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Translation Quarterly

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Lawrence Venuti’s foreignization theory, with its link of translation strategy with power struggle, is one of the most influential theories in translation studies since the 1990s. At the same time, his theory has also been subject to heated debate due to its loosely defined terms, prescriptive approach, binary thinking, elitist tendency, and other issues. One issue stands out in particular: contrary to its goal of resistance against Anglo- American hegemony, foreignization can lead to its opposite—exoticism or Orientalism—under certain circumstances. In this paper, I examine the validity and application of Venuti’s foregnization theory in Ling Shuhua’s English autobiographical work Ancient Melodies. In Ling’s creative writing that embodies several forms of translation, foreignization is the dominant writing and translating strategy. By analysis, I argue that while Ling unwittingly breaks several binaries in translation studies, she deliberately creates the foreignizing effect with her careful maneuver of domestication. Ling’s highlighting of foreignizing strategy reveals her binary thinking, which displays deep roots in the power hierarchy of the West. In this way, it can be seen that foreignization strategy functions as a double-edged sword; in its open resistance against power, it is also deeply involved with and assists the power structure.


This article was archived with permission from Translation Quarterly, all rights reserved. Document also available from Hong Kong Translation Society.