Translator positioning in characterisation: a corpus-based study of English translations of Luotuo Xiangzi

Minru Zhao, Dechao Li

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Luotuo Xiangzi, a renowned modern Chinese novel, successfully portrays a young rickshaw puller in Beijing–Xiangzi. Upon its translation into English at the end of World War II, the protagonist aroused much sympathy from American readers. As a best seller in the United States, the novel has been retranslated many times. A contributing factor to its popularity is the creation of the memorable protagonist. The paper investigates the role of translator positioning in constructing the character. It proposes a systematic framework that incorporates Appraisal and characterisation models. An analysis of the Chinese text and three English translations suggests that the positioning or value orientation adopted by the translators plays a significant role in their characterisation and demonstrates how a mixed model can clarify this interaction. Furthermore, the corpus-based method makes it possible to reveal patterns of translator positioning hidden in the translations.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPerspectives: Studies in Translation Theory and Practice
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • characterisation
  • Luotuo Xiangzi
  • translator positioning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory

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