Selection Bias and Chinese Translation

Wednesday September 27, 2023
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM

Not everything can be translated, and selection of translated texts is neither a neutral nor a random process. This presentation considers selection bias in four cases of translation involving Chinese. The first case considers the arrival of Chinese narratives in European languages vs. Southeast Asian languages; the second considers the choice of Indonesian texts for translation into Chinese in the early PRC; the third considers practices of self-translation; and the fourth draws on Dr. Stenberg’s recent experiences translating contemporary Chinese-language literature, including the poet Jiang Tao, the PRC novelist Su Tong and Taiwanese queer author Chen Xue. His purpose in presenting such an eclectic mix of translations and transmissions is to draw attention to the ideological and economic forces as well as interpersonal networks that generate the motion of literary texts into and out of Chinese.

Josh Stenberg is a Senior Lecturer in Chinese Studies at the University of Sydney and a holder of a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award from the Australian Research Council. He is the author of Minority Stages: Sino-Indonesian Performance and Public Display (2019) and Liyuanxi: Chinese ‘Pear Garden’ Theatre (2022) as well as the translator of five books of contemporary Chinese literature.