Data-Based Analysis of Features of Chinese Translation of Emily Dickinson’s Poems in China: A Case Study of Translation Book I Dwell in Possibility

Data-based analysis, Emily Dickinson’s poems, Chinese translation, Features.


  • Jianxin Zhou
    Professor, School of Foreign Languages, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China
  • Jing Huang MA in School of Public Administration, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China
July 15, 2022


Emily Dickinson international symposium(2014), held at Fudan University, Shanghai, China, summoned attendees to join an international collaborative translation project. About 60 scholars and translators from China and abroad were divided into 21 groups and translated altogether 104 Emily Dickinson's poems into Chinese, hence the collection, I Dwell in Possibility(2017). This first cross-cultural, cross-profession collaborative effort in the history of translation of Emily Dickinson's poems in China is the latest and most vivid illustration of the features of translation of Dickinson's poems in contemporary China. Data collection and analysis are carried on over the following five aspects in order to summarize features of the translation book, or in other words, features of translation of Emily Dickinson's poems in contemporary China: 1) difference in word number between translated texts and original texts; 2) the number of addition and omission cases in translation; 3) application of four-character structure in translation; 4) rhyme correspondence between original and translated texts; and lastly, 5) translation of dash. It is found that the total number of the Chinese character of translation is more than that of English original words, yet it is within a normal scope. And the fewer words the original poem has, the more words (characters) the target text may be. With regard to addition and omission, adding words in translation can be found the most frequently, especially adding verbs, yet in most cases, addition and omission do not debase obviously the quality of translation. 20 groups of translators used a four-character structure in more than half of the 104 translated texts, thus making translation lively and vivid and with a familiar style. Only about 1/3 of translated poems rhyme in corresponding places with original poems. In the translation of dashes, most of the translated texts basically keep the original dashes. It is concluded that the word number of Chinese translation is more than that of the original text, so simplicity will be affected to some extent. Adding words is an important means of making Chinese translation clear. The use of a four-character structure is a remarkable feature of Chinese translation whose effect is, for the most part, positive. There is still much room for improvement in terms of rhyme translation. Punctuation marks, mainly dashes, seldom cause conflicts in translation.