Ye, Mao (2015) Evaluating English translations of ancient Chinese poetry with special reference to image schemas and foregrounding. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

Poetry translation evaluation from ancient Chinese to English has been subjective in China. This is caused by the indefinable and intangible notion of ‘poetic spirit’, which is often used in influential translators’ criteria, and by the lack of a systematic investigation of translation evaluation. The problem of subjective criteria has remained unresolved for nearly a century. In order to improve the subjective criteria of poetry translation evaluation, this thesis is an attempt to make objective evaluations of the English translations of an ancient Chinese poem using stylistic theories. To make an objective criticism, it is necessary to offer evidence which is based on systematic and reliable criteria and replicable evaluation procedures. By applying stylistic theories to both the source text and the target texts, it is possible to make a judgement based on the stylistic features found in the texts themselves. Thus, objective evaluation of poetry translation from ancient Chinese to English can be made. This research is qualitative with the data consisting of one ancient Chinese poem as the source text and six English translations as the target texts. It carries out stylistic analyses on the data with two approaches based on the cognitive stylistic concept of figure and ground and the linguistic stylistic theory of foregrounding. The target texts are judged by the evidence of locative relations and foregrounding features. This research also explores and proposes a practical framework for poetry translation. The research findings suggest how to make objective poetry translation evaluations and improve translation techniques. They also point out the need to integrate stylistics with translation evaluation to make improvements in the field.

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