From 'theory' to 'discourse': The making of a translation anthology


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8 Citations (Scopus)


How translatable are concepts across cultures? How do translated concepts interact with the receiving culture's repertoire of concepts and influence its prevailing mode of thinking? How do translated concepts, specifically concepts of category of knowledge such as' science',' philosophy', ' religion', etc., have an impact on the receiving culture's existing body of knowledge? This paper explores the above questions with reference to an anthology currently being compiled by the author, in English translation, of texts on Chinese thinking about translation. The initial title was 'An anthology of Chinese translation theories: from ancient times to the revolution of 1911'; this was changed to 'An anthology of Chinese thought on translation' before the present title, 'An anthology of Chinese discourse on translation', was adopted. By analysing, in a self-reflective manner, the decisions involved in the movement from 'theory' to 'thought' to 'discourse ', I hope to throw some light on the epistemological impact produced by translated concepts in the receiving culture. The impact is analysed in terms of the disciplining of knowledge that could be effected by translated concepts - disciplining in the sense of organizing, ordering, hierarchizing, including/excluding, centring/decentring, aligning and re-aligning of material deemed to constitute knowledge in the receiving culture, for the purpose of mono-cultural cross-cultural, or intercultural study. As the use of translated concepts (e.g. 'science', 'philosophy', 'religion') to name bodies of knowledge in ancient China is a common, though not uncontroversial practice, the issue of the disciplining of knowledge dealt with in this paper should be relevant not only to translation scholars but also to sinologists and Chinese scholars the world over.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)390-401+iv
Number of pages13
JournalBulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2003

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History


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