Translating Chinese Place Names into English: The Case of Lin Yutang’s Version of Fusheng Liuji

Shuangchang Cui, Baorong Wang


Chapter Four of Fusheng Liuji (Six Chapters of a Floating Life), a unique autobiographical prose work by early Qing-dynasty author Shen Fu (1763-1825), records Shen's travel to many parts of the country and contains a multitude of place names, whose rich cultural connotations pose a great challenge to the translator. Drawing on Javier Franco Aixelá’s taxonomy of translation strategies for treating culture-specific items, this paper attempts to describe the translation strategies adopted by world-renowned writer and translator Lin Yutang to handle these place names. An analysis of twenty-four examples indicates that Lin tended to preserve Chinese culture carried by the place names through employing cultural conservation strategies, including linguistic translation, transliteration, transliteration plus linguistic translation, transliteration plus annotation, and linguistic translation plus annotation. Furthermore, Lin occasionally resorted to such cultural substitution strategies as absolute universalization and domestication. It is concluded that on the whole Lin adopted a source-oriented approach to translation when working on Shen Fu's work. This study sheds fresh light on Lin's selection of translation strategies in the early years of his lifelong career as “a native interpreter of Chinese culture for Western readers”.

Keywords: Place Names, Chinese Culture, Lin Yutang, Translation Strategies

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