What's the difference for Cao Cao's SGZ biography?

Questions, feedback, suggestions, and Kongming's Archives projects.

What's the difference for Cao Cao's SGZ biography?

Unread postby Cloud Strife » Sat Nov 04, 2006 1:47 am

I'm going to read Cao Cao's SGZ biography and I will like to know what's the difference between Jack Yuan's version and Adrian Loder. I know that Adrian Loder's version has Pei Songzhi's notes as well as his own, but is that the only difference? Also, how come each author has different wording? Were there 2 different people who wrote about Cao Cao which explains why both authors used different wording? Who was the author that Jack Yuan translanted from? I know that Adrian Loder translated from Pei Songzhi. This goes as well for other people Jack Yuan did, like the Five Tiger Generals, Sun Ce, Sun Jian, Zhuge Liang, ectera. Well, thanks in advance!
User avatar
Cloud Strife
Scholar
 
Posts: 352
Joined: Tue Jul 08, 2003 6:00 pm

Unread postby James » Sat Nov 04, 2006 4:48 am

Quick answer. They are translated from the same author, Chen Shou. Long answer, when you translate this archaic traditional Chinese you are left with English that barely makes any sense unless you completely reword it. Chinese grammar differentiates so much that you really don’t have much a choice. This is why you will see very different wording in two separate translations. What matters is that the <i>information</i> is consistent.

And that’s another reason why we are happy to feature several translations. Some parts of these translations are so complicated that even highly skilled professional translators have to research it for extensive periods of time. It is nice to be able to compare biographies to help isolate these instances, which are usually fleshed out properly in debate.
Kongming’s Archives – Romance of the Three Kingdoms Novel, History and Games
“ They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
  — Ben Franklin
User avatar
James
Sausaged Fish
Sausaged Fish
 
Posts: 17938
Joined: Fri Jun 14, 2002 3:21 pm
Location: Happy Valley, UT

Unread postby Liu Yuante » Sat Nov 04, 2006 4:58 pm

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.

Adrian
Last edited by Liu Yuante on Sun Nov 05, 2006 1:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Liu Yuante
绯红王
 
Posts: 2682
Joined: Mon Apr 12, 2004 12:20 am

Unread postby James » Sun Nov 05, 2006 5:34 am

As a deliberate effort to hold true to the biography’s original meaning does mean a great deal to me when viewing biographies, my words were truly not presented in a diplomatic regard. If any diplomacy was delivered, it was in portraying the site as a whole—not Adrian’s translation of Cao Cao’s biography.

Both serve their own purpose, and I believe that! :)
Kongming’s Archives – Romance of the Three Kingdoms Novel, History and Games
“ They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
  — Ben Franklin
User avatar
James
Sausaged Fish
Sausaged Fish
 
Posts: 17938
Joined: Fri Jun 14, 2002 3:21 pm
Location: Happy Valley, UT


Return to Kongming's Archives

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests

Copyright © 2002–2008 Kongming’s Archives. All Rights Reserved