2018 Translation Lectures

Topic: Translating the Analects of Confucius: A Skopos-Centric Approach

In this talk, the speaker introduces his upcoming skopos-based translation of the Analects of Confucius, explaining how such an approach may complement existing English translations of the classic by temporarily sidestepping the often impenetrable historical and cultural detail that lie in the way of full comprehension, thereby providing direct access to Confucius’s moral message for those without expertise in the politics and personalities of late Zhou dynasty China. The presentation begins with an introduction to skopostheorie and its culture-sensitive, behavior-based approach to the production of a translatum, followed by an analysis of the genre, personalities, personal names, cultural assumptions, quoted works, meter, parallelisms, and syntax of the Analects and how aspects of these analytical dimensions may be preserved using a translation strategy that focuses on the production of an offer of information that is similar in nature for both source language and target language readers. The talk is then wrapped up with an update of archaeological finds relating to the Analects in the new millennium that shed light on the final two chapters of the Qi recension of the Confucian Analects, and presents, for the first time in English, a translation of fragments of Chapter 22 of the Qi Analects.

Topic: Translating the Gāthā of Bodhisattva Juélín: A Cultural Turn

In this talk, the speaker, investigating from a lay perspective, performs a close reading and linguistic analysis of the Gâthâ of Bodhisattva Juélín, which appears in multiple recensions of the Avataṃsaka Sûtra. Following an analysis of the information structure and core metaphors of the Gāthā, the speaker then goes on to introduce the shift away from meaning-based linguistic equivalence towards situation and culture-dependency in modern translation theory, and demonstrates how such a theoretical approach informs his English translation and variations of the Gâthâ, published in the journal Asia Pacific Translation and Intercultural Studies in 2017. In the process, parallels are shown to exist between the Buddhist understanding of reality, existence, creation, and mind and similar insights found respectively in the discourses of modern physics, Western art, sixties counterculture, and digital landscapes in augmented and virtual reality, which provide schemas of thinking in the English language in which to couch the Eastern metaphysical notions that the Gāthā celebrates, allowing for various different cultural angles from which to interpret the metaphors contained in the Gāthā.