Volume 69, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0521-9744
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9668
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Chinese calligraphy, which distinctively represents traditional Chinese culture, contains many culture-specific aesthetic terms that pose a translation challenge requiring creative cross-cultural strategies. This study presents several English translations for four key Chinese aesthetic terms on calligraphy, namely (roughly translated as “vital force” or “energy”), (once translated as “rhythmic life” or “life movement”), 飛白 (“flying white” or “hollow strokes”) and 計白當黑 (literally: treating white areas like black ink). It examines their effectiveness in facilitating cross-cultural understanding and maximizing cultural authenticity. This article points out that most of these terms have been adequately contextualized in English over the past century, even though some are rendered in English using terms borrowed from Western art history. This shows how cultural translation, the theoretical basis of this study, comes into play when dealing with Chinese aesthetic terms in calligraphy.


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