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Chinese translation theory

Professor of translation at Hong Kong Baptist University, Tan Zaixi claims that "the Chinese tradition of translation is an ‘externally-oriented’ tradition, whereas in the West there is a more ‘internally-oriented’ one". Traditionally, Chinese translation theories were in fact for works from foreign languages to Chinese.

The Modern Standard Chinese word fanyi 翻譯 "translate; translation" compounds fan "turn over; cross over; translate" and yi "translate; interpret". The Chinese classics contain various words meaning "interpreter; translator", for example, sheren 舌人 (lit. "tongue person") .

Chinese translation theory was born out of contact with vassal states during the Zhou Dynasty and developed through translations of Buddhist scripture into Chinese. A Western Han work attributes a dialogue about translation to Confucius, who advises a ruler who wishes to learn foreign languages not to bother and focus on governance, letting the translators handle translation.

It is true that in this multicultural and increasingly globalised world, civilisational dialogues and cultural exchanges require many untiring, meticulous and out-of-the-limelight efforts of professional linguists who have to be highly specialised to guarantee top quality service. Chinese is SanTranslate‘s strong point, and we also provide translations for many other languages. To know more, visit our language pages.

By | August 26th, 2011|Blog|0 Comments

The Rosetta Project and the rescue of endangered languages

Endangered languages don’t seem as self-evidently valuable as say, endangered species are to the functioning of a healthy ecosystem. As the famous example goes, Eskimo have numerous words to describe what in English would simply be called “snow” and “ice.” This suggests that languages, besides translating universal ideas into different spellings, encode different concepts.

The Rosetta Project is The Long Now Foundation’s first exploration into very long-term archiving. It is a global collaboration of language specialists and native speakers working to develop a contemporary version of the historic Rosetta Stone to last from 2000 to 12,000 AD. Its goal is a meaningful survey and near permanent archive of 1,500 languages. The intention is to create a unique platform for comparative linguistic research and education, as well as a functional linguistic tool that might help in the recovery or revitalisation of lost languages in the future.

The first prototype of the Rosetta project is The Rosetta Disk – a three inch diameter nickel disk with nearly 14,000 pages of information microscopically etched onto its surface. Since each page is an image, it can be read by the human eye using powerful optical magnification. The disk rests in a sphere made of stainless steel and glass which allows it exposure to the atmosphere, but protects it from casual impact and abrasion.

What kind of information should go into such a long term archive? There are many possibilities: a collection of the world’s greatest literature, known cures for the diseases that plague humanity, blueprints for recreating major technology… the idea is to have a thorough understanding of a linguistic message, by recognising the importance of not only what is said, but also how it was said. Looking for high calibre linguistic services? Ask SanTranslate.

By | August 25th, 2011|Blog|0 Comments

Preserving Romance Languages

The Romance languages descend from Vulgar Latin, the language of ancient Rome. Nowadays the four most widely spoken Romance languages are Spanish (c. 320 million native), Portuguese (c. 180 million native), French (c. 125 million native) and Italian (c. 60 million native). These languages have 800 million native speakers worldwide, mainly in Europe and America, as well as many smaller regions scattered throughout the world. So historic and culturally significant are these languages that there are institutions dedicated to each one; their aims are not only in preservation but also in enhancement: the Royal Spanish Academy (Real Academia Española, RAE), the Society for the Portuguese Language (Sociedade da Língua Portuguesa) the French Academy (Académie française) (link: http://www.academie-francaise.fr/) and the Academy of Bran (Accademia della Crusca).

The Royal Spanish Academy was founded in 1713. It is based in Madrid but it is affiliated with national language academies in twenty-one other Spanish-speaking nations through the Association of Spanish Language Academies. The RAE is a major publisher of dictionaries and has a formal procedure for admitting words to its publications. Its website includes an online dictionary and other resources, all in Spanish.

The Society for the Portuguese Language was founded on the 14th of November 1949 by Vasco Botelho de Amaral. Its aims are investigating, spreading and upholding the traditions of the Portuguese language.

The French Academy was officially established in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu, the chief minister to King Louis XIII. It publishes the official dictionary for the French language, known as the Dictionnaire de l’Académie française. As French culture has come under increasing influence from the widespread use of English in media and technology, the Academy has tried to prevent the Anglicisation of the French language through various methods. For example, there was the suggestion that some loanwords from English (such as walkman, software and email) be avoided, in favour of words derived from French (baladeur, logiciel, and courriel respectively).

The Bran Academy was founded in Florence between 1582 and 1583 as an initiative between five Florentine men of letters. One of them was Lionardo Salviati, inventor of a complete cultural and language-coding programme. The name Accademia della Crusca was derived from their lively meetings, playfully called ‘cruscate’ (or ‘bran-meetings’), and came to signify the work of ‘cleaning up’ the language; just as when harvesting and cleaning up wheat, the bran from the wheat is discarded. The newly founded institution adopted as its motto a line from a poem by Francesco Petrarca: “il più bel fior ne coglie” (‘she picks the fairest flower’) and built up a rich symbology based on wheat and bread.

These institutions hold great importance because they are each centres of research that contribute a body of knowledge over these languages that is not only historical, but poignant and applicable to the present. The evolution in the framework of interlinguistic exchanges in the contemporary world is becoming more and more prominent as communities behave in a way that is increasingly globalist.

If you want to make sure that your translations into Spanish, Portuguese, French or Italian are true to the target language and read well, approach SanTranslate, your linguistic experts.

By | August 22nd, 2011|Blog|0 Comments
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