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Re: Yet Another Sānguózhì Translation Project

Unread postPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2017 2:37 am
by Lady Wu
It's always nice to have people contribute to 3K scholarship and make original sources available for a wider audience.

I like the idea of putting the source text together with the translation. If you're looking for people to help double check the accuracy of the translation, would you consider putting the texts side by side (hard to do on Tumblr, I know), or interspersing them like what Taishi Ci 2.0 is doing in the ZZTJ translations thread?

Also, if you're looking for feedback, would you consider posting the translations here so people can comment on them or discuss the contents? For example, in Jiang Qin's bio, I'd like to suggest an alternative translation for 盪寇將軍 instead of your "General Scalding Criminals". 盪 means to clean, to sweep away, so this may be better rendered as "General who Sweeps Away Bandits". However, I don't have a tumblr account, so there's no way for me to point out those things.

I'm also curious if you have plans to edit the bios to read more smoothly in English. I know you're trying to preserve the original as faithfully as possible, but the primary goal of a translation is to render a text understandable to someone from a different language background. By sticking so closely to the original Chinese syntax, your translations risk being ambiguous (thus causing confusion for your readers), or you're creating a work that is still inaccessible to the average English reader (may I add that "advanced students with a extensive knowledge of sources" would already be reading the original text and not relying on a translation?). It takes a lot more effort, but ultimately the ability to strike a balance between readability and fidelity is the measure of the art of a translator.

And if I may respond to your "criticisms" about other translation compilations: The fact is, if any one person could translate all of SGZ on their own, they would have done so already and published it. Not even the preeminent 3K scholars in the English-speaking world have done it. It is a huge undertaking, involving great amounts of research, as you know. That's why, to fill the gaps of knowledge, some people decided to collaborate and do what they can to help more people have access to the sources. I agree with you that there is a range in style and accuracy and it would have been better if (or whatever translation compilation) had a professional copy-editor who could also read the source text. It's not just because there were many different translators, but also because the translations spanned years. I am actually now a published (and paid) literary translator, and if I were to translate a bio now it would be very different from my earliest work 15 years ago (which makes me cringe now, I admit). So, expect that by the time you finish translating all the SGZ bios (if you finish), you will have probably just as much editing to do as if multiple people had been contributing to the effort.

Secondly, regarding the difficulty in detecting errors, the majority of readers of bio translations do not read Classical Chinese. That's why they rely on the English translation. Which means, having the source text there is not helpful to them. But if you are a Chinese-reading reader who is interested in identifying errors, you would have your own text(s) already. And while you're at it, why not post here the errors you've found (I at least used to post bios in a thread for comments first before moving it to, so you're doing a service to the community by correcting the record and by helping other translators with their craft?

Re: Yet Another Sānguózhì Translation Project

Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 02, 2017 12:21 pm
by waywardauthor

The second to last public statement on your tumblr page was that you were considering the creation of a new website, but there has been only one translation since then. Have you taken a break, or is your work on a different website now? Whatever the case, I wish you and your project well.

Re: Yet Another Sānguózhì Translation Project

Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2017 6:43 pm
by Sun Fin
I've just re-found this project, thank you and your team for all your continued hard work!

Do you have any plans to publish it all when you're finished?