Translation of Culture-Specific Items in Hongloumeng From Functionalist

Qianqian Wei


Hongloumeng is a great classical Chinese novel written in the mid-eighteenth century, which is also regarded as one of the greatest novels in the world by Encyclopedia Britannica. It not only presents the corruption and decadence of the feudal ruling class and points out its inevitable doom, but also gives praise to the democratic spirit. Apart from this, it displays Chinese culture so comprehensively that it is called the encyclopedia of Chinese traditional culture. The novel is full of culture-specific items whose translation is a great challenge to translators. Functionalist translation theory breaks the fetters of linguistic perspective, providing a new angle to translation. Based on Nida’s classification of culture, this paper will discuss the applicability of functionalist translation theory to literary translation, with the comparison of the two English versions- The Story of the Stone translated by David Hawkes, a British sinologist and translator, together with John Minford and A Dream of Red Mansions by Yang Hsien-yi, a famous Chinese translator, and Gladys Yang.


Translation; Culture-specific items; Hongloumeng; Functionalist perspective

Full Text:



Cao, X. Q., & Gao, E. (2011). Hongloumeng. Beijing: Central Compilation & Translation Press.

Hawkes, D., & Minford, J. (1973). The story of the stone. London: Penguin Books.

Nida, E. A. (1964). Towards a science of translating: With special reference to principles and procedures involved in Bible translating. Leiden: Brill.

Nida, E. A., & Taber, C. R. (1969). The theory and practice of translation. Leiden: E. J. Brill.

Nord, C. (2001). Translating as a purposeful activity: Functionalist approaches explained. Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press.

Sun, D. Y. (1999). Selected English poems rendered into Chinese verse. Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press.

Yang, X. Y., & Yang, G. (2003). A dream of red mansions. Beijing: Foreign Languages Press.



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