Modern translation studies has developed in the West and in China along similar routes. The application of linguistic theories to the study of translation has brought attention to this longneglected field and has shown the possibilities of alignment with a serious academic subject. Linguistic models, however, have proved rather unproductive. Instead, it has been the explorations initiated by polysystem theory and other cultural theories in recent decades that have allowed translation studies to grow into a discipline in its own right in the West. These theories were introduced to China in the 1980s and 1990s. Initially, they met with various forms of resistance because of their intrusion upon an established tradition. Yet because these theories created a new direction for translation discourse and helped gain wider recognition for translation studies as a discipline in China, they gradually took over the centre of the home repertoire. This article views the process of the Westernization of translation studies in China since the 1980s –which is taking place at a time when Chinese culture is particularly receptive to foreign repertoires due to a strong sense of ‘self-insufficiency’ – as a case in which a polysystem borrows repertoires from others to fulfil certain self-perceived needs.
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