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Translation Zones in Modern China: Authoritarian Command Versus Gift Exchange By Bonn ...

Chapter 1:  Introduction
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Translation Zones in Modern China:

of a commercial publishing firm who translates work that is written in a language other than the translator’s native language into the translator’s native language that is also the dominant language of the country where the work is published, distributed, and read.

In the opening chapter of The Manipulation of Literature: Studies in Literary Translation (1985), edited by Theo Hermans, Gideon Toury stated that “translators operate first and foremost in the interests of the culture into which they translate, and not in the interest of the source text, let alone the source culture”; translations, he observed, have hardly any significance in the donor culture.3 In the book’s closing chapter by André Lefevere, the same assumption is made: that translators are individuals who select their own materials for translation into their native language for the benefit of their native culture.4 Toury and Lefevere were two of the most influential figures in Western translation studies in the late twentieth century, and their assumptions continue to be widely accepted by scholars. A recent change in terminology from “source text” and “target text” to “donor text” and “host text,” respectively, is welcome for many reasons, but it also reinforces the assumption that the translated text is prepared by a native speaker of the host language in the host country.

The practice of translation in China has a long history, and translation studies in China have a short but energetic one. Very little consideration of either subject appears in Western translation studies. An encyclopedia of literary translation published in 2000 contains only one brief mention of Chinese translation practices in its general entries, although it includes a small number of entries on translations into English of Chinese works.5 A comprehensive anthology of translation studies edited by Mona Baker and published in 2010 contains only one article referring to the existence of non-European paradigms of translation in China.6

All of these works, editors, and authors are rightly held in high esteem. Nevertheless, there are substantial gaps in their shared assumptions and the attention they give to the world outside of Europe and America.

The Foreign Languages Press (FLP) in Beijing is an example of an institution that operates on a significantly different, non-European model