An analysis on the translation of the name of a Missionaries’newspaper


校园英语·上旬 2017年3期


【Abstract】The relationship between the ideology, the power and the translation is discussed under the help of the rewriting theory posed by Andrew Lefevere in this paper. The first part provides the background information which introduces the context of a certain era where the translation occurs. The second part deals with that how the ideology and the power play an important role in translation activities. And, the final part is the conclusion of the whole paper.

【Key words】missionaries Chinese press; translations of names; ideology; power

1. Background Information

Between about the 1750 and 1850, Britain experienced its first industrial revolution. With the limits of the local market, entering into the foreign ones was in dire need for such capitalist countries. Thus, China, with vast lands and abundant resources, naturally became an attractive target. Meanwhile, the Western Church also had a keen interest in China and thus the London Missionary Society sent the Robert Morrison to China in 1807 who later became the Chinas first protestant missionary. In view of the policy made by the government of the Qing Dynasty(the last imperial dynasty of China), preaching was strictly forbidden and China was with no contact to the outside world then. Therefore, western missionaries left China, went to Malacca to found the first Chinese newspaper and thereby, unfolded the historical canvas of the missionaries Chinese press.

2. The relevant analysis

Here, the Chinese Monthly Magazine was translated as “察世俗每月統传记”. Why it was translated in this way? In the preface of the book——Translation, Rewriting and The Manipulation of Literary Fame. Andrew Lefevere mentioned that “Translation is, of course, a rewriting of an original text. All rewritings, whatever their intention, reflect a certain ideology and a poetics and such manipulate literature to function in a given society in a given way.” It is obvious that this translation of the name is a rewriting. The question is that if this translation reflects a certain ideology in a given society? The answer lies in what kinds of the era background that this translation was under. Before the First Opium War (1840-1842), the Chinese emperor Qian Long shut out the world. At that time, China was the oriental pearl, powerful and prosperous. Thus, many missionaries took a quite time-consuming trip and finally arrived in China. However, they were forced to leave because the Chinese government did not receive them with open arms at all. Confucianism has played a central role in Chinese culture circle for thousands of years. Thus, the preaching, an activity viewed as cultural aggression, was not allowed to hold in China. For those missionaries, there was no alternative but to go somewhere else. Milne established Chinese Monthly Magazine, of course a church newspaper, in Malacca. However, “he did not translate Chinese Monthly Magazine to a Chinese name directly relevant to the Christianity because he wanted Chinese people to accept it easily.” (Zhao and Wu, 2011: 44) Usually, the ideas of a book or a newspaper should be presented by its name. Whereas, from its Chinese name, there is no trace of the religion. The reason is that this translation of the name was influenced by the ideology in its current social context. If the preaching was not illegal then, the translation of its English name was likely to be closely connected with the religion, which can help missionaries to promote their religion to non-believers. “Translation are not made in a vacuum. Translators function in a given culture at a given time. The way they understand themselves and their culture is one of the factors that may influence the way in which they translate.”(Andrew Lefevere, 2004: 14) In such a cultural context, this translation of the name can not carry a lot of information associated with the newspaper itself because the shaping of western powerful culture has not formed yet. Foreign cultures didnt have impact on traditional Chinese culture then. And, the translation of this name was made to fit in with the dominant ideological currents, otherwise, this newspaper will be kept in the dark and covered with dust.

3. Conclusion

In the beginning of 19th century, China still boasted a well-known reputation.Western ideas, including its religion, are forbidden to spread in China. Thus, not a single missionary dared to highlight the concept of the religion in the translation of the name of their current press, though the content of it indeed served the purpose of disseminating religious information. However, after decades, western countries forced China to open its door by waging wars. The western missionaries had no necessary to develop Christians in secret under such circumstance. Therefore, religious ideas found expression in the translation of the name of their press. Thus, we can see that the ideology makes impacts on translations. Political factors, of course, as one important aspect of the ideology, play an role in the shaping of translation.


[1]Andre Lefevere.Translation,Rewriting and The Manipulation of Literary Fame[M].Shanghai:Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press,2004.