On November 1, we’re running the first Marco Polo Marathon – a guided journey through language and culture.

Marco Polo Marathon

Join us for an exciting day of varied activities, at the Multicultural Hub, 509 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne

10h00 – 10h30Language in your hand How would you sculpt a word like ‘home’, ‘friend’ or ‘animal’?

10h30 – 10h45Interpreting the world – Opening address by Charles Qin, Founder of Chin Communications

10h45 – 11h45China food tourhunt and gather food from the four corners of China at nearby shops, and share your bilingual stories of China’s diversity through food memories

11h45 – 12h45 – Twitterpretation – take part in a bilingual-live-tweet-fest of iconic Chinese and Australian videos

12h45 – 13h30 – 一起吃饭 informal language exchange around lunch.

13h30 – 15h00 – Translators in context join leading translators and interpreters in a panel discussion, exploring the complex interaction between language experts and the diverse institutions and systems they work with.

15h00 – 17h15 – All you can translate – join a bilingual team and translate new writing from Australia and China – the fastest translators will receive a small gift.

17h15 – 17h30 – Closing address – how to live happy bilingual lives in Australia and China.

Booking is free, but necessary. Please book here, or through our facebook event page.

Who’s your favourite Beijing writer? Lao She, and his insightful observations of life among the Hutongs, from theatrical ambitions to family tensions? Wang Shuo. and his dystopian exploration of the Beijing underworld? Or Feng Tang and his chronicles of dispassionate Beijing youth?

Beijing concert

On Saturday 23, 2h30pm, come to ACMI – The Cube, and discover Beijing through the eyes of Melbourne writer and Marco Polo Festival director Julien Leyre, and 南方都市报 cultural analyst and senior Beijing correspondent Zhang Tianpan. This imaginary journey through the Chinese capital will be facilitated by writer Nic Low, as part of a Melbourne Writers Festival series called ‘City to City‘ – and as part of the Marco Polo Festival.

We wish to particularly thank Chin Communication for sponsoring this session!

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Nervous cat‘ was developed in Nanjing over three days, and played over 10 million times. Prison guards developed an industry forcing prisoners to play World of Warcraft all day to ‘train up’ characters. One of China’s most popular Online Game, ‘Legend of Three Kingdoms‘, was inspired by a literary classic.

Sanguosha

On Tuesday 26, 4pm, the Marco Polo Festival organises a session about ‘Gaming Culture’ in Australia and China, as part of an evening on ‘The Creative in Translation’ – come and explore the fascinating world of video games in Australia and china.

Signal Space, Northbank, Flinders Walk (between Flinders st station tracks and the Yarra river), Melbourne.

From August 23 to 27, Jiamin Zhao, co-founder of Yeeyan, will be visiting Melbourne as part of the Marco Polo Festival and Melbourne Writers Festival. Yeeyan started in 2006 as a simple community translation platform, bringing news articles from Western media to Chinese readers. Eight years down the track, it has developed a complex and robust crowd-sourcing model that involves a very large community – over 500,000 registered users now – in an organised process to bring diverse works in foreign language into Mandarin.

“Yes! I’m excited to come to Australia,” says Jiamin. “It’s completely new to me. I went to America, I went to Europe, but had never been in Australia before. And it’s not connected to any other continents. There must be something unique, something you can only find here, not only the species of animals, but also culture and traditions.”

On August 23, 4pm, at the Wheeler Centre Workshop space, Jiamin will talk about ‘The Third Culture‘. “The term is borrowed from John Brockman, and describes the intersection of humanity and science. It’s still a narrow field for readers, but the trend is already there. Technology is changing the culture, is changing how people write, read and think. That’s what I would suggest to talk more about.”

Following this session, he’s inviting Australian authors to meet him, and discuss the potential for translating their work into Chinese. Science fiction, children’s book, travel guides, maybe poems, would probably appeal to a Chinese readership – but Jiamin is mostly looking to discover our unique culture and perspective on the world: like many, he says he knows little for the moment about Australian writing. “I need to learn about it. That’s one of the reasons that I am coming.”

