, Bronze and Sunflower by Cao Wenxuan, has been translated into English and achieved remarkable success overseas, echoing with the ‘Going Out’ Policy in China. Using a corpus-based approach, this study focuses on the Chinese-English translation of imagery and symbolism in Bronze and Sunflower, in an attempt to gather empirical data. The research reveals that most images represented by the nouns with Top 100 occurrences have been transplanted into English through literal translation strategy. And by looking into two prominent types of imagery (‘reed’ and ‘eye’), it is uncovered that both are retained in target texts, while their collocation, co-occurring concrete nouns, and metaphorical languages are mostly transferred into English faithfully. Liberal translation and omission are rarely detected compared to literal translation. While some of them seem to enhance the readability for target readers, others may undermine the theme conveyed in the original work due to the inadequate translation. Based on the findings, this study sheds light on the issues of translating imagery and symbolism in children’s literature. Preferably, source-oriented approach is recommended as it shows faithfulness and respect to original writer while preserving the foreign flavor for target readers.

Author Information
Chenchen Zhang, Shanghai International Studies University, China

Paper Information
Conference: ACL2022
Stream: Language and Culture

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon