Open Journal of Modern Linguistics
2013. Vol.3, No.2, 114-118
Published Online June 2013 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
EST Translation Guided by Reception Theory*
Liangqiu Lv, Puyu Ning
School of Foreign Language , N o r t h China Electric Powe r University, Beijing, China
Received February 8th, 2013; re vised Ma rch 10th, 2013; accepted March 18th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Liangqiu Lv, Puyu Ning. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Com-
mons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, pro-
vided the original work is p roperly cited.
In the thesis, Reception Theory is introduced to the studies of EST translation to explore the mutual in-
fluence and restriction between the author, the translator and readers, as well as the respective reception
problems, on the basis of which, the characteristics, principles and strategies of translation are analyzed.
Keywords: Reception Theory; EST; Translation Strategies
Reception Theory and Translation Studies
The focus on Reception Theory in the western academia was
not originated from education but from the Hermeneutics of
ancient Greece as well as the aesthetics of reception developed
therefrom. Stemmed from Germany in the 70s of the 20th cen-
tury, Reception Theory, or the aesthetics of reception, is one of
the important literary theory schools. The main founders of the
theory are Robert Jauss and Wolfgang Iser, both of whom are
representatives of the Constance school. The two research ori-
entations-reception research and effect research, interrelated
and different from each other, have been formed in the devel-
opment of Reception Theory.
Represented by Robert Jauss, reception research systemati-
cally expounds the basic theory of the aesthetics of reception.
He focused on readership study and concerned with the horizon
of expectation and the aesthetic experience of readers. He thought
that the reception process is a positive, not negative participa-
tion process. Since the social circumstance of each historical
period forms certain standards and paradigms, while the talents,
experience and cultural cultivation of each recipient are differ-
ent, therefore the understanding and comprehension towards
works by different recipients vary in quite wide range. For a
certain piece of work, it will present various meaning structure
under different background of history and society; and under
the same social and historical background, it will also have dif-
ferent meaning structure to different readers.
With the interaction between text and reader as well as the
viewpoint which the meaning developed in the reading process
as the logical starting point, effect research represented by
Wolfgang Iser stresses the text study during the reception and
focuses on the blank and appealing structure of text. He be-
lieved that meaning is not the product of a single aspect of text
or reader. Before being received by reader, the text is just an
unascertained “appealing structure” awaiting realization. Only
through the proactive exploration by reader during the reception
can the meaning of text be realized. During the reading and re-
ceiving course, the thinking process of reader is very vital.
It is reception theory that first put forward from the height of
ontology the issue of reader and reading reception always ig-
nored by people. The starting points of the Construction Recep-
tion Theory of Rober Jauss and Iser are consistent. The focuses
of both theories are diverted from the relation from author to
text, to the study of the relation from tex t to author. And the impor-
tant role of reader in the whole process of literary activity is ser-
ved as the basis of both theories (Zhou & Jin, 1987) .
In late 80s and early 90s of the 20th century, Reception The-
ory was introduced to translation study. Translation researchers
started to turn their focus from translations and translators to
the acceptance of translations by readers. The status and role of
readers in the translation process as well as influences of reader
acceptance on the translation goals, strategies, etc. were high-
There are two acceptance activities in translation practice.
The reading of the source text by translator is the first accep-
tance during which he will fill up with creativity a lot of unde-
termined blanks in the source text. Robert Jauss believed that
the significance of works originates both from the works itself
and from the readers. No translator can be excluded from the
influence of his reading experience and prior knowledge. Mean-
while, the source text restricts the acceptance of reader. So the
reader will not deviate from the meaning of the source text or
understand randomly, and have the translation approximate to
the source text as much as possible. While seeking the utmost
approximation between the translation and the source text, the
translator should also consider the relation as well as the fusion
of horizon between translation and its reader. Undoubtedly, the
communication between the readers of translation will also in-
fluence the translation activity of the translator, who needs to
think about the acceptance ability and requirement of the read-
ers in the translation and constantly have the translation com-
municate and dialogue with default readers. Meanwhile, the
translator is also the reader of the source text and keeps com-
municating with the translation works as reader. The translator
needs to precast the concurrent horizon of expectation of read-
ers, take the concurrent aesthetic taste and acceptance ability of
*The present paper is one of the periodical results of the Project “the Appli-
cation of Empathy and Cultural Perception in Translation Process” (No.