How can Yeeyan contribute to Australian literature? “Hah, this is something new, something valuable that we can bring to Australia. Let me use the example of Yeeyan’s Gutenberg Project. In two years, our community has translated and published – electronically – more than 200 books in public domain. With only two in-house editors, we have about 300 community editors and more than 15 thousand community translators involved in the project. We have developed a whole online collaboration process, starting from recommending titles, to recruiting editors and translators, to collaborative translation, to cross-proofreading and independent quality assurance. This is the so-called crowdsourcing model. With Internet technology and a new organizational structure, I hope Yeeyan can help Australian publishers and writers to quickly promote their works to Chinese readers.”

So – come share your stories with him!

The full program of the Marco Polo Festival is available at marcopolodiglitfest.org

With 1.3 billion people, over 600 million internet users, and a booming economy, China seems ripe for crowd-funding. Whether in the arts, innovation or development, new digital fund-raising models may represent a huge opportunity for Chinese social entrepreneurs and innovators. More generally, the growth of crowd-funding in China may be one facet of a fast-developing collaborative economy.

Did you know that Australia’s own crowd-funding platform Pozible is now entering the Chinese market, with great initial success ? Did you know that Tencent – China’s leading internet company – launched a crowd-funding platform to support social projects, with support from the British Council? Did you know that Yeeyan, China’s largest community translation platform, now counts over 500,000 users, actively translating a large catalogue of magazine article and public domain classics.

What is the present – and future – of these new digital initiatives and communities – and how do Chinese experiences differ from Australian ones? Join Rick Chen and Jiamin Zhao for a conversation about ‘writing online and shaping culture’ at the Pozible Office in Collingwood to find out.

Details and registration here.

Meanwhile – to practice your Mandarin – you can listen to Pozible Founder Rick Chen/陈钢 describe their China strategy here.

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.

Over the coming weeks, we will post here the best translations produced during this first Marco Polo world tour. The series starts beautifully with this paragraph translated during our first event, at the School of Oriental and Asian Studies in London, by Ibtehaal Mukhtar Manji. The piece is set in Xinjiang, and describes the experience of a Han Chinese person travelling on a bus to Kashgar.

“几经折腾终于坐上了去喀什的长途汽车,踏上客车,一眼望去,都是一样的面孔,说的是一种语言,好像只有我是一个外来人,显得格外分明与另类,周围的眼光都投向了我,那些异样好奇的眼神,看的我心里一阵颤栗。偏偏我的座位是最后一排,等我走到座位的时候,座位上已经坐了一位维吾尔族的老奶奶。白色的头巾,一身黑色的长衣,两鬓的皱纹一轮高过一轮,我想和她说话,可是不知道怎么说,因为为不会维语,她也听不懂汉语。 ”

“After much frustration, I could finally board the long distance coach to Kashgar. I stepped on the bus; as far as the eye could see, all the faces were the same, speaking one language. It seemed as though I was the only foreigner. I looked particularly distinct and unusual. All the surrounding eyes were cast on me, those unusually curious eyes saw the trembling in my heart. Unfortunately my seat was in the last row. By the time I made it to my seat, an old Uyghur woman was already sitting in it. A white headscarf, a full-length black coat (abaya), two wrinkles on her forehead, one higher than the other. I want to talk to her, but I don’t know how to, because I can’t speak Uyghur, and she doesn’t understand Chinese.”

And here is a self introduction by Ibtehaal: ” My name is Ibtehaal, and I’m currently studying for a degree in Chinese and Economics at SOAS, London. Less than three years ago, I didn’t know a word of Chinese, but I didn’t let that stop me from pursuing my interest in languages. I have since developed a particular interest in China’s Xinjiang, having read extensively about the region’s rich cultural heritage, and witnessing her beautiful landscapes.”

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.

Our Shanghai event was very special for two reasons. One, we partnered with United Verses, and translated poetry – including micro-poems by Kate Larsen. Second, we partnered with Fudan High School, and some of our translators were teenagers from their International Baccalaureate stream. This is the case of our winning team – Edwin, Erika and Blair -selected for their translation of a poem by Yisha, which we will publish here in its entirety. We wish to particularly underline the apt translation of ‘降龙十八掌’ as ‘eighteen dragon fist’ – and remember fondly the discussions and gestures that accompanied the explanation of this Kung-Fu position.

