LU XUN'S VIEW ON LANGUAGE Rasuleva N.A.

Shanghai University Tashkent


Номер: 6-1
Год: 2017
Страницы: 63-66
Журнал: Актуальные проблемы гуманитарных и естественных наук

Ключевые слова

Classical Chinese, language, thought

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Аннотация к статье

This paper tries to abstract Lu Xun’s ideas on language from his view on Chinese language and translation. It analyzes Lu Xun’s view language from three aspects: on the nature of language and western linguists’ views. It hopes to provide the readers with some insights in understanding the Lu Xun’s view on language.

Текст научной статьи

1. Introduction Lu Xun (or Lu Hsun) is known as the father of modern Chinese literature. His first story “A Madman’s Diary” (“狂人日记”) is considered as the first story in Modern Chinese literature. From that time, he greatly advocated the use of Modern Chinese in writing, which brought tremendous change to the reform of Chinese language. Therefore, he is considered as the founder of Modern Chinese. However, he was not a linguist and didn’t have any systematic theory on language, so in some way it is difficult for us to study his perception of language. This paper tries to abstract his ideas on language from his infiltrated use of language. Lu Xun had no works which illustrated his views on language, and he himself also claimed that he knew little about linguistics and the system of language, but we can draw his basic ideas about language from what he talked about language and the use of language from some of his articles, such as in the “Modern Slaughter” (“现在的屠杀者”), [2, 350] “The postscript to Grave” (“写在 坟 后面”), “The Silent Chinese” (“无声的中国”) and “About translation” (“关于翻译”). 2. Lu Xun’s view on the Nature Language On the nature of language, he held that language was not only the tool but also the thought itself. He thought that language has the function to express the reality, but the form of language is closely related to the reality of its times. He argued that classicality was the reality of ancient people and if one wanted to know something about it, he inevitably had to read the classical books. (“古典是古人的事,……免不了翻着古典”) [4, 382]. He called such people as “the modern slaughters”, who stubbornly insisted on using the Classical Chinese (“明明是现代人……将来是子孙的时代。”). From this, we can get the idea that Lu Xun had realized the deep interrelationship of language and thought. That is, the Classical Chinese is closely related to the ancient events, which is out of tune with the Modern Chinese and thought, and the old skills were corresponding with the old way of thinking and the new knowledge was closely related to the new thoughts, (“本领要新……如意的事”) [1, 335]. As to what is thought, he argued that thought is not something material but the language itself, and all conceptions, terminologies, categories and types of discourse can be considered as thought. 3. Lu Xun’s view on Classical Chinese Lu Xun believed that the Classical Chinese was outdate and should be abrogated, which was clearly expressed in his letter to his friend, Xu Shoutang, 1919, “If people wanted to survive, then the language should be discarded, and vice versa. In the contemporary society, the language had no room to survive”. (“汉文终当 去……无幸存之道。”). He held that the Classical Chinese had many demerits and should be abandoned. He thought “classical Chinese has no exact rules for literary writing or everyday talk and the key to literary creation is to avoid using familiar words and omit function words, and by this way, one is expected to write good articles. And when speaking, one often fails to express exactly what is intended to say. These are resulted from the poverty of expressions in the language, and as indicated by the phenomenon that a teacher has to use a chalk while giving a lecture. This shows the inexactitude of the Chinese grammar, which then demonstrates the inexactitude of the thought. If we stick to this kind of muddled-headed writing, ultimately one will only get a confused idea of what is being talked about, even if he can read it fluently (“中国的文或话……一个胡涂的影子”). The same idea is reflected in the following expression: “Because of the flawed legacy of the language, the majority of us have fallen victim to it as illiterate people for thousand of years. And China has become what it is today. When other countries are using rain-making technologies, we are still worshipping our snake/gods. So for the sake of the survival of the nation, I think, we should sacrifice the classical Chinese itself (“为了这方块的带病的遗产……牺牲了”) [6, 118]. He opposed the young to use the classical Chinese to write and usually told them that they should read less classical Chinese books more but more foreign articles (“我以为要少……多看外国书”), because he thought that the classical Chinese books were harmful to read (“中国古书,页页害人”) and the so called quintessence of traditional Chinese is nonsense (“中国国粹”, “等于放屁”。) [3, 336]. All these statements manifest that Lu Xun intended to renovate the Classical Chinese. He advocated the use of Modern Chinese, which was closely related to the modern China and could express the modern thought. How can the Modern Chinese replace the Classical Chinese? Lu Xun thought translation was one of the ways to improve Chinese language. 