Same Chan master, different images: multi-functional analysis of the story of Huineng and its translations

Hailing Yu, Canzhong Wu

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Based on the theoretical framework of systemic functional linguistics (SFL), the study analyses meaning and meaning reproduction in the story of Huineng and its different English translations (Wong 1930, Heng 1977, Cleary 1998, Cheng 2011) from the experiential, interpersonal and textual perspectives. These three strands of meaning are closely related to the image of Huineng by depicting what he does, how he interacts with others and how the story unfolds. It has been found that variation in meaning, which is the result of translation shifts, leads to the recreation of different images of the same Chan master in different translated texts. Experientially, the suppression of Huineng’s role as the Actor and the increase of his role as the Sayer, the Receiver and the Carrier in Wong’s translation help to produce an image of Huineng that is less active. Interpersonally, the low status of Huineng is more or less lost in translations by Cleary and Wong where most of the original terms of address are simply rendered as “I” and “you”. Textually, Huineng talks in a more cohesive way in all the translations than in the source text with an increase of textual, interpersonal and marked topical Themes.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)143-180
    Number of pages38
    JournalThe Journal of translation studies
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


    • systemic functional linguistics
    • experiential
    • interpersonal
    • textual
    • translation


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