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Multiculturalism, Literature and Translation in East Asia

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Organizer: Tzu-yu Lin

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This seminar invites papers exploring a broad spectrum of theoretical, methodological and empirical questions about multilingualism, literary translation and meaning making in East Asia. As claimed by Martin Maiden, Chiara Cappellaro and Aditi Lahiri (2020: 69), “we are more multilingual than we think”. Katrin Kohl and Wen-chin Ouyang (2020) also assert that all human beings are in some way multilingual, and we should see multilingualism as the norm in social interactions. Defined in contrast to “monolingualism”, multilingualism usually refers to the acquisition and use of languages at a high level of fluency, though it is sometimes used flexibly with the term “plurilingual”, which puts less emphasis on the level of fluency attained (Kohl and Ouyang 2020: 4). If we define “languages” more broadly – to include registers, dialects, accents and ways of speaking – we find that multilingualism is normal in our daily lives, and switching between “languages” is an ability built into human’s DNA (ibid.:5). We should, therefore, respect multilingualism and promote language diversity in our societies. Yet, translators, as bi/multilingual authors and communicators, often give credence to the traditional monolingual premise and believe that “the meaning” of a source/original text can be carried across into a new target language. As Matthew Reynolds et al. (2020) argued, new meanings and new words will always be devised creatively during the process of translation, and therefore, considering translation as prism allows us to see the divergences and alternative standards of languages. For Ouyang (2020: 110-113), multiculturalism allows languages to interact with each other, and through the translation of “language-in-dialogue”, new worldviews, motifs, cultures, languages and literatures can thus travel around the world.

Please sent an abstract of 300 words on the topics of exploring bi/multilingual models of literary translation in different linguistic strand settings in East Asia. Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:


  • Multilingualism and world literature

  • Multilingualism and postcolonial/diasporic literature

  • Bi/multilingualism and translation

  • Translation and world literature

  • Multilingualism and the minority

  • Translating dialects and/or non-standard languages

  • Translatability and untranslatability



Accepted papers will have an opportunity to get their work published in the edited volume of Routledge Studies in East Asia Studies book series: Multilingualism, Literature and Translation in East Asia.

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