To elaborate on the difference in word choice and phrasing, Jack Yuan is much more eloquent than I could ever be, unless I consciously aimed to do so, which would then end up just sounding pretentious. His writing is very pleasing and well-constructed. However, in doing this it also has a tendency to bypass some shades of meaning found in the original - it is very much adapted to English, which, arguably, is what a translation ought to do. It is not what I would call a 100% literal translation, whether this is good or bad is up to you.
My translation strives to be as literal as possible, even in places where this leads to some moments of awkwardness or unfamiliar phrasing/meaning in English. I did everything possible to preserve not only meaning of individual word choices but also the syntax or word order. Mr. Yuan's translation is also fairly economical with his words - it is eloquent, not flowery. My translation, even in comparing only the main body of the bio, minus Pei's notes, is much longer than his. In many places I found that conveying the mood or subtext of a Chinese passage required, at least in my unskilled hands, a fair amount of extra verbiage in English.
Basically, mine is long, literal, convoluted in places and fairly ugly with little adornment. Mr. Yuan's has brevity, is not preoccupied with being always completely literal, flows smoothly and is rather pretty. It certainly reads more easily. James in his assessment has been a little vague, so it is probably better that I, as one of the translators, stands up and gives the differences as I see them. It would be even better if we could get Jack Yuan to give his perspective but I suppose that probably isn't going to happen. I personally prefer mine because I am fastidious and a stickler for details; however, Jack Yuan's knowledge of Chinese surpasses mine so it is possible there may be an error or three somewhere in mine that he does not make.
EDIT: Also, to repeat what James said, both are translated from the work of Chen Shou, mine also includes Pei Songzhi's notes on top of that. You may also find differences in the titles and military positions; I follow the work of Hans Bielenstein and Rafe de Crespigny in translating official positions and military titles, but I don't know what method Mr. Yuan used for translating these things.
Last edited by Liu Yuante
on Sun Nov 05, 2006 1:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.