Department of English Research Seminar Series: Rethinking Dynamic Equivalence as a Rhetorical Construct



  • Date: 25 June 2019
  • Time: 2:00pm-3:00pm
  • Venue: HS436 (South Campus, XJTLU)
  • Speaker: Professor Douglas Robinson(Dean, Faculty of Arts, Chair Professor of English of Hong Kong Baptist University)


Eugene Nida’s notion of “dynamic equivalence” is perhaps the best-known concept in the Translation Studies of the past half century. And yet it is mostly known by name only, and not only dismissed (for all the wrong reasons) as useless by top translation scholars but mostly misunderstood by the translators and scholars who do remember and follow it in their work. This paper will begin by pointing out the obvious, that Nida’s notion is actually a rhetorical rather than a textual/structural/functional concept, then complicate that with concepts from Aristotle’s Rhetoric. Then, since Nida was a Bible translator, it will explore the practical consequences for religious translation in two parts of the world: the Septuagint Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible in Alexandria around three centuries before the common era, and Christian translations of 孟子 Mengzi in Malacca and Hong Kong in the early to mid-nineteenth century.


Douglas Robinson

A native of the United States, Douglas Robinson has lived in Finland for a total of fourteen years, taking three university degrees there and serving as a lecturer in English at the University of Jyväskylä (1975-1981) and a professor of American language and literature (1983-1987) and of Finnish-English Translation Theory and Practice (1987-1989) at the University of Tampere. During his 21 years (1989-2010) as professor of English at the University of Mississippi, he also spent two years in Voronezh, Russia, and five months in Spain; the last three years at Ole Miss he was Director of First-Year Writing. From 2010 to 2012 he served as Tong Tin Sun Chair Professor of English and Head of the English Department at Lingnan University. His 1983 Ph.D. is from the University of Washington, Seattle.