In June 2014, we ran a series of collaborative translation events in China and in the UK. Our events invite small bilingual groups to translate a text English to Chinese or Chinese to English, and are organised on a competitive basis, with two kinds of prizes – one for speed, and one for quality. We announce a winner for the most characters translated on the spot, but quality takes more time to judge.
In Leeds, we worked in partnership with the Leeds University centre for translation. This time, the winner was a group translating from English into Chinese, for their beautiful rendition of a text by Professor Sherman young on the electronic future of books, called ‘The Living Dead’. Here is what our judges have to say: “This is a very impressive translation starting from the title – ‘不朽之书’ ! It can be sensed from the translation that a good understanding of the original article and a skilled transfer are between English and Chinese – both in the word choosing and structure modification. The use of Chinese words is rich and appropriate, which is a perfect example of localization.”
Read the original first paragraph below, follow by its Mandarin translation. The full original text is accessible here.
Five years is an eternity in the digital age. The Book is Dead was published in 2007 (and written in 2006) so it’s no surprise that the book world is now dramatically different. Back then, suggesting that the future of books was electronic was pretty provocative. Luckily for me, things unfolded pretty much as I’d expected (or hoped!) While printed books are obviously still around, it’s clear that the momentum in publishing (whether it be books, magazines or newspapers) has shifted from paper to screens. Amazon now sells more electronic books than printed ones and almost all the things we used to read on dead trees — from The New York Times to Ulysses — have migrated to an electronic format. The entire book industry from publishers, through booksellers to readers and writers is in the midst of enormous upheaval – mostly to do with how they might survive in the brave new digital world. Yes, some doomsayers continue to cling grimly to old leather bound editions and scare young children with their gloom, but I think we’ve reached the tipping point, and ebooks are fast becoming normal.