Date of Award
Miya Qiong Xie
Vietnam during French colonialism (1861-1945) was a site of hybrid enunciations that displayed tensions with multiple languages (Chinese, Vietnamese, French) and multiple scripts (classical Chinese, Nôm script, Quốc Ngữ, and French) while existing under the influence of various powers (the Nguyễn feudal dynasty, the French colonial government, and the nascent Democratic Republic of Vietnam). The array of choices reflected a state of confusion in which every decision made by Vietnamese translators was inherently political. This eccentric hybridity is well exemplified in translations by Phạm Quỳnh 范瓊 (1892-1945), a late Nguyễn dynasty monarchist and early French colonial collaborator.
My paper proposes a reimagining of Phạm Quỳnh’s translation of French literature into Vietnamese as an instance of transculturation, purposefully steering away from implicating him in the “dịch/giả” (translator as traitor) trope. His writings defy the existing methodology of literary translation as a matter of establishing correspondences between two languages or writing systems and cannot be subsumed under the tripartite translational dichotomies of monolingualism versus multilingualism, fidelity versus infidelity, and visibility versus invisibility. Instead, by tracing the orchestration of Phạm Quỳnh’s translingual practice and cultural politics, I situate his creative work within a “French-East Asian transculturation network.” Phạm Quỳnh interpretively negotiated with the dominant ideology of French colonialism, interlingually recycled Vietnamese nationalism of Quốc Ngữ, and intertextually weaved transposed fragments of Chinese Confucianism and Japanese modernism into his own multiscriptal nation-state and multilingual Franco-Sinosphere. He asserted himself as a “co-creator” [người phóng tác] in the transmission of knowledge, or what I termed “Vietnamization,” by interacting with multiple ideologies, languages, and scripts all at once.
Pham, Camellia, "Colonial Translation Turned Vietnamization: Phạm Quỳnh and the Discourse of Transculturation" (2023). Comparative Literature M.A. Essays. 16.
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