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Huang, Z. (2000): On Translation Variation (in Chinese), Beijing, China Translation and Publishing Corporation.

  • Xu Jianzhong

…more information

  • Xu Jianzhong
    Shaanxib University of Science and Technology, Xianyang, Shaanxi, China

Article body

The mainstream of translation, down through history, is translation pure and simple, which is called full or formal translation. But another important part of translation, translation variation, remains unstudied. It is noted that in the 21st century, this main stream is becoming less dominant and giving way to translation variation because of copyright, and other factors.

We know at least something about translation variation, but translation circles, being interested in the “formal” ways of translation, have ignored its importance and regard it as “informal” or heterodox. Actually translation variation is not “new” at all. In translating foreign cultural thought, translation variation was and is used frequently, and will be used more in the future. However, most researchers do not pay close attention to it, and it needs further study.

On Translation Variation (hereafter referred to as TV) issues the challenge to develop a new field in translation research from a practical standpoint, i.e., stressing “how”. TV’s arguments are penetrating. It defines translation variation as an activity aimed at deriving the theme or partial contents of the original version by using the appropriate adaptations such as expansion, deletion, summarization, explanation, supplement, combination and reformation in the light of the special needs of the readers. If the full translation methods are regarded as the microcosmic ways, the translation variation is a macroscopic translation one. Full translation conveys the contents of information, but is restricted by the form of the information. Translation variation supplies a set of adaptive ways, giving translators free rein to their subjective initiatives. TV argues that it is translation variation that embodies the value of translation because for target readers the greatest value of translation is to absorb foreign cultures. Absorbing is not simply equal to full translation. It is hard to totally absorb the original version (foreign cultures), and sometimes unnecessary. It is only by adaptations that translators can capture the theme of the original and change it into their own. So far, translation variation meets the need for adaptations.

TV is creative. In the light of translation practices in history and at present, it sums up eleven translation varieties. They are selective translation, translation and editing, translated narration, condensed translation, translated summarization, summarized translation commentary, translated commentary, explanatory translation, translation rearrangement, translation and writing, and reference translation. And TV is sure that there will be more translation varieties in the future.

TV is well organized. It is composed of twelve chapters. Chapter One is the introduction to translation variation, and the other eleven chapters (2-12) probe into eleven translation varieties respectively. Each chapter is composed of four parts: a) analysis of a translation variety, b) basic approaches to the translation variety, c) basic principles to the translation variety, and d) brief summary of the chapter. TV is well organized and introduces new ideas.

To sum up, the book under review is extremely useful and it is a very good try.