Acclaimed as one of the Four Great Classical Novels of the Chinese literature, Hongloumeng by Cao Xueqin has long been a subject of academic importance in the area of Chinese literary studies. Over the years, translation researchers have come up with insightful observations in their comparative study of the two full-length translations of the novel, one by Hawkes and Minford (the Story of the Stone, Penguin, 1973-1986) and the other by Xianyi Yang and Gladys Yang (A Dream of Red Mansions, Foreign Languages Press, 1978-1980). The proposed study systematically investigates the formulaic language of both translations as a feature of translator style using corpus-based methods. In this study, the 3-word and 4-word lexical bundles were extracted and systematically analysed to shed light on how they differ in translator style. The findings show that Hawkes’ translation tends to use a greater number and variety of lexical bundles than Yangs’ version, which is to a large extent determined by the different translation strategies used by the respective translators. In view of the research findings, it is proposed that formulaic language can serve as a robust indicator for studying translation/translator style.
Kanglong Liu is Assistant Professor at the Department of Chinese and Bilingual Studies of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.