Hedges and boosters as indicators of translation style: With reference to fictional dialogues in Hongloumeng translations

Kanglong Liu, Ho Ling Kwok, Riccardo Moratto

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingChapter in an edited book (as author)Academic researchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This exploratory study examines how two different translators of Hongloumeng, i.e., David Hawkes (who translated the first 80 chapters, while John Minford translated the last 40 chapters) and Yang Xianyi (together with his wife Gladys Yang), used hedges and boosters to translate the fictional dialogues in this classic Chinese novel. As hedges and boosters are communicative strategies for modifying the illocutionary force of speech acts and showing the speaker’s attitude to audience, they are highly relevant to fictional dialogues which exhibit characters’ interactions and speech acts. Since translation involves rendering a textual message across two cultures, the translator’s interpretation of the original dialogues may alter characters’ speech acts and characterizations. Based on a corpus compiled by extracting the fictional dialogues from the two Hongloumeng translations, our study found that Hawkes used more hedges and boosters than the Yangs in translating the fictional dialogues. It is believed that the differences in translation styles can be attributed to the translators’ language backgrounds, translation practices and socio-cultural backgrounds. The findings also imply the differences in terms of the respective translator’s awareness and approach to characterization building in the translated novel.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDream of the Red Chamber
Subtitle of host publicationLiterary and Translation Perspectives
EditorsRiccardo Moratto, Kanglong Liu, Di-kai Chao
PublisherTaylor and Francis Ltd.
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781000812374
ISBN (Print)9781032284309
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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