Translating ‘humor’ into Chinese culture

Translating ‘humor’ into Chinese culture Abstract The Chinese term youmo for humor is a translated neologism in modern Chinese. It was Lin Yutang who first coined the term in 1924 and introduced and promoted the idea of humor into Chinese culture. Lin's translating ‘humor’ into youmo was a conscious cross-cultural act that mediates and appropriates cultural meaning between East and West. By way of cross-cultural translation, ‘humor’ as youmo takes on a multicultural meaning which not only enriches the notion of humor but also offers an aesthetic alternative to Chinese modernity through creative transformation of Chinese cultural tradition. After recognizing the Western reference of youmo , especially George Meredith's notion of the “comic spirit,” I will show how youmo intends to find a middle ground for Chinese modernity in which Chinese literature and culture can shake off shackles of moral pomposity while still maintaining a gentlemanly style or taste. The primary means for Lin to achieve that purpose is to re-interpret traditional Chinese culture, both Taoist and Confucianist, along humorous lines. And it is in such cross-cultural interaction that Lin Yutang developed his philosophical notion of youmo as “tolerant irony” based on the Taoist ironical stance towards life as well as the Confucian “Spirit of Reasonableness.” http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Humor: International Journal of Humor Research de Gruyter

Translating ‘humor’ into Chinese culture

Humor: International Journal of Humor Research, Volume 20 (3) – Aug 21, 2007

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Publisher
de Gruyter
Copyright
Copyright © 2007 by the
ISSN
0933-1719
eISSN
1613-3722
DOI
10.1515/HUMOR.2007.014
Publisher site
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Abstract

Abstract The Chinese term youmo for humor is a translated neologism in modern Chinese. It was Lin Yutang who first coined the term in 1924 and introduced and promoted the idea of humor into Chinese culture. Lin's translating ‘humor’ into youmo was a conscious cross-cultural act that mediates and appropriates cultural meaning between East and West. By way of cross-cultural translation, ‘humor’ as youmo takes on a multicultural meaning which not only enriches the notion of humor but also offers an aesthetic alternative to Chinese modernity through creative transformation of Chinese cultural tradition. After recognizing the Western reference of youmo , especially George Meredith's notion of the “comic spirit,” I will show how youmo intends to find a middle ground for Chinese modernity in which Chinese literature and culture can shake off shackles of moral pomposity while still maintaining a gentlemanly style or taste. The primary means for Lin to achieve that purpose is to re-interpret traditional Chinese culture, both Taoist and Confucianist, along humorous lines. And it is in such cross-cultural interaction that Lin Yutang developed his philosophical notion of youmo as “tolerant irony” based on the Taoist ironical stance towards life as well as the Confucian “Spirit of Reasonableness.”

Journal

Humor: International Journal of Humor Researchde Gruyter

Published: Aug 21, 2007

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