The Recreation of Pock-Mark Liu and Wang Lifa in English Translations of Teahouse: A Systemic Functional Analysis of Mood Choices

  • Bo WangEmail author
  • Yuanyi Ma
Part of the The M.A.K. Halliday Library Functional Linguistics Series book series (TMAKHLFLS)


This chapter analyses the Chinese original and two English translations of a drama titled Teahouse—a literary masterpiece written by Lao She. The two English translations are rendered by two translators, John Howard-Gibbon and Ying Ruocheng, who translate for different purposes. The present study focuses on the dramatic dialogue found in Teahouse, and analyses the lines by two major characters, namely Pock-Mark Liu and Wang Lifa, with Pock-Mark Liu—the human trafficker being the antagonist, and Wang Lifa—the manager of the teahouse being the protagonist. The choices of mood by the playwright and the two translators are identified and compared. It is found that in the source text, certain mood types are purposely addressed to specific characters. However, in translation, the mood types are not always equivalently translated. When the clauses are addressed to people of a lower status, interrogatives are often translated as declaratives in the TTs, and declaratives as wh- interrogatives or imperatives. In addition, when the clauses are addressed to characters of equal or higher status, imperatives tend to be translated as declaratives, with lexical choices of modality often added. The present study represents one of the first attempts to analyse the dramatic dialogue of Teahouse from the perspective of SFL. It illustrates how SFL can be applied to drama translation and demonstrates how the translator’s concern of performability is realised through mood choices.


Drama Translation Teahouse Characters Mood Mandarin 



We would like to express our thanks to Professor Christian M. I. M. Matthiessen for discussions on this project and his guidance all along. We also thank Mark Nartey for proofreading our draft.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sun Yat-sen UniversityGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.Guangdong Polytechnic of Science and TechnologyZhuhaiChina

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