Abstract：Within the framework of the Skopos theory, this paper examines the translation of puns which are applied in the verdict poems of the beauties in Jin Ling as well as in the dialogues among characters in the two full text English versions of A Dream of Red Mansions—one is translated by Yang Hsienyi and Gladys Yang, the other by David Hawkes and Minford. Since the factors beyond the text cover many aspects and boast the value for a more comprehensive study on the two versions, the Skopos theory offers us a rewarding access to the translator’s subjectivity and its influence on the translation.
It argues that the translator’s subjectivity from the perspective of Skopos theory is closely related to the translation strategies he or she adopts in the translation of puns. According to the clarification of the Skopos theory on the translator and translation process, the paper is intended to examine how a translator’s subjectivity influences the choice of his or her translation strategies of puns. It is supposed to clarify in four parts within two categories, including the initiator (the objective category), the translator’s personal purposes, the understanding of the source text by the translator, and the ability of using both source and target languages (the subjective activities).
By analyses on these aspects and the related examples, the paper aims to give a profound insight into the term “a translator’s subjectivity” and to examine the two English versions of A Dream of Red Mansions from a rewarding perspective. In addition, it provides some suggestions on the criticism of translation versions, which has always been a heated topic for long and needs further study.
Key words: Skopos theory, a translator’s subjectivity, the translation of puns, A Dream of Red Mansions