On Compensation for Cultural Default in Literary Translation

Yuying LI, Ying LUO


Translation is a type of transformation both from language and cultural levels. Due to the cultural disparity between the source language and the target language, cultural default is inevitable to some extent. Cultural default is defined as the absence of relevant cultural background knowledge shared by the writer and his intended readers. Translation compensation is of great necessity to make up for the loss resulted from cultural default in an effort to allow the target readers to appreciate the original text as the source readers. A qualified translator is expected to possess corresponding bilingual and bicultural competence, identify the existence of cultural default and exercise appropriate compensation strategies so as to bridge the gap between the original author and the target readers. Based upon the analysis of some typical examples from literary translation, the study proposes some corresponding compensation strategies such as annotation, contextual amplification, adaptation and paraphrase to make up for cultural vacancy, aiming to expand the translator’s competence to compensate for cultural default and promote cultural transmission.


Literary translation; Cultural default; Compensation strategies

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/10487


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