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By Yangfan Helynna Lin, VI Form
Preservation of Metaphor in Translation: Analyzing the Chinese Poet Su Shi
“Bad translations communicate too much” (1). In After Babel, George Steiner points out that a bad translation strips the original text of something important by unnecessarily applying new elements to the original text. In English translations of Chinese poems, one type of bad translation attempts at over-explaining the metaphors, or metaphorical objects, in the poem, which puts readers at the risk of accessing less information that the metaphor otherwise would have presented to the reader- – that is, a fuller image that the poem originally presents.
Let’s compare the following two translations of the same poem: Nian Nu Jiao: Chi Bi Huai Gu by Chinese poet Su Shi (2). *Literally translated into “Nian Nu Jiao: At Chi Bi Cherishing the Past”, with which Nian Nu Jiao is the tune that the poem rhymes.