The advocacy of cultural change through translation

The rhetoric of Chinese sutra translators

Authored by: Weixiao Wei , Hui Shi

The Routledge Handbook of Chinese Studies

Print publication date:  May  2021
Online publication date:  May  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367181390
eBook ISBN: 9780429059704
Adobe ISBN:


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This article introduces a Rhetorical Model of Translation that uses Aristotle’s three modes of persuasion to explain the ideology and passion behind Chinese monk translators’ sutra translation outputs and strategies. We argue that there is a wealth of Chinese discourse on translation which can be adequately explained by the Rhetorical Model of Translation and subsequently developed into translation theory to systematically account for the significant wave of Chinese translation. In this article, the backgrounds and achievements of four prominent monk translators are introduced. The translation strategies, theory, and ideology used, proposed, and held by these translators are discussed. We demonstrate how the overall performance of these sutra translators can only be understood when all three modes of rhetorical appeals are taken into consideration. We also show how the Rhetorical Model of Translation is superior to other translation theory in accounting for the behavior of Chinese translators of particular genres.

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