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Explicitation and the Verbal-Visual Interplay in the Chinese translation of English Picture Storybooks: A Case Study of Five Series
picture storybooks,translation,word-picture relationship,children’s literature,explicitation,
In Taiwan, research on the Chinese translation of picture storybooks primarily focuses on the translation of “text” in a traditional sense – that is, printed words. Scholars have examined the word-picture relationship, but have focused narrowly on whether the information in the translated text matches the pictures. In addition, it is often thought that the word-picture relationship remains unchanged in translation, since the pictures stay the same.
Arguing that the word-picture relationship changes in translation, I conduct a comparative and textual analysis of five picture storybooks series translated into Chinese and their original English versions. The five series of picture storybooks are: Maurice Sendak’s trilogy, Harry the Dog series written by Gene Zion and illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham, Little Bear series written by Else Holmelund Minarik and illustrated by Maurice Sendak, Anthony Browne’s White Bear with a Magic Pencil series, and Ian Falconer’s Olivia the Pig series.
The research reviewed existing taxonomies of word-picture relationship for picture storybooks, identified their strengths and weaknesses, and utilized their strengths in terms of how they name and describe various word-picture interplay to examine the word-picture interaction in the five picture storybooks series. Secondly, the research documented the changes in the verbal-visual relationship detected in the Chinese translations of picture storybooks, and observed the features of each change. Changes with similar features were categorized into different groups, and were analyzed in terms of possible causes and effects.
The thesis claims that the word-picture relationship is likely to change in the translation of picture storybooks, and the translating approach that changes the relationship can be characterized as explicitation. Specifically, translators tend to make visual information explicit in the verbal text, filling in the gaps between words and pictures in the original text. Moreover, explicitation in the verbal translation is found when the word-picture relationships in the corresponding source texts are: (1) pictures clarifying words and (2) pictures elaborating words. Besides, visual information shown later in the source text is moved forward to the previous page and presented earlier in the verbal translation. Since the visual information is explicitated, readers of the translation are no longer required to “read” pictures carefully and might heavily rely on words to understand the story. Due to the explicitation, Chinese translations of picture storybooks are more explicit and direct, and thus leave less room for interpreting the corresponding pictures. In addition, the explicitation sometimes turns out be a spoiler, giving away important details beforehand. Finally, the thesis provides an integrated explanation for the causes of the explicitation, by drawing on previous research, but also proposing a possible historical account of the development of picture storybooks in Taiwan.
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