function and application of descriptive translation studies
the intention of this study is to explore possible advantages of
descriptive translation studies as in its application in translation practice
and translation analysis.
since early 20th century, translation studies gradually broke away from the
marginal status within other related disciplines and established itself as an
empirical science. from then on, schools of thought have kept coming out and
each claims its legitimacy for existence. among these schools is descriptive
translation studies (dts).
dts approaches translation from an empirical perspective. translation is
viewed to be a social activity having significant importance in the receiving
culture and for the target community. therefore, translation is dealt with
beyond the linguistic realization and language comparison, and is incorporated
in social and cultural context.
my attention was first directed to dts by its peculiar characteristic of
observation, description and explanation. the subject is whatever happens in
translation practice, from the determination of prospective function of
translation to the process of translator’s choice of strategies, brainstorming
and the revision, to the final product making appearance in the target
the method of dts is basically descriptive. the prescriptive tendency and
the problem-solution pattern is abandoned. translation phenomena are noted down.
with accumulated data, some underlying truths about translation will come out
which will prove to be instructive not only for theoretical probe but also for
applied translation practice. i will apply this descriptive method in the case
study of this thesis.
a convenient tool has been set up to conduct dts. “norm” is operative at
every stage of description and explanation. function, process and product and
their relationship as well are skeletal structure of what constitute descriptive
studies. translation phenomena are accounted for with the help of norm.
the case taken in this thesis is the chinese classic the dream of red
mansions. two english versions translated respectively by yang hsien-yi and
david hawks are compared and observations are made in regard to their
in this regard, my observations are limited to several aspects, i hope
in-depth observation and explanation will done in light of dts.
2.1 development and major concepts of dts
in this part i will describe holms’ basic map of dts and the relationship
between function, process and product. i will also discuss some important
concepts such as pseudo-translation, multiple translation, translationese, norm
i will in this part discuss the methodology of dts before i apply the same
to the case study in this thesis with emphasis to be placed on semiotic approach
and the concept norm.
2.3 dts in contrast to other theories
a contrast study will be conducted here with the objective to find the
difference of dts from other theories such as equivalence theory and the chinese
xin da ya criteria. some advantage will possibly be shown in this study.
2.4 case study
in this part, translation of the dream of red mansions (also translated as
the story of the stone) will be under investigation in light of dts. translation
samples to be quoted here will be selected at random.
based on the above elaboration of dts and the case study, possible
conclusion will be on the advantage of dts in specific study of translation.
suggestions on further research efforts will be made also.
(note: while the topic will remain the same, the above arrangement of
contents is subject to change in the process of writing.)