22 February 2009
Dream of the Red Chamber
In a corpus-based comparative study of Chinese to English translations done by first-language Chinese speakers and texts written by first-language English speakers, Guangsa Jin of Peking University, China, admits that "it is difficult to find comparable material for fictional works usually containing many cultural elements which are unique to a nation. Surely, one cannot find an English novel which is comparable to the Chinese novel Dream of the Red Chamber (《红楼梦》)." This remark points to a shortcoming of most translation studies: they focus only on the linguistic aspects of translation and not the literary aspects. This shortcoming also works the other way: literary critics that study texts written by second-language speakers often focus on the literary aspects and fail to take into account the linguistic aspects. This gap between linguistics and literary criticism has long existed and makes the work of evaluating second-language literary texts unnecessarily difficult.