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I IO

Vladitnir Nabokou
NOTES

r, "Problems of Translation: Onegin in English," Parti'san Reaierts, XXll (rqSS),496-512. in Volume z. Letourneur's initial version is Hamlet, Prince de Dannemarcft -fwo, Pushkin writing \n 1823, when t779. Paris, Oeuvres, of Shakespeare's 5 tonsulted tlre rSzr edition (Volume r of Oeuares compl|rcs, revised by Guizot and Pichot). 3. Gresset, Vert-aert, 1734; Party, Souvenir, in Posies rotiques, 1778; Bertin, Elgie ll Catilie, r785; Ducis, Epitre l'arniti, t786. 4. The senrence is completely botched in John Butr's execrable English version of Cand.ide in the Penguin series, r947, unfortunately used in }Iumanities courses.

SOME REFLECTIOI{S ON TI-IE DIFFICUI-TY OF TR.AISLATION


,dCHILLES FANG

All a man ever thoughr would go onto a half sheet of norepaper. The rest is application and elaboration.
THe pnoslen of translation rnay be ueated from three angles: adequate comprehension of the manslated text, adequate rnanipulation of the language translated into, and what happens in between. The last question properly belongs to linguistic psychology, of which I know little. The second quesdon has been ueated eloquently by Matthew Arnold in the

Iast century (On Tianslating Homer) ancl by Ezra Pound in the present (Notes on Elizubethan Classicists znd Translators of Greek); I do not see any wzy of adding to their excellent studies on the subiect of the style of

translation.l

All studies on the problem of translation take it for granted that the translator has comprehended the language and thought ofhis text. But comprehension is not an easy thing, as we all know through bitter experiences. Especially so in Chinese, a language reputedly invented by the devil to prevent the spread of the Gospel in the Middle l(ngdom. Besides, as D. G. Rossemi once wrote, "a translation remains perhaps the most direct form of commentary." Hence it may not be irrelevant to treat the first problem of translation in this paper.
1.
Tbst and Protest
J'estime les Danois et leurs dents de fer.

When a professional phonologist reads * + +r7 fis as Liu shu yin kn piao in place of Liu shu yin yn piao or when the greatest of all
Sinologists endrles his magnum opus Les Mrnoires historiques instead of Les Mmtoires du (or d'un) lgrand) historien, we should remind ourselves that Beniamin Jowett occasionally "mistranslated" d. We should not put thcm in thc srunc class with Rapaud of the Institut F. Brossard who rrnuscs rrs with his origin:rl rcrrrlition of tirueo Danaos, donaferentrs (sce Cic<rrge: rlu Mrrrrrit'r,'l'fu A'lnrtiaz). 1'hc phonologist ("thc world's autlrority rn Arrcicnt l,'lr'l,l:u;tcrrr Art" ltccorilirrg tr:r Ncrv York bool<rlt'llt'r) rr,:rs llt'r'lr:rlls rrrtt'rttrortllly pr:rcticing tlrt':lrt ()[ (l('('('l)tiort lrt'klvcrl

ttz

Achilles Fang

The Difficuhy

of

Translation
IJin

r3

of chinese arr-dealers; and the sinologist probably was following the inaccurate but tradition-hallowed interpretation of the title. It is reasonable to believe drat these two eminent scholars sinned with their eyes open; at least they have earned the benefit of a doubt. On rhe other hnd, when so eminent a iapanese student of Sinology
as Professor Shionoya, an ordinariu.r and himself a practicing Poet ld chinois or at least a versatile versifier, misleads and continues to mislead (in edition after edition) his readers widr a totally impossible interpreta-

Furthermore, Ho-shang-kung's commentary quoted in make the point still more explicit:

seems to

*., -,n

-,

F'l z. ',2- tl.i,

i,ta1 *,

* &, *'*t, *v.

tion of the second line in an almosr pellucid poem of Yan Ch'en's 7u 44 . l&' ' * a t\ A 4h q l> *fl Af 1'l t1i(" *

*) E iA ,tfi tfia$ i?i"?.o *Y,t* /- /-

** ul'at

* rl.Mtt * {-'rfl afr -&- t $ t'-4\al A A- n[ -< ]'? 7i 1, i.-,

AII that the couplet purporrs ro say is that a true philosopher need not be a walking encyclopedia and that a man of encyclopedic learning is not necessarily a true philosopher, After giving the couplet a Chestertonian twist, "The knowing one is no scholar. The scholar is ignoranr," our translator rurns to his oracle: "The knowing one is the knowing Toist. The unleamed one comprehends unity ar rhe origin. The scholar sees and hears much, but as he is ignorant, he loses what is important and true." His uanslation of the l-lin quorarion is no less original: "'W'ho
knows To and preserves unity is surely no scholar. As he sees and hears much, he loses what is more imporrant. Therefore he is ignorant." It looks as though the translator could not see the gloss for paraphrase, or the pedant for the preacher. A Chin dynasty poet wrote a touching poem on "The Desecration of dre Han 'fombs," in which occurs the line: 4k-**-e_- *r.. A remarkably competent anslator renders it as "Of earth they have carried away more than one handful" (second edition: "crurnbled" for "carried away") and inf,orms his readers in a footnote, o'In the early days of the dynasty a man stole a handful of earth from the imperial rombs, and was executed by the police. The emperor was furious at the lighrness of the punishment." (Second edition: "In the early days of the Han dynasty a man who stole one handful of earth from the Imperial Tombs was put to death.") The story refers to Shik-chi 102 (or Hwt-shu 50), where it is told that when the chief iustice of the empire, Chang Shih-chih, sentenced to death a man who stole a iade ring from the temple of the founder of the Han dynastl, the emperor Wen-ti was furious et the lightness of the sentence and wanted to exterminate the man's entire family, but that Chang Shih-chih stood firrn on rhe text of the criminal code and uied to make the emperor reasonable by asking him what severer serltence remained to mete out to theman who should (Heaven forbid, #r * ) carry aw^y a handful of earth from rhe tomb of the later empcror, upon which the emperor had to sadsfy himself with confirming thc original sentence. As commentators agree, the phrase "to carry away a handful of carth" is a cuphcmism for "to desecrate the imperial tomb." 'I'hcrc is no rlrrcstiorr of anylmrly's desecrating thc tomb "in the early tl:tys" of thc I lrrr tlynrrsty. I l<rrv, tlrcrr, tlo rrlrsrrrtlirics likc tlrt:sc crn'rc lrlxrrrt? [.opstts cilomi? I)cficicrrt'y irr lovcP ()r (ls St. Jolrrr of thc (lros,s worrltl lr:rvt: s:ritl) un no sl

we cannot but raise our eyebrows. The line in question simply-means that after his wife's death the poet gave away her dresses one after another (to her friehds and relatives) until almost all of them disappeared and that he could not bear to open her sewing basket with its needles and thread simply because he found the reminder painful' MM' Bynner and Kiang render the line thus:
Almost all your clothes have been given away; Your needle work is sealed, I dare not look at it.

The sentiment can be understood by anyone who has, inter alia, read the two really sentimental stolies of Elizabeth Villiers and Elinor Forester in Mrs. ieicestef s School.But Professor Shionoya, who seems to be characteristically "deficient in love,"2 cannot understand such a human sentiment. Instead he paraphrases the line , .r r" ', )" l. ttr' r, h i.'H- e A of Tho-U+hizg the well-known translator Edward Erks seems to have surPassed all his past originalities: instead of taking Ho-shang-kung's glosses as glosses, he .reads them as homiletics. Foi example, the simple sentence *"* z: +S, +4 # t'*" (chap. Bl) should not puzzle even a tyro provided that he knows how to t."i" thc four charaiters in his clicrionary. Nor shoulcl a sophisticatcd ryro worry himsclf to tlcatlt ove r tlris colplct, for ottr transllttor's or:tclt: is lrritc cxplicit:z ),,, li ;|1 /,,rti .' I 1. r'f l,i ',r' '1 rt" '
|

^ In a recent English translation

= &tfu*",vl

l'-+

, i )i 4f

+,{n--,' tu:^,t'u"

I l.

.l/

3 {, r'q'l , i . ', t1 '1. {' *


).

tr',

rr+

Achilles Fartg

The Difi.culty of
sage before he is perfectly satisfied

Translation

rr5

qui? It. is easy to say that there is such a thing as sheer incompetence in iomprehending a foreign language and a system of alien and ofren "subversive" thoughts enmeshed in that language, and to prescribe a strict and sensible regimen in the Sinological techniques to cure such a malady. But the *atter goer a bit deeper than that. For the so-called Chinese language is a really froward child, a rnost recalcitrant thing in the hand of the logical-minded. The Literary Revolution may be viewed as in part an aftemPl to eliminate some of its recalcitrance. The original proglam for that revolution was something far more comPrehensive in scope than a mere resroration of the spoken language s the literary medium, for it demanded that all alluiions, clich6s, parallelism, srock-in-trade emotions, and ancient tradition be thrown overboard; it insisted on grammar, content, and colloquialisms. Eut the revolution started a bit too late for the students of Chinese literature. Practically every important piece of writing dating before 1916 (and even some subsequent to that date) abounds in-allusions, clich6s, parallelism, stock-in-trade emotions, and ancient tradition with little grammar and sometimes with less content to speak of. (It is in a way a blessing in disguise that colloquialisms were not the order of the day; which of us do not groan when we try to read Yan drama, written in the dead colloquial speech of the time?) In fact, "obscurity, erudition, allusiveness , . . ." as a critic in Partisan Reaietts describes the modernist poerry of Europe and Arnerica, have always characterized Chinese literary style. T, E. Hulme, the ancestor of Imagism and Amygism, once wrote: "Personally I am of course in favor of the complete destruction of all verse more than wenty years old." If there had been a dozen or more Ch'in-shih-huang-ti (First Emperor of all China, burner of the books), the state of Chinese literature could have been rnore accessible to Sinological comprehension. But there was only one Ch'in-shih-hualg-ti. And, by the nature of things, it is doubtful if more than one could have been tolerated. As Hulme continues' "But that hrPPy event will not, I am afraid, take place until Flato's desire has been realized and a minor poet has become dictator." (Ferhaps Ch'in-shih-huang-ti was a minor
Poer.)

with the text and can explain every word in it. He must, furtherrnore, look into variant editions and compare the basic text with the fragments and excerpts as quoted elsewhere, such as T'ai-p'ing Y-lan, etc. It is very fortunate that a Iarge number of Chinese texts are duplicated: a huge segment of Han-sku is almost, but not quite, identical wirh Shih-ci, which in its turn overlaps with many
pre-Ch'in texts; there are also two T'ang-sltu, two Wu-tai-skih, and two Yan-shih. A translator has to cornpare his text with a parallel Passage in other books before he is entitled to feel stisfied with his comprehension. He must furthermore make a thorough study of all available scholia. Ti.ue, most of them are rather silly and stuffy; yet a translator will profit much if he assesses them for what they are worth. In shorr, a uanslator must comprehend not only his text but also its numerous glosses, actual and possible. Ifhe cannot understand the language ofthe scholiasts, he would be well advised to postpone his translation until he is competent in this respect. Tke, for example, the sentence: &$L'alutfi t*i 6 L , al *o + 6 l{ t1..

It is translated: "You may say that they didn't go the right way about their business, but you rnust know that it is really the fault of the
times." What the passage means is that the two men who applied their ingenuity to the invention of bagateiles like the opium lamp and the smoking pipe were misguided, hence they deserved to remain in obscurity, and yet it is to be conceded that, had they been cidzens ofEurope or America, they could have made themselves famous by their inventions. It definitely does not mean that they were ignorant of, the value of publicity. The phrase )* l*t :i: $, of course, alludes ro Hsn-tzu *a i*): *'<*rt a1 -t" i6,.., -J#,u' 7l ?u l$ t*i, ^ fl aJ l*?,4*i E 16r ,,:' q, g,l fil -,Na x) f,- /i&..',,o' t* F*.,do,c. 4*tS, *{t # & Z 4 +L_

(*

2. Tbxt and
Pc nsi ort ro

Context
sn p pittrtro.

ptrrh t n ou

A trultslrrtor rlaust contl)l'clrcntl llrc lcxt ltc is trrltslrtting irr tllt, lilllrt tlI ils <lrvrr c()ntcxr lrs wt'll lts ol'tlrlrt rl'otlrt't'tcxts. I Ie t':tttttol Irc l,r, lirrlrt lt' ;rlxrrrt tlris tnlltt(.t'; it w,rrrIl lx'rrr,tlritr11 slrotI ol'firlly to tlrtllslrll('ll l)lls

The meaning of the original text may come out more accurately in: "You may blamc them for their rnisguided intelligence, yet you will have to agree with mc that their obscurity was due to a lack of opportunity." fhis souncls a Iittle non sequitur, but this is what rvas intended. Anothcr instrrrctivc, cxenrplc is the passage l. ',lt'^,, ,,, li rt,, k .r1, .{, c,.l; 'i, ,
tntnr-lrrtctl lrs lirllorr,"-: "/\ rrrrrrr rvill tlit' filr rltt, rttc rvlto ltppl't't'ilttt's ltirtt; rr w()nr:lrr rvill lrr':rrrtrl\,lrr'r'','ll li,r'tlrc,,,tt.' 11,ltr Plt':trtt's lt,'r."'l'lrt'tt'xt,

tt6

Achilles Fang

The Difficulty of

Translation

t17

found in shih-chi 86, is derived from chan-kuo li'a (chao-ts'e). ssu-ma Ch'ien himself uses this sentence in his letter to Jen An, where he alters ,'L to )fl (seeWm-hsan 4l; the letter is also in Han-shu 62, where the two fi are omimed). Whether 'll, means "to please *:'l .ot "to be pleased in me" is a minor point, but the translaror could have been

, Ui, more painstaking nd accurate' L Hsiang's paraphrase + e, A z, *" A ,, f+, i . (in Wen-hsan) definitely shows that the trrnrlro, may be revised, ". . A woman will beautify herself for the

man who is pleased in her." Why not even "for her lover"? of course it is not an easy matter to evaluate glosses and commentaries. Some of the Ch'ing scholars have thrown much lighr on ancient rexts; hence a sdent of, ,ry, the Shih, must acquaint himself with Ch,en Huan's contributionr. Iiot it is quite likely that the writer of the text the anslaror is interested in, and who is quoting the shih, may not have follou,ed or anticipated Ch'en Huan's interpretations; he may have been a follower of Chu Hsi. In other words, the translator must decide which interpreration rhe writer had in mind when he adopted the par-

ticular S/zilz passage. Another serioui task for the translator is to be critical of his text. The sentence' lt iil". &'fi n-+,iog )F * is nonsensical; it cannot be translated. But a translator has interpreted the Passage as: "On one occasion rhey were looking at a picture of the emperor shr:n gazing.at text does not make sense, the [his wives] E-horng and N-ying." As the trrnrlrtor oght to-hrr," emended it before translaring. The emendation should be made on the basis of the original Ts'ao Chih text: either as , lX,lX. ,e-)& fi Z a*, t1- f^ g * .ii ("On one occasion she was looking at picmres in his company: they were inspecting the portraits of the E.iper Shun [and his *rolrrg.i, when they saw the portrait of EJruan and N-ying") as in T'ai-p'ing Y-lary ot as

Now the empress Ma was nor the consort of Kuang wu Ti.but of his ,o" lvfing Ti, hence the character eI here. The text seems to be derived Yf;;; ," ""rrry of Ts'ao Chih (now existing in excerpt s in T'ai-p'ing /u r\ does lanl37 r.,d'zso and l-wm Lei-ch 74), where the telltale nor occur. (The translator could have looked into Giles's Biographical p;-sy;6nany, iti.f, he seems to be familiar with, under No. 1471, "Ma FIou" .t', where the informadon is correctly given')-ui'' then' i,borrrom of Ming-ti and canonized 'Virtuous.' " Furthermore, lneans u in the canonizatiori is supposed to mean ! s'b" 'r -1; (i'"'' it means,,omnilucent," not "illustrious"). Incidentally, "illustrious" thinks he is seems ro be a favorite word with sinologists: a newcomer i*p-ulng on MM. Bynner and Kiang by translating.x / rfl i * as^,,Becse I lack rri"nr, the iltustriius ruler has relected me." Of ,,a wise ruler," as Bynner and Kiang have it. The course, x i means tU r phrase ,l,rryt refers to the intelligence of a ruler as in in and in Shu ("intelligent kings," Leggeis translation, p' 526), r: J. .tl r{ .rz a +. 4+ tY} in Hsn-tz. The problem of context can be best illustrated-by ?' ':q1l example' When ir*", Legge makes Mencius say (Thc Worls of .Mmcius' pp' Lil-Zz;,,,The git man does not think beforehand of his words that rh"y *ry be siricere, nor of his acrions that they may be resolute;-he siniply ,p"rk, and does what is right," it is not fair to father on Mencius resothe irrt.ntion to absolve the great man from sincerity of w_o_rds and comcan West lureness of acdon. Yet one f rh" acutest minds in the
menr:

'* ;;t Ef,- .e- )" '& 2- En , L )i\ 9 -b *

one occasion, etc., when they visited the temp-le.of Shun,.they saw e porr.aits of E-huang and N-ying") as in l-wm Lei-chzz. (The second ,"rdirg seems to be in-ferior.) At any rate, there is no question of the

("On

good emperor's leering at his wives in public.

,,The opportunlsm which has been regarded as the chief merit and the chief def. of Cnfucianism shows clearly here." Does it? What was it that Mencius had in mind when he made "this rather sinister have seeming pronouncement"? Opportunist as he may no/ and then be"n in"r.roal life, Mencius ."rsnot preaching anything very sinister, for he was merely trying to make more precise ql'i-C:nlcius had said. Once asked by frU-[rng to describe an "ofEcer" (shih), Confucius described three types, in the?ollowing anticlimactic scale-a man with the sense of shame in him, never failing in his mission for the sovereign; a man praised for filial piety and fraternaf love; and "a man who makes pnint f sincerity in his wrds and resoluteness in his actions, a-truly

The

sentence
."1

4Lr* F-,fl,e'

g h.* r! L.

t-*

tt r', "+' )il-ih {

is trrrnslutrrd' "Undcr thc I:rtcr IIatt,'thc Iimprcss Mrt, llt'rrtrc:tll "llIlslt'i6tt,s Virrrtc," cotlsort of I(rr:rrtg Wtr'l'i, wrls lts lrlrtrtilirl irr {lt't: lts " slrt'rv,rs lilr.rrl irr virtrrt', r-o llrlrl tlrt'l',rrr1lt't'or l()()l( rrrrrt'lr,lt lililrl itt ltt'l'.'

obstinate littlc man," 'l'- 46 , i+ .r:l' +. , ,E ,' tt: 't' '{ \. Now, Mcncitrs probably was asl<cd to describe a great man (n-i*); arrrl hc cltosc to strltc: tllc oppositc of what Confucius described Irs ,,rr lirrk: nllllt," lry irrscr.tirrg thc ncgativc ptt int<t thc- two con[rrcirrn sclll(.n('cs ,rir.l lttklinll srtrrctlting llositivc ltftc'r thcnr:

rr8

AchillesFang

The Difi.culty of

Translation

trg

wrote, "Mencius nowhere rurns against K'uNG, all of Mencius is implicit in K'ung's docrrine" {seeTke Criterion,July, 1938). The poet himself translates the passage in question as follows:

X A-fr e X.y-^,ii X,s.)8,1'lL hn\.ft-. As Ezra Pound once

There is a good exarnple illustraring the rhetorical aspect: in the "Canon of Shun" we read

i*Z L' i4&*a

t$t'i'+. A{4"}+'

"T":Ii"'fl,,"*Ti;iirft
ma

ke,imber

and lay hold ofthe earth.

There is no compromise in this version (except rhe compromise with popular etymology in the last two lines). In spite of the fact that Mencius'mind has been analyzed and his book is used in classrooms, it does not seem always to be easy to understand Mencius' text in the light of
context.

3.

Rhetoric and Smtirumt


a rnan sez,

Tin't what to bring ovcr.

burlvot he means that the traducer

has

got

Bernard Berenson, in his Sketclz for a Self-portrait,has recenrly rhrown down the gauntlet to translators from the Chinese:
When one comes ro Gernran and attempts to translate its abstract and qualitative terms the task is fraught with ahnost insurmountable difficulties, as the English or French or Italian versions of Gerrnan poets and philosophers prove amply. Yet, though many of us have a living language group to help us out, who can offer a conrernporary satisfactory rendering of Gemt? When it is a question of Greek-Plato, f,or instancc-how convey in any speechoftoday the exact meaning of oa$poov4? Then dareto translare the ancient Chinese and Indian thinkers.

Surely, most of us wince at this challenge, for it is a very serious one. And the reason why such a challenge is so difficulr to meer is that we know very litcle of what might be called the rhetoric and sentirnent of the ancient Chinese thinkers. trf it is true, as T. S. Eliot szys in The SacredWood, that "an understanding of Elizaberhan rhetoric is as essential to the appreciation of Elizabetl'ran lirerarure as an undersranding of Victorian sentirnent is essential to the appreciation of Vicrorian literature and George Myndharn," affairs are still more colnpXicated in the case of Chinese writers and thinkers. Where norhing is obsolete or even obsolescent and all writers of reputation are conscious of and groan under the dead weight of the past, it is no easy metrcr to rliscntanglc truc scntilr)cnt from falsc rhctoric, to clistinguish bcrwcclt trrrtlirirrr arrd indivitltrlrliry, ro rliscrirttinirtc 1l scntirrrt:rrI of thc: hclrrt frrrrrr rrrt'r'r'lip sclvicc to tcsllct'l:tlrlc t'ltc'roric:,ll tlcvict's irr slrorl, trl pllr'r't'r,t'r'v rvonl irr tlrt' ( l)t |l)('t l)('r'ril)('ct iyr' ,,1' sl);l('(' :rn(l I inr('.

There has been some earnest controversy over the precise meaning of this passage. In spite of the fact that the first two sentences have been bandied about by almost every literary histr:rian or critic, it is a moot point whether to take the u,ords at their face vaiues (if there are such ihings). Moreover, rhe mafter becomes complicated when each writer appropriates rhe senrences in his own fashion and rnakes them put on r*" n.* coloring, without being aware (X have the temerity to assert) of their rhetorical natule. If "psychosinology" (we must thank the author af Finne gans Wake for inventing this handy word) is a necessary discipline (how else do we hope to g.t at each writer's senriment?), "etymosirrciogy," otherwise kntwn ,i "th. ideogrammatic method," is usually frowned upon. But we will have to apply ihe methodology of that discredited discipline to evaluate the firsti*o tert.ttces of Shun's definition. We all know that *siag and . tsi" < *tiag were to ail intents and pulposes 'r* "si 1 homophonous in ancient phonolog/; furthermore, the { element of e* and the character ,t have an identical comPonent, <- (degenerated in conventionalized writings to *); finally, g', the other component of i{-, is the same as rhe second characrer in the first sentence. In other words, the sentence is a very clever but essentially etyrnological or etymosinological trick. In fact, the Shik-rning *+ Z-, whose characterisiic fearure is its definition by homophones, defines c as d t-, ,**. < t4.e d1 .s trn the second sentence, i4 ,K l, none of the three characters is homophonous; but we must note that one comPonenr of the first character in the phrase stands independently as the third character. -fo that exrent the scond sentence is also an etymological definidon. How seriously, then, do we hve to take those two statements? Etymology by itielf lends neirher credir nor discredit to any definition; oniy when it excludes all other things does it become susPect- A translator faced rvith a pessage iike the above must see it in its true light before he artempts to iomprchend its iniporr or senrirnent. Furthermore, he ought to interpret all subscquent adoptions of such a Passage (e._g., in Li lfsich's W'n-hsin T'iooJung) in the light of the adopters' inferred rundcrstanrling of rht origirtel passege . A veritable Chinese box indeed. Ycars lrlp ( l. 1,. I)it'ltittsott wt'otL:, naivcly I rtt.tt sttrr:, of (lhinesc lx)('try: "lt i"- o{'rrll 1lot't ly I lirr,,r, llrc rrros:t Itrtrtt:ttr:ttt,l tltc: lcltst sytttlnli.,,rr,.,,,,,,,,tic. It t',rtrtcittlrl:rtt's lili'yrrsr:tr; it prcst'rrts irscl(, rvitltottt lrty

tzo

Achilles Fang

The Di.fficllby

of

Translation

tzt

veil of ideas, any rhetoric or senrimenr." Many of us would agree with mosr of this staiement; it is not for nothing that Dickinson claimed to have been a Chinaman in one of his former incarnations. But "without rhetoric or sendment"? of course, Dickinson is here using the two words in slightly different senses from Eliot; perhaps he meant that Chinese poelry is entirely sincere and without cant. And yet there is enough f rhtoric and sentiment-even in Dickinsonian senses-in Chinse poetry and prose to confuse innocent translators' The scond ,rp..i, that of senriment, may be better treated in connection with a wrd thar has played a paramount role in the history of china and seems to have losr not a particle of its efficacy today. I mean
We hear ofren of the so-called oriental contemPt for human life' China insist, may be a part of orienr or, as Dickinson and Harold Acton would polidcal^philosophy Chinese of no, t" on", but the salient feature "rry been irs arrenrion ro rhe idea of the people.In fact, fi" has hrr'^l*ry, pekinmsis ,i*ry, ben identified with Homo sapirys and never wirh Homo *p1ebeian," ,f".J. It is a word which never has sunk as low as "vulgar," popular," "le bas peuple" (1 ry. neve.r meant anything.of this sort)' "i.ipl""'(used as n aiec-tiue), "poprlace" (as in Matthew Arnold's
R"

Chinese; in fact, it would not be incorrect to say that the genius of Chin"r. p.*" is verse. Tke the case of-p'im-t'i-'uJtrn, "parallel prose." Is it pror" o. verse? (That some of the things written in this genre are anyrl,ing but pletry is beyond question, but it is not so simple to decide *heihe, praill prose is aerse or prose.) And parallelism or symmetry are ingrained in Chinese thinking. In e West a prosateur who writes blank verse is the butt of critics; Charles Dickensiith his "As we struggle on, / nearer and nearer to the sea, from which / this mighty wind was blowing dead on shore, / its force became more and more / terrific, etc.," has served as an obiect is all the more apPreciated for the blank Iesson. But a Chinese

or

t-1,.

Prosateur verse he might scatter through his prose writing' The matter becomes sdllhore complicated when we consider the appalling amounr of evocation in chinese prose. It.is not only in regard t'rhyth and diction that Chinese proseapproaches.verse but also in rhe quality known specifically ,s poeii.. Wlien a well-known student of

,noi"n"d tripardte classification f-English society into Barbarians,

Philistines, and PoPulace). It wouli be the height of folly to believe that the Chinese have always ,eJr.d their poliricriideal. Nor is it relevant to discussthe gap beween ideal and action here, for our immediate concern is with the simple *ord, min and jen-min. The problem for the translator, then, boils those words down to this: His he done iusrie to the full connotation of rendering of way other by rendering them as "the people"? Is there any
them?

Chinese art trrnrlri", , ,r.rr" inscription on a painting as a piece of prose, chopping the lines into bars of two, three, or even eight, nine irrnot simply deplore his incompetence; it mlstte quite "hrrr"t..rirr" difficult to recognize verse as ,rse. The same applies.to the iapanese musicologisr wh"o puncruated a l-shih ("regular verse") as if it were a tz'u; proiebly he lso thought it was a piece of prose'

4.

Parataxis l)ersus SYntaxi.s

For purposes oftranslation one has to cut various knots, and make arbitrarY decisions'

the More or less allied with the problem of rhetoric and sentiment is most of the annovins nature of Chinese liierary style in general' In usually verse.are and prose .i"iil1r.a"f*guages the two .rt.goii.t of George rhythm' distinguishei -r" or less sharply' Speaking-of prose "lnrtiuty wrote: "The great P;iltlql.: of foot arrangement in prose other ;;;iF;"re Rhyrhm, is"Varieiy.,, With regard todiction andwScrc museut, a i..f,.ri"rf devices, T. E. Holtne thught that "prosc [is] all the old weapons of poctry [ar] kept'" Ir is' on tltc otltcr ltrrtttl' impo.ssilriliry t<>"dcnrarcltc bct'uvc'c'tr tltc: lwo c:ItL:p,..,,y ,.,,u.1, of "n rts rlrc (llrirrcsc iitr-rrrtrr'ti.{'tlrc ,rrst. Ilt thc'y lt:tvt' tlt'vt'l'r,t'tl i1..,,i.'1., i, ilt trrCt rttttl t't,rtlt'st't' tltt:1' wt'st, tlr<' llt' ,,,,,r,. .,l. lt'ss sr'11:rrlrtr: t.rtritit's in

Most Chinese rexrs can be readily Punctuated; morever' t large number of important texts have been printed-with Punctuation marks, especially those reprinted in recent years. If a translatotr cannot cor,ectly put dots and circles in the body of his text, obviously he is not ready for translation; he will have to wait some rnore years' A serious problem, however, remains; it is not to be disposed of so lightly. Unless the translator is really comPetent' he will be at a loss to otrrin syntaxis out of the predominntly paratactical. structure of Chin"r" ,.*rr. For thc so-calle puncruation marks in Chinese texts, which any school child of tcn can put down, represent nothing much beyond brathing prtuscs. Thcy arc neithcr grammatical nor logical'I'h"."""r", nf c,r,rrr.r, two l<intls oiparataxis; onc in the strict sense of (Mod' rlrc word, antl thc orlrt.r irr u Lxrsc: sclrsc. whcn Louis MacNcice 26: No' of:Otlc trtnslrttiott rtt l'rrlr.'y ll9l8l) slrt'rtks oI At'rltrrr Wrlcy's

tz2
-Ibssed

Achilles Fang
is that cypress boat,

Tbe Difi.culty of Trattslation

t23

Now, the text

has:

Wave-tossed

it

floars;

IMy heart is in turmoil, I cannot sleep.

')' + i

, *

*&

/-

,9.*,r.

