Zhu Chunshen

Bionote of Prof. Zhu Chunshen






Zhu Chunshen received his PhD from the University of Nottinghamin 1993. He is currently a Professor at the City University of Hong Kong, and an editorial board member for Chinese Translators Journal and ITT. His research interests include translation studies, poetics, applied linguistics, stylistics, and machine-aided teaching of translation. His research has been published since1985 in journals such as Chinese Translators Journal, British Journal of Aesthetics, META, Target, Multilingua, TTR, Journal of Pragmatics, and ITT, and has won the Stephen C. Soong Translation Studies Memorial Award for three times (2000, 2001, and 2006).                             




Plenary Speech by Prof. Zhu Chunshen


Title: Critical and constructive thinking refined in translation: With special reference to the conception of xin-da-ya in English


Abstract: This talk will begin with a brief overview of how Yan’s (1896) trinity of xin-da-ya, conventionally glossed as faithfulness-expressiveness-elegance in English, has been hailed asa universal principle for translation in the Chinese tradition of translation studies (TS), and constantly and often uncritically used by scholars andstudents to assess translations of various genres and subjects. The overview is followed by a critique of the utilitarian tendency such a state of affairs indicates, which is regarded as unconducive to nurturing critical thinking in translation research and education. And exegetic investigations to establish the philological origins of the trinity reflect more of an interest in documentary archaeology than conceptual exploration for its theoretical implications. Similarly, approaches that take issue with the da and/or ya are more judgmental than critical in nature, often resulting in proposals for replacing them with certain termsthat tend to be equally ill-defined. We will then examine the trinity by firstly referring it back to Yan’s (1896) text for his original description of the three notions and, secondly, to their English translations to observe the possibility of reconceptualization of the trinity beyond the Chinese terminology. Informed by contemporary understanding of translation and from a constructive and holistic perspective, we will characterize this foundational tenet in Chinese TS as an analytical framework of truthfulness, accessibility and appropriateness for describing translation process rather than evaluating products. It will be argued that by such descriptive-analytical approach, it is the explanation of discrepancy rather than similarity between source and target text that should offer more critical insight into the realities of the translation profession to prepare our students for the world.