Sneak Peek 20: Song Ge

Anthropological Translation as a Way of Rendering Minority Culture into English—A case of Chinese Calligraphy Culture


Department of Translation, Lingnan University, Hong Kong.

Abstract: From early of the twentieth century, there has emerged a systematic introduction of, and abounding publications on, Chinese calligraphy in the West in English by translating classical treatises and (re)writing Chinese calligraphy discourses based on the copiously existing translations. This article explores the process of producing these English discourses throughout the 20th century to the first decade of the 21st century, and examines how the creative English writings on Chinese calligraphy are brought out and further tinge, alter and complement the Western aesthetics.

I argue that the production of English discourses on Chinese calligraphy resembles field-works conducted by anthropologists, who, by immersing into Chinese calligraphy culture, win the trust of the indigenous elites and experience what this minority group normally experiences. The embedded cultural untranslatability, through a vigorous scrutiny, and by adding a theoretical dimension, can be tackled more meaningfully.


Bio: SONG Ge is currently a full-time PhD student in Department of Translation at Lingnan University, Hong Kong. His main research interests lie in translating Chinese texts on aesthetics into English, translating artworks of Southeast Asia, translation-related issues concerning Chinese overseas, and inter-cultural communication between Chinese and the Anglo-American cultures.