+, rf ,)L + , ,'*. j1-1. 7l fa, a" t. ,*


irL r,t + as paratactical, he is using the word in rhe srricr sense. The problern that concerns us here is not poetic devices like chis but hor,v ro group a series of breath-units (called ch) inro logically coalescenr units. Tke

is possible that the translator was aware of Legge's translation of the Confucian sentence { i*" e A W A 7,x l$ ;-, "Nolv the man of distinction is solid and straightforward, and loves righteousness" (Analects, XII, 20). But how does one love steadfastness? Did the poet love that quality in other peoplel or in himself, or is it that the poet was steadfast himself? If so, steadfastness in what? "steadfasmess and righteousness"

It

the passage, "My humble opinion is this concerning Masrer Ch'ang, who undertook the pracrice of am while dwelling amid the shadows of the North, and was truly cornpetent wirhour ever having received the culrural influence of the Middie Kingdom; who could nor be moved by force nor beguiled by profir: this was indeed a r'aeul How could it have been easy to get hotrd of himl" Ir is hard ro understand what these sentences mean. Quite possibly the ranslator did nor have access ro a syntactically punctuated texr, which would read:

for chieh-i is, to be sure, far better here than GiXes's "chaste and
good,-as a widow who does not remarry." Nor <1o the examples given inP'ei-wen Yn-fu (widows who remained steadfast to their late husbands' memory, a girl who took revenge on her father's killer by killing him, men who held fast to the course of life their conscience had dictated to them) fit wirh the context in question. But Meng Hao-ian (remarkable a personality as he was) was not pamicularly disdnguished for chieh-i in the usual sense; the translation strikes a false note. As the translator himself knows, the passage is derived or rewritten from Wang Shih-yan's preface to the collected poems of Meng Haojan:

L t* *t, *

&."t A,,'# '* A

t'.;g;.,,il* 4rl z pal,x ,ie-+ E! iZ + 6r vt \tc &*,;"n_6 q ''). it i*; fl,] +-, H fr 4+ #,". &ft

*'*

E *+ !.b\, v). i 4. .

The translator must have punctuated the rexr somerhing like the following:

,$.rt br'#
f+

k *' At.; T E t't /,e-; b44d\.


r*

lrA t9*,8,t4

tfl 4Prl,4 ?A+ r4 .,1, x-'aT vt, 4'l i*; qt itl

Which sounds very much like Ssu-ma Ch'ien's prefatory remark on his chapter on knight-errants : .ta # *; *(-,r- 1 .l-,ltZL6

t-ftu.t,t4*

If the correct syntactical punctuarion is followed, the text may be translated: "l r,vould like to observe:-Master Ch'ang, a devotee of art,
cannot be moved by force nor beguitred by profit, in spite of rhe fact that he lives in the Northern Land where Chinese civilization has not penetrated. In other rvords, this man is a rare phenornenon." (Here the two characrers X, AY, are only ernphatic; they do not mean thar thc paintcr was a competent amist. The last four characters b t+ \ rnerely mean "How is it possible that such a man exisrs?") A rather instructive exarnple is furnislred by a recent translirtion frour tlre biography of the poer Mcng Hao-jan in Ilsin ll"'ang-slru: " [A lrctdy] in his yorrth, hc lovr:cl stcetlf,asrncss and righrcousncss, arrrl Iilir.tl to hclp pcr,plt'in tlislrc:ss."'l'lris shrrrltl l,^our)(l strtng(: to illt),()n,..r,r,lro lrus tlorrc

except that Ssu-ma Ch'ien uses ,i: in place of \/ang Shih-yan's *o. The writer who penned the Hsi'tt T'ang-shu Passage must have intended it to be a syntactical, not a paratacticI, sentence; thar is, he was not enumerating three qualities that distinguished Meng Hao-ian's youth (love of steadf,astness, love of righteousness, and readiness to come to men in distress); he rather expected his readers to punctuate the scntence as follows: | ++ 'a? -ir". + )f,- /- .L ilL.

"# A Et.6;

:lllY lt';lnsl:tliott: u,lt:rt ('()nn('('l iorr is tlrc.r't'lrt.trvr.t.rr tlrt.pot.l 's lovt.ol'


litr':rrll;rstrrlsr; ;rrr,l of'l'irllrtt',rrr;lr,'s:; :rrrrl lris rvrllirrlirr(.ss t() lrr..lp otlrcr.s),

Morcover, he must have used ! either s a synolrym of i. or as its rlualificr or cvcn intcnsi6cr; at any rate, he must have thought ')* t+ lx vvas not rhythrrric ertt<ittglt. ln othcr words, all he intcnclcd was that Mcng I Iur-irrn wrts (itttrl ol- plrryirrg thc rolc of a l<night-crrant, for he wirs rclrrly l() ('()ur(t ro tltt' ltt'lp ol'rtttytlttc itr distrcss.'l'hc llhrlrsc at 'ri rt, tlrt.rr, rrurst trrclttt lltt'ri:llttt'tllittll:rs tl /,, <lr lil ii. irr tlrt: lirlltrving sclrrcn(:cs ltrrttt /"rltrrtt I rttt f tt:

t24
-*
r1
*q i*

Achilles Fang

The Difi.cuby of

Translation

rz1

<- & r * *_,* *. til. The phrase ll { occurs also in rhe colloquial saying .,; +3 *.. If j{ is translated as "righteousness," the translator musr wam the reader that he is using the word in the sense of Hebrew zedokah, "justice, righteousness," which stands for "charity," for &; in the Hsin T'ang-shu does not connore the same rhing as when the word is joined with 4t ori, etc. As a syntactical sentence, rhe passage should then mean: "As a
*E at 2V .,
,a-.

qt lx+" '!t (,* *, *$ ++ 4+) *L + i!- *'1,' d, * * z *.,*,< r. * (ro)L,ilt,.X,* *)

<- .L.,.*

.(

and samples, which has become as rcchcrch as Eric Partridge's srudy of Shakespeare's bawdy, and with his penemating analysis, as rafiniert as inrhe Kama Sutra.He should instead think boldly on the larger plane of

youth he was generous to other people, always ready to help them when

they were in disess."


f

Particles and Principles

You crush all pardcles down into close conformity, and walk back and forth on them.

which heading instances of its interrogarive and interjecrive usages are marshalled; then it is equated with iL , S, and .fo, rhe illustrative passages put under each of these equations being all indicative senrences. That is, the particle fu seems to spice almosr any kind of sentence. The truth of dre maffer is that it is not the particle which makes a senrence indicative, etc., for rhe senrence itself is already indicative enough, wirh or without the additional seasoning. A parallel instance is furnished by a texrbook meanr for classroom use, in which ;6, which is more or less a colloquial counrerparr of the final d, is handled in rhe same fashion; only thar the author, who incidentally does not go into any equarion, invenrs a special caregory called "idiomatic" into which he puts a phrase like .lri .X- {t,"bien enrendu." Our quarrel with the analydc particlist is that his worl<, Icgitinrarc and often necessary as it is, stops with analysis. Wc arc iusrificd in dcmanding that such an cxpcrr, who does not nrincl spclrtlirrg his rirrrr: rrnrl cllcl'gy ott sttclt mrcficd things, 11ivc rrs solr)c ovcr-all lrrrl synrlrt'siz.ing orrlkxrl, lrr orrtlooh that worrltl tcll trs why rr Prrrriclc lrt.lrlrvcs lrs ir rLrcs rllttl ttot otltct'rvisc'. I lc slrorrLl t'rrll rlrrits with lris irr grrrlrcrirrlg ol';rrrrrick.s

