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Going to Understand 柴? Evidence and Significance of Metonymic Chains in Chinese/English Translation

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New Perspectives on Corpus Translation Studies

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Abstract

Based on three researches using big data (Chinese/English corpora) and small data (translation of a particular Chinese character), and assisted by other diachronic and synchronic records, this article attempts to establish the central argument that metonymic chains do exist in Chinese/English Translation practice. By metonymic chains in translation, it is meant that a chain of correlatively motivated metonymic extensions or inferences that are found in the multiple target language renditions of the source language original, and these semantic extensions or inferences are in compliance with human metonymic operations. The first study is on the Chinese term 明白 [míng bái] and its English equivalents. The second research study investigates the relationship between the English verbal and grammatical phrase be going to and its numerous translated Chinese counterparts. The third is a small part of a meticulous analysis of the English translations of Wang Wei’s 鹿柴 [lù chái/zhài], with the focus on the English translations of the Chinese character 柴. The findings show that many variations in Chinese/English translation cannot be a simple matter of unmotivated randomness or arbitrariness in style or diction. Rather, they are the demonstrations of different links in a metonymic chain that is justifiable by the cognitive rationale and can be uncovered when adequate diachronic and synchronic data are examined from the embodiment and frame semantics perspectives. In the translation practice, the metonymic conceptual movements are more fundamental than metaphorical projections, which are often found to be made by smaller metonymic operations in a chain. Based on the curves depicting the one-to-many relations between the source language originals and the target language renderings that constitute the metonymic chain, it is found that the Pareto Principle offers a close mathematical approximation of the data. In Chinese/English translation practice and studies, this means, about 20% of the data is able to account for about 80% of the total translation outputs. Pedagogically and theoretically, therefore, this 20% deserves our special attention.

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Lin, Zy. (2021). Going to Understand 柴? Evidence and Significance of Metonymic Chains in Chinese/English Translation. In: Wang, V.X., Lim, L., Li, D. (eds) New Perspectives on Corpus Translation Studies. New Frontiers in Translation Studies. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-16-4918-9_9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-16-4918-9_9

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