Are translated Chinese Wuxia fiction and western heroic literature similar? A stylometric analysis based on stylistic panoramas

Kan Wu, Dechao Li

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


This study investigates the extent to which English translations of Chinese Wuxia fiction and Western heroic literature in modern English are stylistically similar through stylometric analyses. It adds to literary translation research by highlighting possible stylistic connections between heroic literature in the East and that in the West, clues that may help understand the current reception of Wuxia translations. It also contributes to stylometric studies by introducing the stylistic panorama, a novel concept proposed to describe the stylistic picture of a (translated) text in a relatively holistic and functional way. Examining six English translations of Wuxia novels and twelve chivalric stories and heroic fantasies in modern English, the study finds that the Wuxia translations differ from the two Western subgenres in stylistic panoramas built by formal features (dispersion of word lengths, average sentence length, etc.), as well as the most frequent words and the most frequent word-sequences. Such differences have foregrounded the unique stylistic features (richer Wuxia-specific vocabularies, shorter paragraph lengths, etc.) of these translations, which has contributed in part to their favorable reception among English-speaking readers. It is hoped that this study will encourage new applications for the concept of stylistic panoramas in future stylometric studies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDigital Scholarship in the Humanities
Publication statusPublished - 23 Apr 2022

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