cultural perspective

Part I. Translation studies from a cultural perspective

1.1 Insights of cultural studies related to translation

It is noted by a number of researchers that in recent years there has been“a shift in translation studies from linguistically oriented approaches to culturally oriented ones" (House, 2002: 92). Researchers of translation studies and culture studies have shown increasing interests in the other field by adopting concepts and theories as effective tools to promote its own development. As part of the contributions to the developments of translation studies, some of the findings of culture studies have been borrowed so as to assist the analysis of culture-related phenomenon in translation, which has been proved to be effective and enlightening.

1.1.1 Definitions and features of culture

As a multidisciplinary field, the discipline of culture studies views rapid developments during the last few decades, the achievements of which might cast some light on such discipline as translation studies.

The studies of cultural related issues have a long history, whereas the notion of culture didn't emerge till the German and English Romantic movements. The Romanticists held that each nation or national language possessed its special character or "spirit" that "sums up the experience and history of a people", which came close to a theory of culture (Cited in Nuttall, 2000, 37). , From different points of views, definition of culture varies. One of the most frequently quoted definitions of culture is that of Edward Burnett Tylor's, and the English anthropologist holds that "Culture is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, customs and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society" (Cited in Katan: 2004:16). A more recent version showing its close relationship with language is provided by Peter Newmark who maintains that culture is "the way of life and its manifestations that are peculiar to a community that uses a particular language as its means of expression" (2001:94).

Culture is universal in that it exists in every human community, whereas it is also uniquebecause each community is marked with a certain culture which differentiates itself from other communities. Both the nature of universality and uniqueness of culture contribute to the possibilities and the significance of translation across cultural boundaries.

1.1.2 Cultural capital

Among various theories adopted by researchers of translation studies, the major thoughts of Pierre Bourdieu deserve special attention, especially his concept of "culture capital" that has been adopted by Andre Lefevere in his distinction of various translation objectives. Pierre Bourdieu (1930一2002), a French sociologist, anthropologist, and cultural theorist, has made conspicuous achievements in many domains in humanities and social science, with a strong sense of political commitment and a wide range of cultural interests. Not only literature but art, photography, television, journalism, access to museums and art galleries, the funding of the arts, problems of aesthetic taste all come within his researches.

One of the most important concepts raised by Bourdieu is the notion of "cultural capital". In comparison with the term "economic capital" which has been widely known through Marxism, the concept of "cultural capital" received much controversy upon its birth.