12MS91), supported by the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central
Universities of China.
L. Q. LV, P. Y. NING
readers into consideration, and have the horizon of expectation
of readers fused into his translation works.
Characteristics and Translation Principles
of EST
Characteristics of EST
Generally, there are three characteristics for EST, namely,
accuracy, objectivity and brevity, which are specifically em-
bodied in the aspects of wording, sentence pattern and presen-
tation: Use of large number of very professional words accom-
panied with lots of formulas, data, graphs and etc; use of long
sentence and comparatively complicated sentence; impersonal;
formal in mode of speech; objective and accurate in statement;
standard in language; unadorned in stylistics; strict in logic and
concentrated in technical terms (Wang & Pan, 2009).
Translation Principles for EST
There are three basic principles in translation: psychological
principle, message transferring principle, and aesthetic principle.
The aesthetics principle denotes that translator needs to transfer
the beauty in sense, sound and form of the original works in
translation. (Liu Kezhang, 1994). In Sci-tech translation, the
message transferring principle tops the list, which means that
Sci-tech translator also needs to consider the acceptance of
reading psychology of readers.
EST mainly states affairs, describes phenomenon, deduces
formula, demonstrates rules, and includes less emotional colors.
Therefore, principles of faithfulness, expressiveness, concise-
ness, accuracy and serving readers shall be followed in transla-
tion, so as to make the translation works clear and concise with
well-knit structure, seamless logic, standard writing, and correct
technical terms.
Principle of Faithfulness
All languages contain polysemic words, which is an inevita-
ble result of language development. The meaning of specific
words must be determined according to the specific linguistic
context and logical relationship. Different style has different
requirement on faithfulness. In sci-tech translation, faithfulness
means that the meaning of the source text can be represented in
an entirely accurate way in the target text. Meanwhile, the faith-
fulness of the style of the target text should also be valued. This
is the basic requirement for sci-tech translation.
1) Faithful to the meaning of the source context
To be faithful to the content of the source text in translation,
a translator should well grasp the general idea of the entire
article on a macro basis first. Then, based on the basic idea of
the source language and integrated with the context relation, lo-
gical relation and the institutionalized Chinese expression, he
should select the appropriate word meaning conforming to sci-
entific writing in translation, hence realizing the faithfulness of
2) Faithful to the style of the source text
In EST translation, to faithfully convey the style of the
source text is also very important. EST requires concise writing
and well-knit structure, therefore, more nominalizations or
participial phrases are used to replace attributive clause or ad-
verbial clause. When translating such article, translator should
try to keep his target text the same style with that of the source
Principle of Expressiveness
The main aim of EST translation is to transmit new knowl-
edge in the field of science and technology, namely, the new
theories, information and data unknown to readers before.
Therefore, the target text should be as accurate, concise and
standard as possible and embody its own characteristics of un-
derstanding and expression in translation. The target text should
be in accordance with Chinese standard and be readable. In
expression, translator should try his best to get rid of the struc-
tural shackles of the source text, pay attention to collocation as
well as selection and extension of word meaning, and make the
target text with smooth expression.
To follow the principle of expressiveness, translator needs to
accurately translate the pure science and technology terms ac-
cording to the background of the source text, to correctly un-
derstand and use the science and technology terms as well as
the meaning of the words expressing abstract concept, and un-
derstand the derivates and abbreviations according to the gen-
eral idea of the article. The Anglo-Americans overemphasize
changes of sentence form, structure and vocabulary in writing,
while the Chinese often use the same word to express the object,
action or status with the same concept in sci-tech articles, so as
to realize the accuracy in expression. If ignoring the differences
of expression between the sci-tech articles of English and Chi-
nese, translator will confuse concepts and his translation will
not be smooth.