4. Lu Xun’s view on Translation In his early works, he adopted the way of free translation, but later, he thought that his early translation was not mature. He regretted that he, at that time, didn’t adopt the way of literal translation, for he thought he tried to be a smart by doing that. He began to use literal translation in his work “The Collection of Foreign Novels” (“域外小说集”) and kept the way of translation to do his later translation. He literally translated almost the all the sentences and tried to keep the mood of the original text. Sometimes, the literal translation makes his works hard to read, so he paid special attention to the readability of works and maintained that translation should be easily understood and at the same time, it should keep the flavor of the original text. But if the two can’t maintain at the same time, he put the faithfulness in the first place. He preferred the way of literal translation because he thought that literal translation could introduce the new ways of expression, which could remedy the disfigurements of Chinese to clearly and accurately express ideas. As he pointed out that the grammar of the Classical Chinese was not enough to use and Chinese language not only should absorb the neologies but also the new grammars. In the “Letter about Translation” (“关于翻译的通信”), [7, 351] he said he wanted to equip Chinese language with foreign grammar and syntax trough translation, and then it would absorb it and the new grammar and syntax would become part of it. Lu Xun held that the Classical Chinese was characterized by the short sentences and simple structures, which couldn’t sufficiently express the complicated thought and the reality of modern China. He wanted to introduce the long sentence structure of the western language to improve Chinese and its ability of dealing with difficult things, so when translating, he didn’t divide a long sentence into several short ones and even he seldom changed the sequence of the words. As for the “Europeanized discourse” (“欧化文”), the degree of “Europeanization” (“欧化”) was subject to discussion. Lu Xun didn’t think that all the “Europeanized discourses” were good, but the development of the modern Chinese was in great need of nourishments from other languages. Lu Xun supported “Europeanized discourses” to create a better environment for the development of the Modern Chinese. Lu Xun didn’t agree with people who intentionally imitated the way of western writing and speaking to make theirs look like Europeanized. Lu Xun argued that language was dynamic and different times had different languages. This idea can be drawn from his view on some aspects of translation and his view on the Classical Chinese, for example, he provoked second-hand translation and retranslation which can improve the previous translations of the same discourse. In the early works, he employed the Classical Chinese to do translation, but later, he used the modern Chinese, as he realized its limitation. He held that the change of times needed new variety of language to be seasoned with it, so he discarded the Classical Chinese and advocated the use of Modern Chinese in writing. Later he and other intellectuals initiated the movement of Latinization. To be concluded, the methods Lu Xun adopted in translation are closely related to his view on language. From his pieces of talk on translation here and there, we can draw his view on language. He held that language was dynamic; he opposed the opinion of egotism on language, and argued that different language could influence each other and one language should take the advantage of the others to make up its own disadvantages. 5. The Comparison of Language Views between Lu Xun and Western Linguists Lu Xun’s view on the nature of language is very similar to the initial formulation of the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis. It says that language is a guide to “social reality” and it powerfully conditions all our thinking about social problems and processes. It also holds that it is quite an illusion to imagine that one adjusts to reality essentially without the use of language and that language is merely an incidental means of solving specific problems of communication or reflection [5, 556]. Lu Xun’s view goes that language is not only the tool but also the thought itself. As a tool, it is used to communicate ideas and express social reality, but the form of language is closely related to the reality of its times because a certain form of language can only reflect the reality of its own times and hardly can express the realities in different times. They also share the similarity on the relationship of language and thought, but it seems that Lu Xun didn’t point out clearly whether language shapes the way of our thinking or vice verse while the Spair-Whorf had clear statement about it. Lu Xun paid too more attention to the western language and culture. His negation on the Classical Chinese and panegyric to the western language seems too drastic, which only takes the western discourse and methodology as the paradigm and seldom considers the non-Western, methodological traditions, let alone the adoption of non-Western methods at an international academic level. Lu Xun’s view on translation is the reflection of Benjamin thought. Benjamin held that to make the source language as the target language was not worth the praise, and especially when the original discourse is produced, word to word translation, is more important, because different language should be interact with each other and take the advantages of others to improve itself. Conclusion In conclusion, we can get Lu Xun’s ideas on language from what he talked about the Chinese language, translation and also the relationship of Classical Chinese and Modern Chinese in his works. And, in some degree, his idea shares some similarities with that of some western linguists.

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