Lin Deng

Culture’s Representation in Van Gulik’s Transcreated Novel The Chinese Maze Murders: A Multimodal Corpus Approach

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Arts and Humanities

The Chinese Maze Murders, a Chinese culture-based detective novel transcreated by Dutch sinologist Robert Hans van Gulik, represents Chinese cultures multimodally and reconciles Chinese-English cultural gaps effectively. Figuring out what cross-cultural functions and contributions of illustration-text multimodal combinations in The Chinese Maze Murders make would be inspiring for effectively promoting and applying multimodal ways in Chinese-English cultural translation. Yet, there is a scarcity of translation studies investigating it directly. This multimodal corpus-based study first identifies the different culture-representing features of the illustration-text multimodal combinations in the Chinese and English versions of The Chinese Maze Murders quantitatively, and then proposes the fundamental functions and contributions of illustration-text combinations that could facilitate cross-cultural translation qualitatively. The corpus textual statistics show that the Chinese version comprises 23.04% material cultural elements and 76.96% non-material cultural elements. While the English version comprises 36.58% material cultural elements and 63.42% non-material cultural elements. The different type-allocation of textually represented cultural elements in two language versions is regarded as an operating result of the mechanism of illustration-text multimodal combinations. Based on further retroductive corpus statistics-derived example analysis, it is argued that illustration-text multimodal combinations could facilitate cross-cultural translation in (a) transforming abstract cultural elements into concrete cultural elements, (b) integrating cultural elements as “meaning wholes,” and (c) visualizing cultural implications. This study sheds new light on the cultural functions of illustration-text multimodal combinations in translation, which provides practical implications for mitigating the cultural incommensurability of Chinese-English translation.

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