XJP Models Umbrella in Occupy Central: Time’s 2014 Best-dressed Man of the Year?

Good to see a mainlander doing the right thing!

Good to see a mainlander doing the right thing—and so fashionably attired to boot!



A bit of low-cost, high-comic value brought to us by PhotoShop . . .

Annual Fund: Xinjiang Spending to Inspire Translation, Writing in non-Han Languages

In 新疆双翻工程 (Xinjiang Two-way Translation Project), Kyrgyz female translator Saina Yiersibieke (赛娜·伊尔斯拜克) introduces a well-funded project based in multi-ethnic Xinjiang. A few factoids from the article:

  • 2011: Project founded by the Xinjiang government to stimulate mother-tongue writing in languages spoken in Xinjiang other than Mandarin + translation between those languages and Mandarin.
  • US$1.63m: Annual budget.
  • 2013: Project widened to facilitate “cross-fertilization” among different ethnicities, i.e., translation of writing between non-Han languages of Xinjiang.
  • 2014: 173 works published to date (100 original works, 73 translations)

Cultivating Uyghur Writers and Translators

Uyghur editionAs I’ve reported before (Sessions), the editors at China’s very official Nationalities Literature Magazine (民族文学), which appears in 5 languages plus Mandarin, are heading up a nationwide series of “rewriting/editing training courses” (改稿班). The latest took place in Urumqi in late September, and brought together more than 30 Uyghur writers and their translators, along with editors of the Uyghur edition of the magazine.

Among the participating writers and translators were:

As I tried to research these writers and translators online, I was struck by the lack of links. Several didn’t show up on the first page of results, and none of them appeared to have any links to the English-speaking Internet. This is notable because many Han writers can now be found in English by searching either for their name in Latin letters, or by simultaneously searching for them in both Chinese and pinyin.  Also, I was struck by how old most of them are — several must be in their sixties (at least), and their “biographies” listed no new publications since the 90s. So where is the new generation of Uyghur writers/translators?

Trainers for the sessions included:

The Uyghur edition of Nationalities Literature Magazine also plays an important role in translating into Uyghur works by foreign and China writers of various ethnicities. They have included writing by Lao She (Manchu), Wang Zengqi, Tie Ning, Wang Meng, Mo Yan, Ma Shitu, A Lai (Tibetan), Ye Guangqin (Manchu), Jidi Majia (Yi), Malchinkuu (Mongolian), Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Neruda and Orhan Pamuk.

New Guidelines for China Literary Awards: You Don’t Need a Weatherman

In Art and Literature Awards to Evaluate ‘Social Benefits’ of Works, Nectar Gan reports that in the wake of Xi Jinping’s speech on the arts last week, the Ministry of Culture:

. . . will now develop a set of criteria for the evaluation for arts and literature according to the demands of Xi and party [said Zhu Di, head of the art department of the ministry].

The guidelines will focus on social benefits, artistic standards, aesthetic taste and popular acclaim instead of solely relying on commercial success, critical acclaim and online popularity.

“I Am Malala” and China’s Nobel Prize Complex

Readers in Taiwan were reading I am Malala a year ago — in Chinese (我是马拉拉), if they wished.

So why is it that people living in China still can’t get their hands on a version published in simplified Chinese?

As usual, you aren’t going to find out via the mainstream media in China. Several items have appeared lionizing the Sichuan People’s Press for我是马拉拉 its “timely” purchase of the rights to publish it in China, and its damn near herculean efforts to get it out to consumers by . . . the end of this month (我是马拉拉 “四川造”).

Given that the China version is based on the Taiwan one — same translator, 翁雅如 — translation time was obviously not a major factor in the year-long discrepancy in publication times. The China edition will apparently be polished or partially re-translated by 朱浩, but the article suggests that this is mainly to ensure place names, etc., are rendered according to PRC standards.

It could be that joint venture publisher and rights holder Hachette Phoenix was asking for a higher price than Chinese publishers were at first willing to pay.

At any rate, it’s clear that when Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Chinese publishing world could now be confident that she’d sell well in China. And so a deal to publish her book was struck within just a day or two of the Nobel Committee’s announcement this month.

Kind of sad, really. Surely the story of a fearless young Pakistani who took a bullet in the head as the price for promoting girls’ education would have been of interest to Chinese readers, regardless of a nobel laureate’s halo?

China Censorship Update: GAPP’s Latest Publication Ban and Watch-list

I have learned that works by Yu Ying-shih (余英时, historian), Leung Man-tao (梁文道, social commentator), Xu Zhiyuan (许志远, newspaper columnist), Ye Fu (野夫), Chen Ziming (陈子鸣, democracy activist), Mao Yushi (茅于轼, economist), Zhang Qianfan (张千帆, legal expert at Beijing U) and Xu Xiao (许 徐晓) can no longer be published in China, according to a publishing professional who attended the October 11 meeting where this was announced by GAPP (广电局), which wields the nation’s censorship taser.

It appears one reason behind this is that some of these personalities have come out in support of Hong Kong’s ongoing Occupy Central campaign [Read more...]

Trend: Chinese Fiction Writers Opting to Publish First Outside the Mainland

Death FugueJoining popular contemporary fiction authors such as Feng Tang (不二), Yan Lianke (四书) and Murong Xuecun (various essays), female writer Sheng Keyi has chosen to publish one of her latest works first in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Death Fugue (死亡赋格) has also been translated by Shelly Bryant and published in English in Australia.

