Domestication and Foreignization in Idiom Translation

Essay by guohongli November 2008

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AbstractIdioms are fixed expressions or phrases and often carry meanings which can not be deduced from their individual components. In a broad sense, idioms include set phrase, slang, proverbs, allusions, colloquialisms and so on. An idiom, the essence of a language, is deeply embedded in culture, and thus culture-loaded. In idiom translation, how to convey the cultural connotation has always been considered the most difficult part. Generally, there are two strategies adopted to translate idioms which are domestication and foreignization.

Domestication demands a closeness of the translation to the reader’s language to achieve the goal of smoothness. In domestication a transparent, fluent style is adopted in order to minimize the strangeness of the foreign text for target language readers. The “foreignness” in the source text will be weakened or even removed, which is not good for people’s better understanding about another culture. Nowadays communication between different nations becomes much more frequent with advancement of science and technology.

Foreignization requires the translator to express the author’s idea in a way that is similar to the usage and expression in the author’s language. Some idioms are beyond people who are not natives, because they have a strong national feature or relate to a myth or allusion. Under such circumstances, the method can be adopted, the meaning will be clear and readers will get a better comprehension about idiom as well as the culture.

It is believed combining these strategies can make translation more valuable. And both of the strategies can make translation acceptable and full of colorful culture.

Keywordsdomestication; foreignization; idiom translation; culture“”ContentsAcknowledgementsiAbstractiiiii1. Introduction12. A brief Introduction of Idiom22.1 The Definition of Idiom22.2 The Relationship between Idiom and Culture32.3 Cultural Differences in Chinese and English Idioms32.3.1 Differences in Association42.3.2 Differences in Custom52.3.3 Differences in Religion62.3.4 Differences in Culture Background Knowledge73. Domestication and...