Translatability

Authored by: Yifeng Sun

The Routledge Handbook of Chinese Translation

Print publication date:  October  2017
Online publication date:  October  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138938267
eBook ISBN: 9781315675725
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315675725.ch6

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Abstract

The notion of translatability is as old as translation itself and also at the very foundation of the possibility of translation. The concept is a well-trodden ground but still remains central to translation studies and beyond. Translatability is reputed to be haunted by the apparition of untranslatability, which stipulates and defines the limits of translatability. In practical terms, the main task for translators is to identity translatability and be aware of its limits and then develop appropriate strategies of what works best to expand such limits. Whether something can be translated or not depends on a host of factors, the most important of which is no doubt meaning. But meaning in different cultural discourses is problematised. The act of translation entails the interpretation of meaning, which is then to be produced in the target language. One may argue that if something is interpretable, it is translatable. However, to be sure, translation is much more complicated than transfer of meaning, and it is also concerned with transfer of form. Meanwhile, the question of the transferability needs to be explored because it is not something that can be taken for granted in relation to translatability. If translation is acknowledged as possible, translatability is inherently implied, but it should still not be simply taken as transferrable. For translatability may well be the result of mediation and negotiation.

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