IMAGES OF SHULAMITE IN THE CHINESE TRANSLATIONS OF THE BIBLE (1822 ‒ 2004)
Languages of publication
The aim of this essay is to present an analysis of a few verses of the biblical Song of Songs (Šir hašširim) eleven from the many Chinese translations produced in the years 1822 ‒ 2004. Three of them were rendered into shen wenli high wenli language, used by missionaries, but not by Chinese or foreign scholars for wenyan one into qian wen-li easy wen-li which was a lower kind of it, but understandable for many educated Chinese readers, and the last six translated into guoyu or guanhua Mandarin. It is only a small part of all the translations into Chinese, but they show the development from mostly following the European translations sticking to the style and sentence order of the biblical originals, to the first attempts at renditions that tried to be more genuinely Chinese, paying more attention to the rhythm of Chinese prose and poetry. The best specimens are probably the translations by the Delegates’ and by Schereschewsky. Among the six translations into vernacular, analysed in this contribution, the Guanhua heheben Mandarin Union Version from the year 1919 is the most popular and influential, but many others have tried to find sympathy among the millions of Chinese readers in the last decades. The most progressive method of translation used in China is the “dynamic or functional equivalence” proposing that the message is to be made understandable to the readers of the target language. More conservative translators use the method of “formal equivalence”, where the source languages of the Bible are more important, and attempts to convey their forms and contents to their readers.
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