More Than Linguistic Mediation: De/Gendering Pronouns for Animals in Works Translated into English

More Than Linguistic Mediation: De/Gendering Pronouns for Animals in Works Translated into English

To what extent should a translator of literary works mediate culturally relevant information when translating from a source language into a target language such as English? How do translation decisions simultaneously pose challenges of unintentional cultural appropriation and create opportunities for more effective intercultural connectedness? Using examples of ethnic minority women’s environmental writings in China, the presenter will discuss pros and cons when translating third-person singular pronouns for animals in multiple linguistic and cultural border spaces, where multiethnic groups in China and indigenous environmental activists and those advocating a
new scale of animacy in the United States share similar but also different views of interspecies relationship. For example, most ethnic groups in China use 它 (it) for animals, but some do not use any pronouns for animals. How does this complicate translation decisions? With the discussion, the presenter aims to weave an ethnolinguistic strand into critical dialogues about interspecies relationship against “linguistic imperialism”(”(Kimmerer 2015) and of translation as “central to feminist praxis” (Collins 2017).

  • Dong Isbister, Women’s and Gender Studies, UW-Platteville

 

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