A Case Study of the Translation of the Moon and Sixpence

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Cultural difference was used to be seen as an impassable gap between intercultural communications, but that was when people from various cultures didn’t get the chance to communicate. With the development of internet and transportation, people have become closer to each other and known better about other people’s cultures. Nowadays, culture has been even seen as a way to solve problems in the process of translation. Translators combine their linguistic strategies with cultural knowledge in translating and offer readers a chance to feel the foreignness with their mother language. This essay is going to talk about how translation problems are solved with the help of cultural awareness, and a case study will be done later after an introduction of some translation concepts that will be applied in this discussion.
The case study will be based on a novel called The Moon and Sixpence, which is one of William Somerset Maugham’s most famous novels and was first published in 1919. It tells a story about dream. The protagonist of the story is a middle-aged man called Charles Strickland, whose passionate and brilliant inside was concealed by his ordinary and plain appearance for more than forty years. During the years, he worked hard as a stockbroker and supported his family. Everything went well until one day when he left a note saying “dinner is ready” and then ran away from his home----he left for the pursuit of his dream, painting, and never came back. There are two published Chinese translations of this work, one was translated by Fu Weici in 1981 (《月亮和六便士》), and the other was translated by Chen Yixuan and published recently in 2013 (《月亮与六便士》). In the recently translated version, a large number of Chinese four-chara...

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...nese four-character idioms will lead to contradiction in meaning and even misunderstanding of the translation.
In a word, owing to the great advantages such as compactness and vividness, the using of four-character idioms in English to Chinese translation should always be recommended in appropriate situations. They are the mirrors through which the Chinese readers can see another culture.

Works Cited

Maugham, William. The Moon and Sixpence. Surrey: Windmill Press, 1935. Print.
Munday, Jeremy. Introducing Translation Studies. London: Routledge, 2001. Print.
Venuti, Lawrence. The Translator’s Invisibility. London: Routledge, 2008. Print.
Collins English Dictionary Online. Collins, 2014. 20 April 2014.

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