It is forrunate that few Sinologists, excepr those who are still srruggling with their characters, have been victimizedby pamicle specialists. Quire lustifiably, they leave their particles to take care of themselves. Particle books are necessary evils: a standard treatise (P'ei Hseh-hai), very valuable for the number of illustrarive examples, is a delectably concocted olla podrida of grammatical and lexicographical equations. And what equations indeed! The 6nal *- is first equated with f , under

his problem. A tentative suggestion may be offered to such a srudent. All particles are divided, like Caesar's Gallia, into three tribes: functional particles (e.g., pronominal S), which should be dealt with as a regular part of speech; decorative pafticles (like 4 in certain context), ubiquitous in parallel prose and allied genres; and attitudinizing particles, which convey the writer's mood toward the statement to which they are attached. (There is another category of particles, which grammarians call i$i or th '#,1 or flh '4, "expletives," out of sheer despair, because they are ignorant of their real functions. But this class may rurn out to belong to one of the three categories mentioned above.) Tke rhe Confucian saying + it ,a z- f . The last z is generally accepted as expressing the speaker's modesty (or mock-modesty) because it expresses the conclusion drawn from a supposition, whether expressed or not. In the present case, the protasis is a gentleman ( la Confucius) and his activities; Confucius is here making the statement tz'u-ta with his idealized gentleman as the frame of reference or even as the point of departure. The compoand erh-i ('h e,) is translated, in the classroom cant, with "and that's all." But from what point of view? The heretical rranslation, "Problem of style? Get rhe meaning across and then srop," seems to prove that the translator took erh-i as referring to or continuing the act expressed in the verb ta. What Confucius intended to say was probably something like this: "As for your question about the problem of style, there is nothing more for me to say in answer than that you should be able to get your meaning across." Which should have reminded the inrerrogator of the poor estimate Confucius had of a mere "literary" man, who may be eloquent with the three hundred odes but

performs miserably as an ambassador. In short, it is a mistake to read such particles into the words of the statement itself. Attitudinizing particles, then, have to be given a psychological and even a psychoanalytical treatment, When it comcs to decorative particles, a totally different approach is nccded: an aesthctic trcatmcnt. A convenientparallel is to be found in thc practicc of calligraphy. As is r.vell known, no calligrapher starts a strol<c ahrrrptly; hc r:rtht'r ilc'ploys and mancuvers for a whilc the forces of his lrrrrsh lrcl< rrrrtl firrt lr, rrp ulrd down. 'I'hcrr hc carric:s his bruslr resolrrtc'ly firrrvrrltl rrrrtil lrc lt'uclrt's lr yxrint whcrt: tlrt: rlirct:tiott is rl clrrrrrgt'; Irt'r<: lrt, rlocs tlrc s:rrrrc tlrirtg ns irt tltc hcginnirrg. Nor rl<lcs hc lifr

t26

Achilles Fang about thern publicly.

The Difficulty of

Translation

r27

the brush without tvvarning, for he tarries a while before he cornpletes the stroke. Just as there are many ways of execudng the initial, medial, and final stages in executing a stroke (see the Eight Tbchniques of Yung,

burglary in order to protect his property), but

it is not wise to talk

there are any number of particles for the initial, medial, and final positions in a sentence. Tke for example the beginning of Ouyang Hsiu's essay,

;i<

,r d*),

*A,+l

it-, /,* iL et A tt tA, A m gi, t< lil, t'u' /- +fi < e\ #,.h ++ z 4 A e-.

/t4,

The rhree {,t can hardly be called functional. In fact, according to Chu Hsi, Ou-yang Hsiu did not insert the first rrryo erh in the original draft; it was probably for rhetorical or decorative reasons that Ou-yang Hsiu inserted them later, for they would make the first sentences less abrupt. The reader has to take a pause when he cornes to erh,looking backward to the tw.o conventional and hence challenging words and looking forward, with certain anticipation, to what is corning; in a way, Ou-yang Hsiu is playing a cat-and-mouse game with his reader. Thus considered, the two initial erh are merely stylistic. It is baffiing, therefore, to understand what Dr. Walter Sirnon means when he asserts that the Parricle erk placed before "the verb of which it is the obiect" contrihutes to "greater precision of thought" (cf ' Asia Major, New Series, II, 1). The two chik here are also quite superfluous medial particles. The final rL, ofcourse, belongs to the third category, but it has also a rhetorical use here: by its assertative force it challenges the reader to think, and (ifhe is so rninded) to disagree even; but, if he wants to read on, he has to grant"the truth of the statement prT terut at least. Frankly, all these particles could have been excised without damaging an iota of the writer's meaning and attirude; even the functional ,rL, which subsumes the two preceding sentences, coulcl have been omitted. 1+' .E r+ *6,' +]t rl1, /-+frit tA',+ *ltr ,'tr{r,) couldhave conveyed everything meant and irplied in the original passage; the reader could take recourse to, what John Addington Symonds in his book on blank verse tetrms, "sense and pauses" in his own fashion, Indeed, the characteristic feanrre of particles, as far as they are of the second andf or third category, is their dispensability. This being so, it is wisdom not to translate particles at all rather than to translate wrongly; rather stryprcssil aeri rhan ru'tgestio faLri. As long rs perticlists do not comc fortlt with somc syntltc:tic strg[{(:sti()ns, tllc prirrciplc oIprrticlcs can lrt: strrtcrl rltus: Prtrticlcs urc like porttrlgr:rphy; ()nc ln:ly struly tlrcnr if onc'lurri ir tirst(: firr tltetrt un(l ()ll('ott1llrt lr ltttrw thcrrr (irrsr ls 'llcng-tz.ii rrurint;rirrcrl tlrt' rteccssity ol'littou,itt11 tlrt' :trt ttf

The HsinT'ang-shu sentence * ,* + n . *'p is faultlesslv rendered in: "At the age of forty, he finally traveled to the capital." But the translator must give himself away in a foomote: "Possibly the particle nai 73 here merely serves to connect the preceding adverbial phrase with the predicate. Bur tr helieve it fits the context lietter to take it in the sense of 'finally,' 'at last.' Literati inrerested in an official career usually \Ment to the capital when they were about thirty years old." The original Chiu T'ang-sltu, hawever, has: * * + A u! i* ei, which shows that the Hsin T'ang-shu writer altered { to ft . FIe could equally well have altered it to ,rz or 44, or even omitted it altogerher. When rhe translator wrote "finally" he was not translating rl but was merely interpolating a felicitous word. One wonders horv he would (/9) occurring in the spirited story of have translated all the Hsiang Ynin Shik-clzi. (Chavannes didn't.) Would he also translate the twenty ..r&, in Ou-yang Hsiu's piece 6$ A 4 ltl (Giles didn't.) It seems that the Anglican archbishop of Quebec was right when he said, "Logical-minded unimaginative people make great mistakes by studying the texts too intensively. . . . Yoil need to relax-to oPen your hearr-to listen."
Quotatton and All.usisn I have heard that the finest flower of Chinese educarion is that which, sreeped in the Chinese classics, can convey in three pages of allusive writing, to the right readers, what would otherwise take

6.

thirtY'
E. E.

KrrlBrr

Allusive style, of course, is not the monopoly of Chinese literarure; it is a uuly universal aspect of all literarures, Past and present. The modernist poey in the West seems to vie with ancient Chinese literature in this respect. We know tirat in spite of vociferous denunciation The Waste Landhas been translated into several languages by rnen without serious claims to comprehending all the btes noires of the Saturday Ileaie"u of Literature; and yet they seem to have produced tolerably
acclrrate versions. Whcthcr bccausc

of'thc supposedly abysmal gulf berween the Chincsc nrind antl occirlt:ttl:tl lttttttrrlity or for othcr reasons, Sinological trrrnsllrtors s('('nr l() slrtrrrlrlt' vt'l'y frcqucntly ovcr tlttotetiolls and allusiotts. \'ct, ()n(: crlnn()t lrrtt :rtlrrritr: tlrc tolcrallly llcctlriltc vcrsiotts tltt:y Ir:rvr'lltrr,lrrt't'.1 irt r;1,it.'rrl'tltt',r.l,lri.'l'lre f;rct is, it is:rlrtrost :tlrvltys rt:'

r28

Acbilles Fang

The Difficulty of Translation

t29

warding to track down the immediate and ultimate sources of allusions and quotations, for more often than not they are glossed or commented on in those sources; hence, a translator works against odds, by despising those sources.