Principle of Brevity
The aim of sci-tech translation is to convey scientific knowl-
edge to readers, which requires the adopted linguistic form, es-
pecially those scientific and technical terms to be concise, so
that readers can correctly understand and grasp the contents. To
make the translation concise, translator should fully understand
the source text first, and delete the redundant modifications,
conjunctions, prepositions and etc. therein on the precondition
of not affecting the original contents.
Principle of Accuracy
Principle of accuracy refers to using target language to ap-
propriately reflect the meaning of the source language in trans-
lation. The wording of EST must be correct without confusion
or words with multiple meanings. Therefore, in sci-tech transla-
tion, translator should appropriately use the specific sentence
structure, tense, voice, terms and etc of science and technology,
and carefully analyze, differentiate and select the meaning of
words on the basis of relevant specialized knowledge, so as to
improve the accuracy of contents and simplicity of form.
Principle of Serving Readers
The aim of translation is to have reader clearly understand
the information of the source text through reading the target
text. Translation is to serve the readers of the target text. The
response of the reader of the target text should be consistent to
that of the reader of the source text as much as possible. There-
fore, the target text should be concise, clear, smooth, standard,
and be in compliance with the standard of target language.
Translator should give full consideration of the understanding,
capacity and perception of language of the reader of the target
text, and properly simplify information.
Due to the difference of expression between English and
Chinese, some words might have the same connotations but
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 115
L. Q. LV, P. Y. NING
different extensions for the readers of the two languages. Be-
sides, some words can be tactfully arranged in a certain phrase
in native English; however, it is very difficult to find relevant
collocation in Chinese. Only when translator has seized the es-
sential characteristics and expressed appropriately, can he work
out the real charm of the source text.
EST Translation Guided by Reception Theory
As a bilingual conversion activity, translation actually in-
volves the original author, the translator and the readers of the
target text, who form a tripartite confrontation situation with the
three parties therein cooperative and restricted with each other,
and contain and compromise with each other. The original au-
thor restricts the translator not to deviate from the source text.
The translator is both the reader of the source text and the au-
thor of the target text. And he has to consider the acceptance
and need of readers, so his translation can gain the expected
result. Readers restrict the realization of translation. Meanwhile,
the three parties need to cooperate with each other too. The ori-
ginal author should allow the translator to betray if necessary,
and the readers cannot require the translator to consider their
feeling only regardless of the source text. The translator should
take both the original author and the readers into consideration,
not only make his translation understandable, but also keep the
style of the source text (Sun & Zhao, 1998).
Reception in EST Translation
In EST translation, there is also reception which emphasizes
the reception psychology and expectation towards the science
and technology information in the source text, but not the feel-
ing of beauty. The author, the translator and the readers will
have either direct or indirect influence on reception. The style
of the source text determines its target readership, hence the
readership of the translator. Linking between the author and the
readers, the translator should correctly convey the information
of the source text, meet the need of the readers and serve the
readers. This is bound to affect the selection and use of the
translation strategies of the translator.
Reception of the Author
The reception of the author of the source text is reflected by
the relation between style and relation. Meanwhile, the infor-
mation can also reflect its relation with reception. Generally,
the author of the source text will take the need and interest of
readers into consideration in his writing. Although the differ-
ence of recepti on psychology and decoding ability betwee n the
readers of the source text and the readers of the target text is not
big, their interests and need for the article may not be exactly
the same, which causes the reception of the readers of the target
text towards the information to be different from those of the
source text. In addition, the readers’ demands for information
are not same either. Whether the value of the source text can be
realized is determined by the reading demand of the readers of
the target language. The source text is an integration of multi-
level, multi-factor, and multi-category information. After being
translated, the target text is faced with various types of readers.
Some information is needed by readers while the others not. All
of them will affect the reception of the translation. Both the
style and information of the source text will have indirect in-
fluence on the reception of the readers of the target text. Ignor-
ing these factors will affect the outcome and the realization of
the value of the translation, worse still, the reception of the
target text of the readers will also decrease. It is the translator’s
responsibility for readers to adjust the information in the source
text and select the appropriate translation strategies according
to the reception of readers.
