The Marco Polo Project is a community website inviting emerging translators to practice their skills while making new voices from China accessible to the world. Some of our users have been particularly active on the site, and we thought we should give them the attention they deserve.
Today, we start the series with Simon Cooper from the UK.
Simon, tell us a bit about yourself – where are you from, where do you live, what do you do?
I’m from England and have a background in civil and structural engineering. Currently I’m in England focusing my time on studying Mandarin Chinese. Part of this involves translation from Chinese into English. This exposes oneself to texts written by native Chinese people which increases vocabulary, reading ability, grammar awareness and cultural appreciation.
How long have you been learning Chinese? What got you started with the language?
I’ve been learning Chinese since 2011. At the time I was in Taiwan and had already taught English there for a year. However, I still hardly knew any Mandarin. I decided I wanted to change this, and so enrolled at Chiayi University Language Center to study Mandarin full time. I found it one of the most interesting and rewarding learning experiences I’ve had, and so have continued to study it ever since.
How did you first hear about Marco Polo Project?
On this post at Olle Linge’s Hacking Chinese website: http://www.hackingchinese.com/using-translating-to-improve-your-chinese/ The article mainly emphasizes the use of translating English into Chinese as a way to improve your Chinese. However, to translate well this way I believe you must first have read and understood a lot of Chinese written by native speakers. Translating Chinese to English is a process that certainly helps with this.
What do you like most about Marco Polo Project?
The fact that it’s mutually beneficial to practitioners of translation and those who want to read about Chinese culture in a different language.
Do you have any particular translation tip or technique you’d like to share?
When you get stuck translating a word or phrase, this is often because the Chinese to English dictionaries aren’t comprehensive enough. In these situations, using Chinese to Chinese dictionaries will often solve the problem. I’ve often found definitions of words I couldn’t find before or even new definitions that aren’t in Chinese to English dictionaries. If this fails, it might be a term that’s been created recently to comment on something specific, in which case doing a Google search of it will lead you to different articles that use it or even explain it directly (such as those in Wikipedia). Reading these articles will hopefully reveal the meaning of the term. If you’re still unsure of your translation, asking a native speaker always helps. They can always rephrase something in Chinese which you then can translate into English.
Thank you Simon! I hope we’ll read more of your translations on Marco Polo Project!
You can check out Simon’s personal page and a list of his translated work by clicking on this link.