讲座题目：Norms of Translating Culture – a Case of Food Labels Translation between English and Chinese
主讲嘉宾：Prof. Saihong Li（University of Stirling, U.K.）
主 持 人：宫齐 教授
Dr. Saihong Li joined the University of Stirling in September 2013, as Associate Professor in Translation Studies and Programme Director in Translation Studies and Translation with TESOL. Dr. Saihong Li Currently supervises five PhD students on Translation and Interpreting studies at Stirling. Dr. Li has extensive publications both in China and in Europe. From 2010 to 2013, Dr. Li worked as Lecturer in Interpreting and Translation Studies in the Chinese section of the School of languages at the University of Salford. In 2011 Dr. Li was nominated as Chair of Research Ethics Committee at College of Art and Social Science. She also served as Programme Director for UWLP (the University-wide language programme) at Salford. In 2003, Dr. Saihong Li was appointed as Associate Professor of Linguistics at Dalian Maritime University, China. From 1991 to 2003, she taught English and linguistics in Liaoning University, Beijing Foreign Studies University and Dalian Maritime University, China. Between 2005 and 2010, Dr. Li worked in Denmark while pursuing her doctoral research. She taught English Grammar and Linguistics, Business Chinese, Chinese language and linguistics, Chinese History and Cultural Studies, in various Danish universities: the University of Copenhagen, the Copenhagen Business School, and the University of Southern Denmark. In 2006 Dr. Li was awarded a doctoral stipend, by the Danish Government, for research in Translation and Lexicography. She held a post in the Department of English, Germanic and Romance Studies at the University of Copenhagen; her Ph.D. was awarded in 2009.
Dr. Li’s diverse research interests fall broadly within the fields of Applied Linguistics, Interpreting and Translation Studies, lexicography and Second Language Acquisition. Her doctoral research focused on comparative studies in Translation and Lexicography, working with English, Chinese and Danish. She has recently published a book with Cambridge Scholars Press: To Define and Inform – An Analysis of Information Provided in Dictionaries Used by Learners of English. Currently, her research projects include:
1. A Study of Learning Chinese as a SL making use of Eye-Tracking technology.
2. A study of food labels and the possibility of inter-cultural confusion.
3. Global English Communication Gap.
4. A socio-linguistic study of the bilingual policies implemented by the Chinese Government in the Xinjiang region. This project involves comparative study of other societies and nations in which bilingualism is official policy.
A European businessman or diplomat in a restaurant in China may find it difficult to order the food using this example of a translated menu; 'chicken without sexual life’, ‘shrimps fuck the cabbage', 'red burn lion heads' and 'government abused chicken'. These examples of translating conflicts or confusion in food culture which hinder communication are assumed not to be an issue in settings involving any qualified or certified translator/interpreter. Professional interpreters and translators are seen as ‘functionally bilingual’ with a high degree of competence in the grammatical and semantic properties of two or more languages; they will rapidly return a sensible translation that removes the sort of amusing literality illustrated above. However, as Hofstede noted in his seminal work on cultural dimensions, ‘Culture is more often a source of conflict than of synergy. Cultural differences are a nuisance at best and often a disaster’ (Hofstede, 1980). Amusing conflicts in food ordering are merely an illustration of an increasingly important issue in globalised business and diplomacy; that the cultural context of language and the individual cultural background of the users of that language is as important as the actual words used.
The present study intends to investigate the food labels translation between English and Chinese and the possibility of inter-cultural confusion. It will discuss the different expectations of accuracy and detail in the description of what’s in the jar; and some of the commercial and ethical issues raised by this extremely important but little-studied field of translation. My concern will be focussed on the cultural factors that impact on the work of translators and interpreters between English and Chinese in food label translation. My starting point is the question that is seldom asked: ‘What is one language?’ ‘Is English one language? Is Chinese?’ Language can be seen as a key feature of culture. China is a vast country with a common written language but many varieties of spoken language and diverse cultural norms and practices. English is spoken around the world and ranges from standard ‘RP’ through American, Australian, business English and Pidgin. These New Englishes (McArthur, 2001, p. 36) are closely linked to their own cultural assumptions, practices and beliefs, all of which are of great significance in developing translating and interpreting. There are vast differences in cultural value, and in cultural assumptions, between an ‘English’ translator from Chinese who has an American background and accent and one who has an Indian background. The present study will enable effective consideration of the nature of the impacts of poor cultural translation on food labels and thus bring serious global implication between language and culture: nothing less than this is at stake in food labels translation.