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A Corpus-Based Cognitive Study of the “Rustic Literariness” of Translated Chinese Fiction

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Diverse Voices in Chinese Translation and Interpreting

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This paper is a corpus-based cognitive study of Anglo-American sinologists’ English translation of Chinese fiction during the last four decades. With a domain analysis of the semantically tagged corpus data, it shows that animals and plants are key concepts in the corpus of Chinese Fiction Translation in the four decades (CCFT), in sharp contrast with the reference corpora, that is, OTC, the Other-source-language Translational Corpus of Fiction, and EFC, the English Fiction Corpus of Balanced Selection. Data shows that the “rusticness” embodied in the construction of animal and plant images not only exists in the four periods, but also has no diminishing tendency in the translated Chinese Fiction. An analysis of the concordance-line corpus of animal and plant words reveals a variety of key cognitive domains like Emotional, Sensory, People, and Relationship, in the proximate surrounding contexts, clearly indicating the existence of metaphors, and further analysis is conducted on metaphors embedded in “as…as” construction. The diversified metaphors with animal and plant images are constructed along the Great Chain of Being, and fully reflect the rich imagination of the authors and translators. It is argued that the animal and plant concepts are not simply indexes of the rustic environment, but are essential in the construction of the literariness of translated Chinese fiction. Therefore, any criticism that neglects or denies the “rustic literariness” of Chinese Fiction and its translation is partial. The study has implications for introducing new theoretical models and empirical methods into literary translation studies.

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    For the name list of sinologist translators and title list of translated Chinese fiction, please contact the author.  The reseach is funded by National Social Sciences Foundation, PRC (Project No. 20BYY023).


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Correspondence to Yesheng Tan .

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Tan, Y. (2021). A Corpus-Based Cognitive Study of the “Rustic Literariness” of Translated Chinese Fiction. In: Moratto, R., Woesler, M. (eds) Diverse Voices in Chinese Translation and Interpreting. New Frontiers in Translation Studies. Springer, Singapore.

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  • Print ISBN: 978-981-33-4282-8

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