Diglossia and Intralingual Translation in Yuan and Ming Times: An Attempt at a Theoretical Approach: (Part of Panel: Intralingual Translation as an Approach to Yuan-Ming Period Textual Practices)

Abstract : Literary criticism and writing practices in the Yuan-Ming reveal that the literati of the time had a clear consciousness of the diglossic nature of written Chinese, divided between literary Sinitic and vernacular forms. In this section of the panel, the concept of “intralingual translation” will be used as an experimental tool in order to delineate some mechanisms relevant in this particular cultural and linguistic situation. Rather than a one-way relationship between source text and target text, “translation” is understood here as a complex set of transformations rooted in semiotics (Peirce/Dewey 1946, Jakobson 1959), and touching on intertextuality and levels of utterances in text production (Bakhtin, 1975). It encompasses notions of metaliterature and derived texts (Holmes 1970, Popovič 1975, Torop, 1995), with intralingual networking phenomena appearing as typical of a fundamentally blurred frontier, in premodern times, between practices of translation proper, rewriting, and commentary (Zethsen 2007, 2009, Davis 2014, Schmid 2008, Lefevere 1992). These practices hint at the consciousness of an “other language” implicitly present beneath the classical culture (Lurie 2011). This theoretical approach highlights the intrinsic unity behind apparently disparate authorial or editorial strategies, such as: new editions of well-known texts intended at opening up their meaning for new audiences, philosophical or commentarial strategies capitalizing on the tension between the letter of the text and its vernacular development, or massive recycling of wenyan sources for the production of tongsu, vernacular literature. Such phenomena are currently attracting much attention among Western as well as Chinese scholars focusing on the Yuan-Ming period. OTHER ABSTRACTS OF THE SAME PANEL: 1/4 General abstract Under the combined pressure from a new, emerging readership and the consciousness of the diglossic nature of written Chinese, the Yuan-Ming period witnesses the flourishing of a set of textual practices that share a propensity to find new ways of preserving and transmitting textual meaning in new social and discursive environments, while creating modern forms of expression. The concept of intralingual translation is a valuable approach that reveals the unity behind very diverse textual practices, and sheds light into the fundamentally linguistic component that underlie many textual endeavors characterized by such a need for resemantization. As a relatively new concept in the field of East Asian studies, intralingual translation is the object of the first presentation by Lanselle, which reviews some of its theoretical hypotheses, as well as the reasons for which their validity applies to the specific environment of the Yuan-Ming. The following three contributions each explore different facets of this language-related epistemic reconfiguration. Bisetto’s paper focuses on an example of Yuan yanyi commentary that stresses the intrinsic continuity between commentary and translation (or “auto-communication”), in relation with the notion of context. Vetrov points out the importance of vernacularization as a pervasive presence that affects the very condition of philosophical expression in thinkers who, like Wang Yangming, are in search of language accuracy. Sibau’s paper illustrates how, in the context of literary creation, intralingual translation plays a major role in the reshaping of textual sources in literary Sinitic. 2/4 Barbara Bisetto Title: Translating into meaning: paraphrasing forms in the anthology Du lü yanyi Abstract: As a scholarly genre, commentary is rooted in an awareness of the “epistemic distance” (Segre 1993) that separates a text from a context of reception. In shortening this distance, the commentator acts as a “broker of meaning” (Wagner 2015) and enables the continuous process of auto-communication that shapes the memory of a culture. Intralingual translation, in the continuum from word and phrase glosses to different levels of paraphrasing, is constitutive of commentary, to the point that, in some cases, the borders between translation (rewording) and interpretation become blurred. This paper explores the overlap of these discursive practices in the tradition of “reading by glosses” (Kin 2010) and examines instances of rewording of single couplets and portions or whole poems in the commentarial notes of the anthology Du lü yanyi杜律演義 (Explanation of the Meaning of Du Fu’s Regulated Verses) by Zhang Xing張性from the Yuan dynasty. This study describes the various forms of paraphrasing elaborated by the commentator to supplement the comprehension and the comprehensibility of the prototexts; it analyzes some examples of translative shifts formulated at the semantic and the syntactic levels of the texts; and it tries to define the parameters informing these choices in relation to possible contexts of readerships. Through exploring this set of textual strategies, this paper aims to call attention to the necessity of the dimension of “distance” and to the centrality of translation practices in the analysis of the trajectories of auto-communication in premodern culture. 3/4 Viatcheslav Vetrov Title: Robbing the Canon: Wang Yangming’s Critique of Writing Abstract: In the history of Chinese philosophy, Wang Yangming’s 王陽明 Chuanxilu傳習錄may be regarded as an outstanding instance of intralingual translation: the practice of using colloquialisms for exposing ideas which in his other works are discussed in literary Sinitic. This practice is consistent with Wang’s attitude towards writing. For him, wen 文 is a highly ambivalent concept. On the one hand, it refers to the sacred realm of the Confucian tradition. On the other, paradoxically, it appears as a means of obscuring and robbing the canon (luan jing 亂經, zei jing 賊經). His criticism of bad wen is reminiscent of the problematics in J. L. Borges’ Funes el memorioso: the issue of losing one’s spiritual focus and the control over one’s memory, to the effect that memorization turns into something purely mechanical and leads to a triumph of hypertrophied forms over meaning. Bad wen is primarily a profuse wen: it attests to vast erudition, but lacks something far more important – a belief in the necessity of fostering one’s mind. The frequent use of colloquialisms in the Chuanxilu is associated with orality, simplicity, everyday life in contrast to an elaborated elegant literary exposition. It is motivated philosophically and displays a constant resonance between formal and conceptual levels. As it is exactly this resonance which is absent in the wen under Wang’s criticism, the Chuanxilu may be regarded as a textual performance of alternatives to bad wen. 4/4 Maria Franca Sibau Title: Exemplary Biographies, Vernacular Rewriting, and the Interplay between Classical and Vernacular in Late Ming Stories Abstract: It has long been known that a great bulk of vernacular stories (huaben) from the late Ming were based on classical language sources, which have been assiduously identified over the decades following the pioneering efforts of Tan Zhengbi and others. Yet, in spite of a few seminal articles that have discussed the significance of these inter-generic adaptations, much work remains to be done. This paper examines the process of rewriting from classical to vernacular by focusing on several huaben from two late Ming collections Xingshi yan型世言 (1632) and Qingye zhong清夜鐘 (1645) by the brothers Lu Renlong陸人龍and Lu Yunlong陸雲龍. The stories represent a homogeneous group, based on classical language biographies of virtuous Ming figures attributed to prominent Ming literati. In each case, the original sources were explicitly cited and sometimes even quoted verbatim in the vernacular texts. This analysis aims to show the fruitfulness of intralingual translation as an analytical framework to illuminate the process by which the huaben redactors reworded, expanded, and recast materials from one genre and linguistic medium into another, with fundamental transformations in terms of ideology, authorial voice, and implied audience. Particularly fascinating are the cases in which the classical text is retained verbatim or quasi verbatim, such as in dialogues and final commentaries, which point to the ecumenical nature of the vernacular text on one hand, and to a strategy of connotative use of the classical for expressive purposes on the other.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, April 4, 2018 - 6:47:28 PM
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Rainier Lanselle. Diglossia and Intralingual Translation in Yuan and Ming Times: An Attempt at a Theoretical Approach: (Part of Panel: Intralingual Translation as an Approach to Yuan-Ming Period Textual Practices). Association for Asian Studies Annual Conference AAS 2018, Association for Asian Studies, USA, Mar 2018, Washington DC, United States. ⟨hal-01758869⟩

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