Posted by Joel Martinsen on Monday, November 2, 2009 at 12:45 PM
The Beijing Subway system recently issued a bilingual safety manual for riders on the Airport Express line. Zhai Hua, a blogger who posts on cross-cultural issues, noted several types of problems with the booklet:
On October 30, the Beijing Youth Daily summarized Zhai's blog post and asked the subway company for an explanation:
"Experts" could conceivably argue over whether to use "metro" or "subway," if the city hadn't already decided on the latter, but many of the errors in the pamphlet are indefensible.
Zhai notes that few years ago, an "expert" was cited in defense of Shanghai's use of "model unit" as a translation of, an honor bestowed on organizations that meet certain standards of excellence. Zhai and other Internet commentators felt that the city's translation captured none of the meaning of the original and could be misinterpreted as referring to a promotional apartment unit in a new development.
The city's response to Xinmin Online:
Other parts of the country use "civilized unit," a translation that has its own problems. Yet when pressed, they would probably be able to justify the choice by appealing to the judgment of an expert.
Links and Sources
Jobs in China
Henry on The Eurasian Face
Caroline W on Big in China
Michael on Julia Lovell on translating Lu Xun's complete fiction: "His is an angry, searing vision of China"
Brandon K. on Clueless academic takes on popular fantasy novels
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The Eurasian Face : Blacksmith Books, a publishing house in Hong Kong, is behind The Eurasian Face, a collection of photographs by Kirsteen Zimmern. Below is an excerpt from the series:
Big in China: An adapted excerpt from Big In China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising A Family, Playing The Blues and Becoming A Star in China, just published this month. Author Alan Paul tells the story of arriving in Beijing as a trailing spouse, starting a blues band, raising kids and trying to make sense of China.
Pallavi Aiyar's Chinese Whiskers: Pallavi Aiyar's first novel, Chinese Whiskers, a modern fable set in contemporary Beijing, will be published in January 2011. Aiyar currently lives in Brussels where she writes about Europe for the Business Standard. Below she gives permissions for an excerpt.
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+ Korean history doesn't fly on Chinese TV screens (2007.09): SARFT puts the kibbosh on Korean historical dramas.
+ Religion and government in an uneasy mix (2008.03): Phoenix Weekly (凤凰周刊) article from October, 2007, on government influence on religious practice in Tibet.
+ David Moser on Mao impersonators (2004.10): I first became aware of this phenomenon in 1992 when I turned on a Beijing TV variety show and was jolted by the sight of "Mao Zedong" and "Zhou Enlai" playing a game of ping pong. They both gave short, rousing speeches, and then were reverently interviewed by the emcee, who thanked them profusely for taking time off from their governmental duties to appear on the show.