The

sentence

iu'a, ft

ab

\+ +.b,.c- *,r*

Fb

*s

4,.,r.x

*.

What does Lu Chi mean by Xi+ tL, which is here made parallel to ,g E? In my version inthe Hart)ard lournal of Asiatic Studies I rendered the last line with "Essentially, words must communicate, and reason must dominate; prolixity and long-windedness are not commendable," and referred the reader to Legge's Analects, Page 305. This bare reference to an existing translation is highly irresponsible, not much more
creditable than the total silence maintained by the three previous translators. From the very fact that the two lines containing the phrase conclude a discussion of the ten genres, it seems beyond doubt that Lu Chi did not take the Confucian saying ii 4 *, e, f. in the usual accePta-

is rendered: "In the scriptures there is the saying: whoever adds to the honor and renown of his parents will be successful, whoever disgraces his parents will be unsuccessful." What scriptures? Certainly not Exod. 20:12 ("Flonor thy father and thy mother...")? Had the translator looked into Li-chi, "Nei-tse," he would have found that in

l. 4 r& tL,r* tb *.
Jtt &

g-

Qe

r. _*, ,9. fl4 \ rt +,

\4 4 A,.y- ;r.
.,2.

f.

x,

where the key word kuo means, as Cheng Hsan says, i* ("resolute, unwavering"). "Certe perficiet . . . certe non perficiet" (Couvreur). It is not difficult to discover rhe locus classicus, but it is, on the other hand, not so easy to be able to recognize a quotation or allusion as such; a second sight or a sixth sense is perhaps needed for this. The most difficult and most important thing for the Eanslator, however, is to be able to evaluate the quoted passage in the context of the text he is translating. Ir is not enough to refer the reader to the locus classicu.r or quote someone else's Eanslation of the passage. For it often happens that the writer of the text may not have interpreted the passage in question in the same v/ay as the translator thinks, on the best authority, it should be interpreted. Furthermore, it is quite possible that the writer was not a conscientious scholar; he may have quoted the passage indirectly from a secondhand source. A parallel instance is furnished by the later French Symbolists who thought they were ue disciples of Edgar Allan Poe, all the while they were misinterpreting him on the basis of a secondhand authoriry. Literary history has neglected this process of misinterpretation and misunderstanding. We need to investigate, not the dreary chains of influence where we can show that one writer copied another in literal detail, but the more fascinating chains which link one poet to another he has never read but only read about or heard about, whose ideas vaguely apprehcndcd or cvcn Inisapprehended serve as catalytic agents for his own dcvcloptttcnt.'l

tion. The traditional interpretation of this enigrnatic saying seems to have gone into Legge's translation: "In language it is sirnply required that iiconvey the rneaning." That is, a gentleman as idealized by Confucius was essentially a Homo politiczs, whose interest in life should be much more comprehensive than mere stylistic accomplishrnent; hence, he has no dme to waste on polishing his literary ability, for all he has to do is to be able to make others understand him-a sentiment which is so poignantly echoed by Hsiang Y when he said that all he wanted in the art of letters was the ability to write down his name ( N v iL iL b ,a u) . And this interpretation seems to have been in Yen Fu's rnind when he set up as desiderata of translation ,i? &- irlt, "Accuracy, Intelligibility,
Elegance."
accepted this interpretation in his context, especially when he rounds out the paragraph (or strophe) with an injunction against prolixity and long-windedness. It is quite possible rhat he intended what Ezra Pound meant when he interpreted the Con-

It is, however, doubtful if Lu Chi

fucian saying with


in discourse what matters is to get it ecross c poi basta.

If he did, there is no question of Lu Chi's

"vaguely apprehending"

the Confucian meaning; a scholar of no mean accomplishment, he must have wilfully distorted the import of the Sage.
lrha was nor read

To give a concrete example, Lu Chi's Wen-fu has thc following rwo


lincs:
.1{l I,':

And I like Augustine Birrel. I happened to correct him when he said that the Apocryin the Church services; and again when he said that Elihu the Jebusite ws one of Job's comfortcrs. IIc tried to override me in both points, but I called for a Iliblc and provcd thcrn. I Ic srid, glowcring very kindly at me: "l will say to you what 'l'hrrnes Olrlylc ortcc s:ritl (o a your)g nran who caught him out in a misquotation, 'Yrung nun, yolr nrc lrc:rrlirr11 srleililrr frrr tht: pit of I'ldl!"'

,r\ y

1.,

lrl tlr ,{, ri,l ii,,t r}!-, at .l';r rL f ii, &


i,=.
.

/r,,

,li tl ,r, tf

l.ikc llolrc:rl ( lr',rvt'r;, tlrc Sirurlogical stutlcut


Iris llrrrlxlsr', rrrtrrrirt,llirl ol' tlrt' e()llsc(lucrlcc.

ltrts tr cllq: Scrilltttrc for

r3o

Achilles Fang

The Difi.culty of Translation

I3I

7. Grammar and Dictionary


Lisez, lisez; ierczla grammaire
.

Gusrevr Scnlncel
Un dicrionnaire peut toujours 6tre amdlior6.

Csavexxrs

In recent years a number of vernacular grammrians, some of tliem


determined to live down the allegedly idiosyncratic analogic or anagogic been producing grammatical trearises. And there have been also no srnall nurrber of Sinologists who, laudably following the dictum docendo discimus, do not seem to mind washing their dirty linen in public. When in 1916 Mr. F{u Shih wrote to the editor of the f-Isin Ch'ing-n,ien advocating Literary Revolution, he managed to put "Insist on Grammar" as one of the eight points in his program. This is a bit sulprising because such a schoolmasterly Gebot was not to be found in the Imagist credos r,vhich must have inspired that program. But it is not so suqprising to see Ch'en T-hsiu (the editor of the journal) and Ch'ien Hsan-t'ung reacting violently against

or even bifocal reasoning of the Chinese, have

that injunction. Ch'en Tu-hsiu thought (and Ch'ien Hsan-t'ung confirmed it) that, as grammar in the usual senses of the r'l,ord does not exist in Chinese, what Dr. Hu Shih considered to be grammar should be, as had always been, relegated rc Stilistik (or rhetoric). Probably the writer had in mind Y Yeh's Ku-shu I-x Ch-li and its continuations. At any rate, it cannot tre seriousiy dispured that books litr<e that have more use for Sinological snrdents than Gabelentz ar even Stanislas Julien. Gustave Schlegel was not the best of Sinologists; yet he had a modicum of sound sense when he advised his students to forger their gramrnar. Indeed, no one has ever learned to read ancient Chinese texts from analytical gramrnar; a warning example is that of Angelo Zouol| SJ., who is hnown for his imposing tornes of Cursus.In his Latin gramlnar written in Chinese the phrases (ch) are mostly perfect, but the juxtaposition is nighrnarish. It would take a genius to string together those phrases (some in the Shih-chi style , some in thefw style, some sheer colioquialisms) into coherent sentences. The sooner we forget grammar, the speedier will we recovcr c;tlr sanity. Another fedsh of a group of Sinologisrs who still thinl< (lhincsc (classical Chinesc) is a "languagc" in thc convcntioltll sctlsc is tllcir Iirrrr colrviction tlt:rt t ltcrft'cr rlicrioltrtry will strtortlr tltt'ir lvrry. Al:ts, tlrt'y rrrt'rvlrorittg tr(icr (:rlst'1iorls. l,ilst, sttclt lt rlit'tiorrrrly is ilrr;,ossiIrlc lo ttt:tlit'; ttt'xt, rvlt:tr t':tt'tlrl1' ttrlt'ir;:t lu'o lttttltlt't'tl t'r,lttttlt',lttli"tt:tt'y trr ;url,,{)n('.r r\ltcr':rll ir; r;;rrrl ;rn,l tl,rttt', tltr'nr('irirrrrl' is rlt'tt ttttttrt,l lt,,ttr tltt'

