“Hard” Translation and Communication Effects and the Influencing Elements of English Translations of Li Bai’s Poems in America

  •  Hongjing Chang    
  •  Malini Ganapathy    
  •  Mohamed Abdou Moindjie    
  •  Chen Jiao    


To create a human community with a shared future, cultural exchanges between countries should be enhanced. Efforts should be made to sort out traditional Chinese cultural resources and bring ancient books back to life to “tell better and more accurate stories and make China’s voice heard” (Xi, 2020, p. 365). Classical Chinese poetry has been an important window to help overseas readers to understand China. Li Bai’s poems, as representative of classical Chinese poetry, have been widely translated in the English-speaking world, but the translation and communication (TC) effects remain unclear. This study attempts to investigate the “hard” TC effects of English translations of Li Bai’s poems in America by firstly retrieving the sales rankings of 16 English translations containing the most Li Bai’s poems from 18 representative translators of Li Bai’s poems in the world-famous online bookstore Amazon and secondly analyzing customer reviews from Amazon and reader reviews from the world’s largest reading website Goodreads. Mix methods, both quantitative bibliographic survey and qualitative text analysis, were used in the research. Research shows that although sales rankings are relatively low, Li Bai’s poems have a certain number of fixed readers in America. Four English translations of Li Bai’s poems made by Ezra Pound, David Hinton, Arthur Cooper and Ha Jin have been well received by target readers with good TC effects. Among the six influencing elements of the TC effect of Li Bai’s poems—TC motivation, TC subject, TC control, TC content, TC channel and TC audience, readers pay much more attention to TC control and TC content. Therefore, to achieve a better TC effect on Chinese literature, the Chinese government and concerned institutions should scientifically formulate policies on the above-mentioned six TC elements, especially on text selection and translation strategy. This research will contribute to the communication effect of translated Chinese literature and serve as a reference for the TC undertakings of literature from other non-English speaking countries, thus promoting equal cultural communication among countries.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1925-4768
  • ISSN(Online): 1925-4776
  • Started: 2011
  • Frequency: quarterly

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