In Chinese Writer, Tackling Tiananmen, Aims for Work with “Power to Offend” (Oct 10 NY Times), Jane Perlez reports:

Publishers in China, including Penguin, which released an earlier novel by Ms. Sheng, “Northern Girls” [北妹] about the sexual exploits of young women who migrate to the cities, passed on “Death Fugue.” Chinese editors decided the story line was too controversial. Penguin, she said, failed to give her a response. The novel has appeared in Hong Kong and Taiwan in Chinese, and last month, it made its English-translation debut with a small Australian literary imprint, Giramondo.

“Last Quarter of the Moon” Long-listed for Banff Mountain Book Competition

Banff Mountain FestivalI’ve just learned that Last Quarter of the Moon, my translation of Chi Zijian’s 《额尔古纳河右岸》, has been nominated for the “Mountain Fiction and Poetry Award.” Winners will be announced November 6, 2014 at The Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival in Banff, Alberta.

Annoyingly, my name is not listed as translator of the novel, despite the fact that it couldn’t have been nominated if I hadn’t rendered it in English . . .

Narrated in the first person by the aged wife of the last chieftain of an Evenki clan, the Last Quarter of the Moon (or Right Bank of the Argun, as it is dubbed in Chinese)  is a moving tale of the decline of reindeer-herding nomads in the sparsely populated, richly forested Greater Khingan mountains (大兴安岭山脉) that border on Russia.

At the end of the twentieth century an old woman sits among the birch trees and thinks back over her life, her loves, and the joys and tragedies that have befallen her family and her people. She is a member of the Evenki tribe who wander the remote forests of northeastern China with their herds of reindeer, living in close sympathy with nature at its most beautiful and cruel.

Over the last three centuries, three waves of outsiders have encroached upon the Evenki’s isolated way of life: the Russians, whose warring and plundering eventually pushed the Evenki down from Siberia across to the southern (“right”) bank of the Argun River, the tributary of the Amur that defines the Sino-Russian border; the Japanese, who forcibly recruit their men into the ranks of the Manchukuo Army; and the Han Chinese of the People’s Republic, who fell the forests that are crucial to the survival of reindeer, outlaw hunting, and eventually coerce the Evenki to leave the mountains for life in a “civilized” permanent settlement.

If you’re interested in how the Evenki christened the peaks, rivers and settlements among which they lived for centuries, check out Evenki Place Names Behind the HànzìFor dozens of marvelous photos of Evenki handicrafts, and the Evenki in the wild herding their deer, hunting and so forth, see Northern Hunting Culture. In her Afterword to the novel— in English here — author Chi Zijian recounts how she grew up near the Argun River and mountains inhabited by the Oroqen, close relatives of the Evenki.

Created 39 years ago, the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival showcases films, books and photographs on mountain subjects – climbing, culture, environment and natural history, exploration and adventure, wildlife, and sport – and attracts personalities in mountaineering, adventure filmmaking, and extreme sports as presenters and speakers. More than 80 films will screen during the nine-day festival, and an international jury will award over $50,000 in prizes.

Big Breasts and Wide Hips for the Turks

As reported earlier on my blog (Monopoly), the Turks are working feverishly to bring the works of China’s Nobel Laureate, Mo Yan, to Turkey.Iri Memeler ve Geniş Kalçalar

His latest edition to launch in Turkish: İri Memeler ve Geniş Kalçalar (丰乳肥臀 aka Big Breasts and Wide Hips), translated by Erdem Kurtuldu and published by Can Yayınları. Next to appear will reportedly be Frog (蛙) and Life and Death are Wearing Me Out (生死疲劳). Kızıl Darı Tarlaları (Red Sorghum) hit the shelves in 2013.

See table for details on other Chinese novels available in Turkish.

New Chinese Dictionary: Just Another Reason Why Translators Need Google

20140826165308b3619In What’s In a Wordwe learn that the latest update of The Dictionary of Modern Standard Chinese (现代汉语规范辞典) from the Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press has intentionally excluded the following popular vocabulary:

Not admitted to the new edition were such words as diaosi (屌丝), literally “silk penis” but meaning “loser”; shengnü (剩女), or “leftover woman”; shengnan (剩男), “leftover man”; and baifumei (白富美), meaning “white, rich and beautiful.”

Why so?

Li Xingjian, the chief editor of the dictionary, said a team of about 30 language experts worked for more than three years with help from the state-backed National Languages Committee to select the new terms. They took into account three main considerations: whether the term has entered public discourse, whether circulation of the term has stabilized and whether the term meets a minimum level of tastefulness.

“We considered and discussed a huge list,” Mr. Li said in a telephone interview. “A term like diaosi is not very tasteful, and it’s unlikely to endure for much longer. And shengnü, we just thought it wasn’t that significant. It’s used a lot by young people online, but otherwise people don’t really use it.”

Like just about all the Chinese and Chinese-English dictionaries I’ve seen published in China, this one obviously falls into the “prescriptive” category, i.e., unlike “descriptive” ones which focus on capturing linguistic phenomena — regardless of political correctness — a prescriptive dictionary’s editors perceive their mission as noting only those words which are, well, “fit to print.”

I’ve been back in China from Turkey now for about two weeks, and I’ve spent quite a bit of time ensuring I have a good VPN service that gives me access to Google and other online research tools. The philosophy behind this sort of dictionary is one reason why such access is essential.