English Translations of Chapter One of the Tao Te Ching: An Interpretation from the Perspective of Intercultural Communication

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Stephen Zhongqing Wu


This paper cites three English translations of chapter one of the Tao Te Ching by three translators from three distinct cultures, namely Arthur Waley from the UK, R. B. Blakney from the US, and D. C. Lau from Hong Kong, China, and examines the cultural interpretation of these translations from the perspective of intercultural communication. The paper analyzes the English translation of the Chinese word “道”(Dao) with application of the theory of cultural adaptation in intercultural communication for renditions of the Chinese original into English, hence making the target text culturally equivalent and relevant to the source text. Through a probe into the cultural backgrounds reflected in these three English translations, the Speech Code Theory in intercultural communication is utilized for analyzing the translation of the second sentence in chapter one of the Tao Te Ching. These translations helped to bridge cultural differences in translations by adopting the shared speech codes. The paper also emphasizes the importance of intercultural communication for translators and/or interpreters in terms of effective cultural, strategy-based tools for successful translation and interpretation.

Published: Nov 14, 2022

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Translating Difference The other in Other Words