Politics and Poetics in Translation : Accounting for a Chinese Version of ‘Yes Prime Minister’

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

14 Scopus Citations
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-272
Journal / PublicationTranslator
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1998
Externally publishedYes


Using largely acceptability-oriented strategies, the author of this article wished his Chinese translation of ‘Yes Prime Minister’ to be a well-formed literary text in the target system and a satire on Chinese politics by way of allegory. It posed a challenge to the dominant translation poetics that favours adequacy, and also to the dominant ideology that upholds loyalty to those in power. After a description of the socio-cultural background–including the political situation, the system of literary patronage and the translation tradition, the skopos and constraints of translating, and translation strategies–this paper demonstrates that in the Chinese context an acceptability-oriented translation can be a non-transparent text that makes the translator visible, reforming rather than being conservative with regard to certain traditional values in the target culture, and rebelling against the majority culture from which the text is appropriated.