Subjectivity Identification: A Case Study of Chinese-to-English Translation of Hakka Proverbs

Chung-ling Shih


This paper proposes some strategies for translating Hakka proverbs from Chinese into English. Unlike the previous scholarship, this research emphasizes the identification of the subjectivity of source culture and the subjectivity of translator by investigating the English translations of eighty Hakka proverbs, randomly collected from Hakka websites, using source-oriented strategies and annotations. Drawing on L. Venuti’s (1995) foreignization translation and K. A. Appiah’s (1993) thick translation as the theoretical framework, this research discussed how proverb translation could send the audience toward the source culture and how in-text annotations rendered the translation contextually thicker and revealed the translator’s opinions. The results of investigation showed that in order for source cultural attributes to be vividly replicated, some strategies can be used including: 1) literal translation with grammatical modification and 2) literal translation with syntactic, grammatical and lexical modifications. In addition, for the translator to unveil his/her subjectivity, the strategies can be: 1) supplementing explanations and 2) adding a commentary note to the literal translation. The strategies together help proverb translation take on the new significance of dual subjectivity by demonstrating the true identity of the source culture on the one hand and exposing the translator’s own voice on the other hand.

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International Journal of English Linguistics   ISSN 1923-869X (Print)   ISSN 1923-8703 (Online)   E-mail:

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