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Face Management in Literary Translation – Chinese translations of Sense and Sensibility

Xiaohui Yuan 1

1University of Nottingham

Irregular Papers

ABSTRACT

Face constitutes an important interpersonal component via which people manage rapport with each other dependent on their interactional goals. Face behaviour throughout the course of an interaction can indicate or manifest an interlocutor’s personality, attitude and intentions. The paper focuses on investigating how face is depicted in Sense and Sensibility where interpersonal dynamics feature and lead the plot, and how face is represented in the Chinese translation by Cheng Wei’an. Using three excerpts and their translation as data, it is found that interpersonal face markers are sometimes omitted or toned down in the translation, and bald-on-record face strategies changed into off-record manners or redressed with concerns of hearers’ negative or positive face wants. This, I claim, may impact on a reader’s interpretation of interlocutors’ personality, attitude and intentions. The change of face features in literary translation, however, cannot fail to communicate a different idea of the personality of the characters in the literary work and of their attitudes towards each other. Therefore, this suggests that there is more work to do in literary translation from the perspective of face portrayal in order to assist readers from target cultures to better appreciate individual characters in the way that writers endeavour to portray and present to their readers. The difference may be due to the translator having adopted cultural filters to achieve naturalness in translating prefabricated orality, avoiding translationese. I further suggest that reader response tests could be carried out to provide evidence of translation impact on reader’s interpretation.

Citation status

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