China Focus: Xi's report draws discussion about translation

Source: Xinhua| 2017-10-22 12:19:48|Editor: Liangyu
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BEIJING, Oct. 22 (Xinhua) -- Xi Jinping's report Wednesday to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has fueled heated discussion about translation among the Chinese public.

The colloquialism and quotes in his report have caught the attention of the public, sparking a discussion about how these words and expressions should be translated into English properly.

On microblog Sina Weibo, a post about how to translate the report had been forwarded more than 50,000 times and received about 70,000 likes as of 10 a.m. Saturday.

"How to translate 'Bu Wang Chu Xin' in English" instantly became a trendy topic after Xi's report delivery, drawing a big number of comments from regular citizens as well as English language experts.

"Bu Wang Chu Xin" meaning "never forget why you started" was included in Xi's report.

Nine foreign linguists had been asked to translate and edit the document -- the most important Chinese policy statement in five years. It has been translated into 10 foreign languages.

The four Chinese characters "Bu Wang Chu Xin" directly translates into "don't forget your original intentions."

Many say it is difficult for Western readers in English to get the real meaning hidden in the Chinese expression. One of the editors, Holly Snape, agreed.

Snape coming from Britain told Xinhua that she found it very difficult to convey some Chinese ideas in English.

"Even as a non-Chinese native speaker, I can feel the determination behind the report, and how big the ideas are," she said. "In many parts of the original, there was a tempo and rhythm and real feeling with many difficult nuances to convey in English."

"Bu Wang Chu Xin" is just one example of the 32,000-character document. There are many expressions in the report that contain cultural elements.

While talking about national rejuvenation, Xi used an expression "Qiao Luo Da Gu," or drum beating and gong clanging. In Chinese, "Qiao Luo Da Gu" indicates celebrations, as well as bluff and bluster.

In another instance, Xi mentioned "Ya Cha," or step by step, when he talked about reform. "Ya Cha" is reportedly a way of growing rice, which requires farmers to work step by step.

"This is a powerful document, which makes me feel strong and vigorous," said Olga Migunova from Russia, one of the translators.

Learning Chinese for more than 10 years, Migunova has been involved in translating many government and CPC documents.

"I feel that all I did in the past decades was just preparation for translating this report, and I often feel that my Russian is not good enough!"

Zhang Xixian, a professor with the Party School of the Central Committee of CPC, said that Xi's use of colloquialism in the report shows he is "a linguist who knows how to use clear, easy language to convey deep thoughts and philosophy."

Xi has worked at the grassroots level, and knows exactly about the general public life, Zhang said.

"His use of expressions shows that his theory is deeply connected with the people," Zhang said.

He added that by inviting foreign translators and editors to help with the report's translation is an indication that the congress is "more global."

"By allowing foreign translators to get involved in the process, the congress not only managed to spread its own ideas, but also absorbed elements from other culture," the scholar said.

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