三个死囚 / 被反剪双手 / 跪在战壕中 / 等待行刑 / 蒙面刽子手 / 立在其对面 / 马步蹲裆 / 运足了气 / 大喝一声 / 忽然使出 / 降龙十八掌 / 三个死囚 / 三声惨叫 / 呜呼哀哉 / 当场毙命 / 变成了 / 三股青烟 / 直上云天

我就在现场 / 目击到这一幕 / 作为一名神甫 / 为死囚的灵魂 / 祈祷 / 并聆听他们的 / 忏悔 / 此刻 / 我安慰下一组 / 将要受刑的一位毒死 / 对其长年施暴的丈夫 / 留下一个儿子的女囚道:/ “忏悔吧 / 你会重生 / 投胎转世 / 与你儿子重逢”

“拉倒吧 / 下辈子谁知道 / 投胎成啥玩意” / 刀条脸

Three of the condemned
With their hands bound
Kneeling in a trench
Awaited execution

The hooded executioner
Standing in front of them
Going into the horse stance
Breathed deeply
And cried out
Suddenly striking out with
His Eighteen-Dragon Fist

Three of the condemned
Three great shrieks
Oh, the pain
Killed instantly
Becoming three puffs of smoke
Floating up to the sky

I was there
And witnessed the scene
As a priest
For the souls of the condemned
Preying
And hearing their
Confessions
At this moment
I was comforting the next prisoner
A female prisoner who would receive punishment
For poisoning her husband
Who had abused her for many years
Leaving her son alone
“Confess,
And you will be born to new life,
You will live again in the next world,
You will meet your son again.”

“Save it,
Who knows about the next life,
And what you will become.”
The female prisoner with high cheekbones
Said indifferently
But then became full of longing
And said, “If there really were a life after this,
I want to be a cricket,
And be trapped by my son……”

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.

在当今的数字时代,五年内就能发生翻天覆地的变化。《不朽之书》写于2006年,并于2007年出版,因此不难理解如今的书界早已截然不同。在当时,提出书将向电子化发展是极为激进的。幸运的是,事情正向我所预料(或者说期待!)的方向发展。显然,尽管纸质书籍依旧存在,如今出版潮流已由纸质发行转向电子出版,无论是书籍、杂志还是报纸。现在亚马逊电子刊物销量已反超纸质刊物,而且我们过去读的几乎所有纸质刊物,从《纽约时报》到《尤利西斯》,都已向电子版转型。整个图书产业——上至出版社,经由书商下到读者和作者,都深陷巨大的震荡之中——大多事关他们将如何勇敢地在这新数字世界中生存下去。的确,一些灾难预言者依旧固守着老皮革精装书,并以其肃穆震慑后辈,但我认为转折点已经到来,电子刊物正迅速成为常态。

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 Suzhou, we were particularly happy to welcome a team of French translators – and they did such a good job that we decided to give them the first prize for the translation of this paragraph of a text by Zhang Tianpan. Have you ever come across the word ‘. Well? Here is a short, synthetic description of the concept and its history. We particularly appreciated the choie of idiomatic French expressions, and effort to create smooth syntactic flow in the French target text. Well done to Martin Delasalle and Emmanuel on this one!

土豪被中国人所熟知,与土改和革命时期的“打土豪,分田地”有关。那时的土豪,是被专政与被打击的对象,因为为富不仁、盘剥贫苦农民、破坏革命等是他们的标签。但现状的“土豪”,其含义已经彻底改变,这个网络词语最简单的解释就是“土气的富豪”,它多被用来形容网络上的花钱无脑的人和极爱炫耀的族群。

“Tu Hao”, dans l’imaginaire collectif,renvoie aux tyrans locaux victimes de la répartition des terres durant les périodes de troubles révolutionnaires et de la réforme agraire. Ils étaient à l’époque la cible des changements de régime, puisque étiquetés comme riches, sans merci, profiteurs de la misère paysanne, saboteurs de la révolution, etc. Quant aux “Tu Hao” de nos jours, le sens de l’expression perdure malgré le changement d’époque, à savoir que celle-ci est utilisée pour désigner la “suffisance des nantis”, de ces gens qui dépensent sans compter et qui aiment particulièrement faire étalage de leur fric.