Cultural Assimilation and Hegemony: On the Translation of “Human Rights”
International Journal of Language and Linguistics
Volume 7, Issue 6, November 2019, Pages: 351-357
Received: Oct. 3, 2019; Accepted: Nov. 29, 2019; Published: Dec. 6, 2019
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Mengmeng Bo, College English Department, Shanghai Normal University, Tianhua College, Shanghai, People’s Republic of China
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This essay intends to discuss the interaction in essence between translation and culture through the translation case of “human rights”. Since translation studies have many links with historical, political and cross-cultural research, an analysis of translation will be a powerful approach to exploring the cultural assimilation and hegemony hidden behind the term “human rights”. The term of “human rights” was translated as renquan in Chinese language in the 18th century when China was experiencing a period of impoverishment and long-standing debility. Because formal and dynamic equivalences could not be found in the target language, rewriting process is involved in renquan. Individualism is “missed” in ren and quan is very likely to be misunderstood by Chinese people as “power”. As a matter of fact, the idea of “human rights” has been assimilated into contemporary Chinese culture, unleashing a rush of power in China’s politics, legislation and education, so on and so forth. Those influences not only indicate a result of cultural blending, but also reveal the existence of cultural collisions. While this concept brings advances for the Chinese nation, it is often manipulated as a cultural hegemony weapon by some Western countries. Claims about human rights of hegemonic countries sometimes are ironically conflicted with the action they take. Cultural assimilation and cultural hegemony shown in the translation case of “human rights,” give rise to the enlightenments about the evaluation of a good translator. The role of translators is never static, mostly importing foreign cultures in hard times and exporting domestic cultures in taking-off times. Besides, the translating strategy of the term “human rights” is not the fundamental reason that leads Chinese indigenous ideologies to have been influenced by the West and the translators’ role in countering against cultural hegemony seems to be very tiny, but these does not mean they can do nothing. Translators should strengthen self-efficacy and they themselves should believe their roles are able to imperceptibly attract or block readers. Lastly, translators must be fully aware of cultural self-consciousness. Great translators should strengthen their sensitivity to inter-cultural communications, being neither cringing nor arrogant about different cultures and enhancing the technological literacy in this digital era.
Human Rights, Rewriting Theories, Cultural Assimilation, Cultural Hegemony, Translators’ Role
To cite this article
Mengmeng Bo, Cultural Assimilation and Hegemony: On the Translation of “Human Rights”, International Journal of Language and Linguistics. Vol. 7, No. 6, 2019, pp. 351-357. doi: 10.11648/j.ijll.20190706.24
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