Reception of the Translator
According to reception theory, the translator should not only
pay attention to the faithful conveying of various information of
the source text but also consider the reception ability of the
readers of the translation. Placed between the author and the
readers, the translator should get himself involved into both the
creation activity of the author and the reading process of read-
ers. He should know both the author and the readers, and should
be responsible both for the original work and the readers (Fang
Mengzhi, 2008).
Only those translations accepted by readers are excellent
works. In sci-tech translation, the task of the translator is to
faithfully and correctly convey the scientific and technical in-
formation. The translator’s responsibility for reader lies in both
faithfully and correctly conveying the information of the source
text as well as considering the requirement and reception psy-
chology of readers. Faithfulness and accuracy are the basic
requirements of sci-tech translation as well as the foundation
for realizing the goal of translation. Since sci-tech translation
involves the specific contents in the field of science and tech-
nology, the translator must grasp the knowledge of the relevant
disciplines in the source text and skillfully master language. On
the basis of understanding the source text, he can use standard
language to express the meaning in the target language in a
correct, smooth and native way. Otherwise, the translator may
make mistakes and lose the value of translation, let alone real-
ize the aim of t ranslation and the expected social resul t.
On the basis of faithfully conveying the information of the
source text, the translator also needs to consider the demand of
readers. Otherwise, his translation will affect the reception of
readers. The translator must make clear of the aim of translating
the article, sort out the information in the source text, and con-
vey the contents badly needed by readers in his translation. For
the translator, the demand of readers is a drive that can motivate
his potentiality used in his translation.
Reception of the Reader
As previously mentioned, the principle of serving readers
should be followed in sci-tech translation. The translator must
consider the reception of readers. In sci-tech translation, the
reception of readers refers to the reception of the information in
the source text, which is where the value of the original text is
realized. Like the other translations, only through the reading,
thinking, and absorption of readers can the sci-tech translations
influence society.
The reception of readers mainly includes reader psychology,
reader structure, the characteristics of reader and etc. Reader
psychology includes interest and attention. To attract readers
and their attention, the translation must have something that can
interest readers. If the translator can pay attention to reader
psychology, and accordingly adjust the structure, the distribu-
tion of information and selection of information point it in his
translation, the quality of his translation can be improved (Fang,
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
L. Q. LV, P. Y. NING
In terms of reader structure, there are professionals and non-
professionals. For the professional technology personnel, their
point of interest lies in their profession. All scientific achieve-
ments related to their professional research can attract their
attention. What they are mostly concerned and interested is the
development prospect of their profession. The translator had
better start from their point of interest when selecting the source
text, then the target text can attract the attention of the profes-
sional technology personnel, who have strong comprehension,
so the translation should be concise and clear. A large number
of specialized, simplified or conventionalized terms can be di-
rectly used. The translator cannot make his translation shallow
and vulgarized.
For non-professional readers, their interests mainly lie in new
knowledge or the information about new technology. They are
not interested in the new technology in a certain field. So to
speak, their interests are the widest but most unsteady ones.
Their gaining of certain scientific knowledge is not always in-
tentional or on purpose. For such readers, the title of the trans-
lation is very important. It should be able to not only highlight
the key information but also attract the reading interests of
readers. Besides, such translations should adjust the distribution
as well as the primary and secondary of information in the
source text according to the interest of readers. The information
interested by readers or useful to the living, working and
studying of readers should be placed in front. If the translator
only speculates the reception psychology of the readers of the
target text according to the information reception of the readers
of the source text, his translation works will not exert its due
In addition, the translator should also know the reception
ability of readers, so as to avoid the misplaced reception. The
translator must start from the reception ability, interests and
requirement of the readers of his translation, revise the source
text, and convey the information in the source text to readers in
the way that they are willing to accept.
Strategies of EST Translation Guided by Reception
Apart from the selection of the information in the source text
and the wording and phrasing of the target text, the translator of
EST must have reader awareness on the selection and use of
translation strategies. He needs to consider about the reception
of readers. On the basis of correctly conveying the information
of the source text, he should try to make his translation with the
best readability.
