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This paper proposes a possible concept of 'cultural untranslatability' in translation, focusing on what it is, how important it is, and when it occurs. The paper first explores cultural concepts for understanding of culture. The second part examines Hofstede's cultural dimensions and establishes an experimental definition of cultural difference. Drawing on actual translations between English and Japanese, the third part discusses the importance of the concept. Finally, it considers under what circumstances such untranslatable items are de facto culturally untranslatable, borrowing the concept of translation norms. The paper concludes that cultural untranslatability is an important, useful concept for translation between languages with a great cultural difference, and the notion of correctness peculiar to a socio-cultural context in a specific culture is the deciding factor in cultural untranslatability.
Kitamura, Kanji. Cultural Untranslatability. Translation Journal, 13, 3: , 2009. Retrieved from Loyola eCommons, Modern Languages and Literatures: Faculty Publications and Other Works,
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© Translation Journal and the Author 2009.