context; ergo, a translator must get a firm grasp of his context in the largest sense of the word, and there no dictionary will avail him. Moreover, a dictionary is no help if the wrong entry is chosen. It is generally known that Chinese scholars themselves seldom use any diciionary except the Shuo-um and the Ching-cki Tiuan-ku $tan Yan); certainly, Sinologists can profit from the rnonumental Shua'qsrn Chiek-tz tr{w-lin and Shuo-wrn T'ung-hsn Ting-shr"zg (which incorporates most of rhe Ching-chi Tsuan-ku entries), pl'ts P'ei-zaen Yn-fu. No seif-respectirxg uanslator should use Mathews, Giles, Couvreur, etc., after he has studied ayear, unless it be to find English synonyms' Asanillustration,takethesentence t+ k l-L z *of llsn-shul\jA/3b (ed. Wang Flsien-ch'ien) or & 'k rt- 1* as in Lieh-n Chuan' What does -S1 mean here? Which of the three dictionary meanings should be acceptecl? l'Music" (*nglk / ngk. / yeh) ? 'J.y, dissipation" (*glk / tk" / t) ? "To like" (nglg / ngcw" / yao) ? A recent translator seems to have accepted the first meaning, for his version makes the sentence "to make the night long with rnusic." He probably did not look into ttie corresponding prrtrg. in Shik-chi 3: e, +,-'.e- Z 4k, "il donna des orgies qui duraient tute la nuit" (Chavannes). Of course there is no reason why Fal Ku should not have meant music when he altered to i3: . But Pan Ku was no puritan, nor had he to reckon with Mrs. Grundy' Hence it is more likely that he used -*S in the second sense, which comes # in nearest to ilk-.In fact, it must have been used in the sense of "# the phrase e4 )A t* * occurring a few lines ahead in Pan Ku's own text. What boots a dictionary then? Probably rhe uanslator was trying to give a sophisticated tranilation; rvimess "to make nigk long" for Ar-&- ia- ("in order to prolong the night"?). If it comes of sophistication it is quite unformnaie, for the sense of the entire sentence is totally altered. The couplet l*t E :*-')al t9. . ffL 61 ,#t ** +a
is rendered by a recent scholar as:
I)clicatc clouds dim the Milky Way, l)riz-z.lirrg rain drops frorn the wu-t'uug trees.

'l'hc trirnslator sccnrs to ltavc l:rbored on this; witness the alliteration, nrorc or lc"^s corrcspottrlitrl; to tltt: original schcme . Ilut "drizzling rain dr<4'ts.['nn tltc wrt t'llnli lrtt's" i-- trtally flrlsc, ftrr it drops onto the ru,, t',,,,g lt.lrvt's; lltr' lrot'l t'orrltl Itt'rtt' llt(: tilt()() ol- t'rtirrtlro|s. ()[ crlttrsC, rro tlit'tiorr:rly ()t llt:unnt:u ( iul ('\,('r'lt,,pt'to tltlit'ltotit't'.,1'sttt'lt irr.livitlrr:rl
,'x lrn rl rlcs.

rjz

Achilles Fang

The

Dificulty of

Translation

ryj

Needless to say, amateur Sinologists whose obsession with their pet theories is as great as their veneration ofdictionaries tend to lose sight of context. Tke a rranslation of the Passage which summarizes the gist of dialectical metaphysics of the "Book of Changes":
When the sun goes, the moon comes; When the moon goes, the sun comes. Sun and moon alternate; thus light comes

feeling or feelings work in harmony with the personality of the man whose feeling or feelings are sdrred arnd, tpso fauo, with the cosmic scheme itself. The translator is likely to defend his position by referring to the dictionary meaning of rrL as "all."

8. Tiaduttore, Tiaditare
And
the

md of all aur crploring


the

into being. When cold goes, heat comes; When heat goes, cold comes.
Cold and heat alternate, and thus the year completes itself.

lVill

bc to arriae ,u)herc ,tDc startcd

And knolt) the place for

frst

time.

The past contracts. The furure expands'


Contraction and expansion act uPon each other; hereby arises that which furthers.

All the difficuldes mentioned in the above can and should be surmounted, sooner or later, by honest and earnest s$dents. But there is a big roadblock still looming large before tlem: our ignorance of Chinese psychology. What do we know about terms like *, t, etc.? And what does really mean? And when shall we come to know more precisely about all these terms?

that the translator took it A and *- # as The third strophe means that the sun' the future." and "the past" "the moon, heat, and cold go because they have to stooP (lit. "bend") before the cyclic law, and cme because rhey are allowed to have their due (lit. ,iunbend',) in the cyclic system. That chehere serves the function of quotation marks can be seen try anyone who has examined the context. (It is also possible that che is a personifier; i.e., wang-che may mean ttthe goer.") A similar example of the oversophistication is: "When anger, sorrow' joy, pleasure are in being but are not manifested, the mind may be said to be in a state of Equilibrium; when the feelings are stirred and cooperate in due degree the mind may be said to be in a state of Harmony." Which is meant to be a translation of rt;E *, z*t1 lub + i td Z +". & U. l*.#

It is almost unbelievable

illa crntat, nos t^ccnru: quando ver Qeilit mrum?

fiun uti chclidon ut taccrc desinam? As long as we are ignorant of their meanings, we will have to be cautious abour what we do with them; we should certainly abstain from reading our favorite theories into the innocent texts. Meanwhile I see no reason why we should desist from translating Chinese texts; we cannot expeft to enjoy "another lifetime," nor would our translations be perfect if we enjoyed several. But translations made with all conscientiousness are rhe sine qudnonof all Chinese scholarship, and the effort to translate heightens one's awareness of his own heritage even as he seeks to understand another.
quando

NOTES
was said in 1950 by Marianne Moore, the gifted translator of La Fontaine's Fables: "The 6rst requisite of a translation, it seems to me, is that it should not sound like a translation. That similacrum of spontaneiry can be a fascinadng thing indeed. A master axiom for all writing, I feel, is that of Confucius: 'When you have done justice ro the meaning, stop,' That implies restraint, that discipline is cssential." 2. Which is what Goethe charged Heine with but is also a term used by Lu Chi

<,t

L The last word on the art of tranilation

As the translation is made to support the synaesthesis theory, there is ((co-operate" is to be understood in a normal no doubt that the word sense: the four feelings, after they are sdrred one and all, uork togethcr in an ideally harmonius manner. This is a unique intelpretation of the passage. Of course, the original text is vaepe; and there is nothing to forbid our translator from taking the four feelings as working and acting simultaneously, but anyone who has studied all the comPetcnt commentarics on the text will have no tlottbt whatsocver thar thc writcr of the of l)ilsrixgc probably irttcrtilctl t'o lcavt: thc mattcr to tllc rc:ttlt'r',s sctrsc ()r onc tltlrt lll()rc Ptrllxrrliott lls l() wllclllcr lt<'sltrltrkl crttsitlc:r<ltrc fccling r;rirrt'rl. I tc will :lr xny rult'lr;rvc rrr lr<'sit:ttiorr in tlrirrkilll.l tll:lt tlrc stirrctl

(#.t).
4.

). Cf.4+

.L-

z ii

r- r}-,,fr- ,.'' & ,1*-Y 'i" f+ inthe"GreatPrefl'ottry (l,orrrkrrr, 195 l),


P.
19,

:tcc" to thc .Si. I)ocs this rrrc:rrr thc slrnc thing as Ezra Pound's dcfinition: "Poetry is l vcrbal st:rtculcnt of crrrotiorrll vrrlucs. A pocrl is an cmotional valuc vcrbally statcd"? J:tcolr lsuut:s,'I'l.rr'llttL'u,rotut,l ol' Modcrn