Foreignization of EST Translation
It should become the primary responsibility of the translators
of EST to correctly convey the information of the source text
and set faithfulness as the highest principle of sci-tech transla-
tion In EST translation, the translator often locks some special
language structures, reserves the language characteristics of the
source text and follows the fixed expression. Although some-
times this kind of expression sounds awkward with strong for-
eign flavor, it is a kind of inevitable foreignization, which is
just a reflection of thinking of the reception of the author. The
language structures needing to be locked by the translator in his
translation mainly are some technical terms which have fixed
translation. The translator cannot translate them at his will but
look up relative technical dictionary and follow suit.
Apart from some single special terms, the language struc-
tures to be locked in sci-tech translation also include some lar-
ger language units such as phrases, which have formed fixed
concept in some special fields and have conventionalized
translation. In terms of the phrase-form special terms, the tran-
slator should not translate their fixed expressions at will but pay
attention to them in this field and consider the reception of
Domestication of EST Translation
Translation is not only a conversion between two languages;
it also involves clashes and restrictions between two cultures.
EST stresses the professional expression of terms, the direct,
objective and logical presentation, and the invariance of style.
When translating the source text to the target text, the translator
needs to instill his re-creational elements; therefore, the transla-
tion will inevitably be marked with the culture of the target
language. The translator has his own free processing and creat-
ing space in translation. During the translation, he should con-
sider about the reception of readers. Only when the translator
gets familiar with the readers of the target language, realizes the
reception of readers and makes his translation standard, smooth
and fluent with the cultural elements of the target language, can
his works be successful.
Undoubtedly, the terms and phrases should be faithfully tran-
slated in sci-tech translation. But it does not mean that the cha-
racteristics belonging to language system and without any pro-
fessional meaning should be unreservedly inherited in transla-
tion. As is well known, one of the most outstanding characteris-
tics in EST is nominalization. Something expressed with verbs
in daily communication is often expressed with nouns in text,
for nominal language structure can often avoid the changes of
tense, hence making the language more objective. However,
such nominal language structure does not bear too much lan-
guage information. It is just a language tool forming the dis-
course of science and technology. Therefore, when translating
such nominal structures, the translator has to use verb structure
to replace the nominal structure in the source text according to
the Chinese way of expression of using verbs more, to ensure
the clear and coherent of the target text.
There are comparatively big cultural differences between
Chinese readers and English readers. Some background know-
ledge of science and technology English readers are familiar
with may be unknown to most Chinese readers. In this case, it
is necessary for the translator to appropriately supplement back-
ground knowledge and expand the co-occurred information of
the source text, or provide the information the western readers
are familiar with but the Chinese readers are not, so as to cross
the cultural background barrier and help readers to better un-
derstand the meaning of the source text. For readers, there are
some scientific barrier in ECST (English for Common Science
and Technology) itself. Too many foreign expressions will af-
fect the understanding of readers and reduce their reading inte-
Since there is reception in sci-tech translation, the translator
should consider the feeling and demand of the readers in his
translation so as to have his translation meet the demand of rea-
ders. The sci-tech translation emphasizes the reception of the
science and technology information contained in the source text
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 117
L. Q. LV, P. Y. NING
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
by the readers of the target text, but not the same feeling as that
of the readers of the source text by the readers of the target text.
Therefore, the sci-tech translation stresses that the translator
should translate according to the demand and need of the read-
ers, which is actually an intensification and utmost use of the
reception aesthetics. Since the readers affect the translation so
seriously, it is necessary for the translator to select appropriate
strategies according to the acceptance, understanding and need
of the readers to translate. The source text, readers and transla-
tors will affect reception. The style of the source text deter-
mines its target readership, hence the target readership of the
target text. Then the translator also has close relations with re-
ception. Situated between the author and the readers, the trans-
lator should use various methods to meet the readers’ demand
for the source text, adjust the structure, or make selections of
the information of the source text and etc. The reception ability
and reading interests of the readers themselves will also affect
the acceptance of the information in target text.
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