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On Limit of Translatability in Humorous Utterance Translation from the Perspective of Relevance Theory

Author: ZhaoZuo
Tutor: ZhouLingShun
School: Yangzhou University
Course: Foreign Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
Keywords: humorous utterance translation relevance theory limit of translatability the optimal relevance Fortress Besieged
CLC: H315.9
Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2011
Downloads: 50
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Abstract


This thesis explores the issue of limit of translatability in humorous utterance of Fortress Besieged in the light of Relevance Theory. As a pragmatic theory interpreting communication, it was put forward by Sperber and Wilson in1986.According to RT, translation consists of two ostensive-inferential processes, and three parties are involved:the source text author, the translator and the target text reader. In the first ostensive-inferential process, the source text author manifests his intention to the translator who perceives and infers the source text author’s intention according to the contextual information of source text and the principle of relevance, and arrives at interpretation of the source text. In this process, the translator plays the role of an audience, and the main task for him is to engage in inferential communication. In the second ostensive-inferential communication, the translator has to go ahead to convey the source text author-intended interpretation to the target text readers with the consideration of the cognitive environment, the expectation and cognitive abilities of target text readers. In turn, target text readers infer from the translation and elicit the intended interpretation of source text. Thus, the success of a translation is decided by the success of the two processes.Nevertheless, due to the tremendous differences in language and culture, the optimal relevance cannot be achieved in all translations and the limit of translatability occurs.Fortress Besieged is acclaimed as one of the greatest contemporary Chinese novels. Actually, the story plot is very simple, but the novel is so highly praised because of its abundant cultural significances, stylistic excellence in employing satire and humor, and encyclopedic features and erudition. What is more, the "direct translation"(literal translation) method is extensively adopted in its English translation. The question whether the optimal relevance can be achieved in the translation of humorous utterance with unique Chinese features needs a careful study.The author of the thesis studies the limit of translatability from two aspects. They are language, culture. The study indicates that the optimal relevance may not be achieved due to various reasons and the limit of translatability does exist.Based on the case study, the author of the paper holds that two solutions can be used to minimize the limit of translatability, namely direct translation, indirect translation.In conclusion, the author points out that direct translation should be given priority in the translation of relatively untranslatable humorous utterance. Relevance theory offers the sufficient and powerful theoretic explanation to the translation of humorous utterances. The prospect of humorous utterance translation is bright from the perspective of relevance theory. In the practice, the translator must strive to turn "untranslatability" into "translatability" to promote the cross-cultural exchange and share the resources of culture in the world.

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CLC: > Language, writing > FOREIGN > English > Translation
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