Empathy and expression in fiction translation

TAC, June 13, 2016

Editor's note: The Eighth Asia-Pacific Translation and Interpreting Forum (APTIF) will be held in Xi'an, China on June 17-18, 2016. The theme of this year's conference is "Translation and Interpreting in Tomorrow's Asia-Pacific Region." The following is a summary of the research paper submitted by Li Ming and Lu Hongmei with Guangdong University of Foreign Studies.

Title: Empathy and Expression in Fiction Translation -- Linguistic Forms as Reflections on One’s Emotional Appeals


What counts most in literary translation is empathy, a sense of shared experience, including emotional and physical feelings, with someone or something other than oneself. As far as fiction translation is concerned, the translator should on the one hand empathetically fully engage himself/herself in the source language (SL) dialogues, the SL description of characters, the SL rhetorical art, the SL situations, the SL global textual styles and the SL narrative perspectives, and on the other, in the narrative and textual conventions of the target language (TL). With reference to two translations of a segment from Lu Xun’s short story “An Incident”, the present paper analyses two translators’ different degrees of empathy in their respective translations with comments by its author and also presents remarks by experienced translators on both translation practice and translation theory to underscore the importance of empathy in the translation process.

About the author:

Li Ming, professor of Guangdong University of Foreign Studies

Lu Hongmei, associate professor of Guangdong University of Foreign Studies

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