The making of a translation style
: a systemic functional investigation into the impact of Confucianism on translated texts of English fiction by contemporary Chinese translators

  • Eugenia Lawrence

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


What is the impact of ideology on translation style? In this thesis I explore this question by focusing on the impact of the Confucian ideology on stylistic choices made by contemporary Chinese translators in the translation of English fiction. Investigating the connection between style and ideology is carefully planned out by combining theoretical insights from stylistics and social linguistics as well as related translation theories. Based on my theoretical framework, five samples of translated novels in a variety of fiction genres are intensively analysed using Halliday's functional linguistic approach. My investigation has discovered that the translated novels converge in a translation style which is predominantly formal but combined with some striking culture specific features. My research has supplied ample evidence to demonstrate ideological influences on literary style in terms of genre, register and sociolect. Despite the general acceptance of Confucianism as part of the Chinese cultural heritage, its modern relevance for translation has been rarely explored. My research has identified three areas for exploration:

a) the impact of the Confucian literary genres on translation style
b) the impact of the Confucian formal register on translation style
c) the impact of the Confucian principle of elegance on translators’ aesthetic style

Although translation studies using an ideological approach is common, my research tackles a rarely explored area of study by investigating submergent ideological influences on translation behaviour. It brings fresh light on understanding how linguistic and social/cultural factors impact the translation process, and in doing so contribute towards the evaluation of some key theories related to linguistic and social explorations of translation by Nida, Even-Zohar, Toury, LevĂ˝ and Venuti. My research offers an analytical framework which can be applied to many areas of translation studies.
Date of AwardAug 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorYouxuan Wang (Supervisor), Mario Saraceni (Supervisor) & Jonathan Paul Evans (Supervisor)

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