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Becoming Equivalent

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Tracking the Chinese Renditions of “Discourse”

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This paper examines the introduction of “discourse” into China by looking into the different usages and interpretations of the word: what discourse currently is (话语 – a new coinage); what it used to be (语篇 – a largely superseded rendition, an assimilation); what it could be (other forms of transliteration, assimilation and Japanese-based renditions); and what it arguably should be (说力 – a new coinage). The paper discusses accordingly how Western critical concepts travel into China, how different modes of translation alter their meanings, and what translation strategy should best be employed to facilitate conceptual exchanges between the West and China. Additionally, the paper traces back a well-hidden Japanese “gene” in a majority of Chinese cultural concepts, discloses the conceptual flaws in Chinese renditions, and recommends an informed strategy for translating Western critical cultural concepts into Chinese.

Affiliations: 1: School of Humanities and Languages, University of New South Wales SydneyAustralia


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