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.

Translated Chinese Literature: Rise in Deals with Respected Publishers outside China

In Major Deals with Foreign Publishing Houses and Copyright Agents, we learn that Chinese copyright holders are becoming more aggressive about finding respected publishing partners for fiction outside China — a change from the earlier practice of working with Chinese affiliates or 2nd-rate overseas publishers:

People’s Literature Publishing House has reached a deal with New York Review of Books and French publisher Hachette Publishing to publish English and French versions of Invisible Cloak, which won writer Ge Fei the 2014 Lu Xun Literature Prize for best novella. The Chinese-to-English translator Canaan Morse won the Susan Sontag Prize for his translation of the book.

 

 

2014 Beijing Book Fair: English-language Guide to Literary Events

August 25 Update: Now Complete & Online — Full Official BIBF Schedule of Literary Events in English (Aug 27-31) Or, if you want it in Chinese, click 活动手册

Sino-Russia Literary Forum (9:00 -17:00, Aug 28, 29)

All day event featuring various Russian and Chinese writers making presentations and engaging in round-table discussions. Russian writers: Irina Barmetova, Ivor Volgin,Sergey Esin, Olga Slavnikova, Igor Egorov, Alexander Girgorenko, Alexander Arhangelski, Valeria Putsovaya,Maxin Amelin, Aleksey Varlamov. Chinese writers: He Jianming, Liang Hongying, Zhaomei, Qiu Huadong, Li Er, Qiao Ye, Zhang Qinghua, Qiao Liang Wang Hongjia. [Read more...]

“Daur Epic Narratives”: New Approach Aims to Capture Original Daur Flavor

达斡尔英雄叙事A few years ago, oral epics of non-Han peoples in China — if ever published — tended to be presented in Chinese (translation). To the uninitiated, this implied that these tales existed just in Chinese.

More recently, bilingual versions have occasionally appeared, i.e., with the original language printed in IPA or a script familiar only to scholars, and a fluent translation provided in Chinese.

Daur Epic Narratives (达斡尔英雄叙事) goes a step further by providing the full tale in Daur (written in Latin letters), a word-by-word literal translation in Chinese characters on the facing page, and then a full, fluent translation of the entire text in modern Chinese. This should allow the reader — be s/he Daur or anyone fluent in written Chinese — to get a better feeling of how the original was told, and how Daur idioms differ from Chinese.

Daur is a Mongolic language. According to Wikipedia (Daur), during the Qing Dynasty, it was written with the Manchu alphabet, but currently “There is no written standard in use, although a Pinyin-based orthography has been devised; instead the Daur make use of Mongolian or Chinese, as most speakers know these languages as well.”

Aug 21 Update: Qingdao to Host Translation Conference in Run-up to Beijing Int’l Book Fair

Qingdao will be the venue for an international translation conference (“中国出版翻译恳谈会”) during Aug 24-25, 2014. It is sponsored by the state-run China Publishing Group (中国出版集团公司).  The press release positions the event as “affiliated” with the Beijing Int’l Book Fair (“BIBF 的分会场和重要活动之一”).

The organizers have provided me with an impressive list of 26 international Sinologists and translators who will be taking part from Austria, Egypt, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Romania, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, and the U.S. They include German Sinologist Wolfgang Kubin; Ezra Vogel (author, Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China); Nicoletta Pesaro (Italian translator of Ma Jian and Yu Hua); Turkey’s Giray Fidan (author, Ottoman Firearms and Ottomans in China during the Kanuni Era); France’s Gilles Cabrero (co-translator, Le Périple de Xiang); and Sabaree Mitra of India (Chinese Women Writers and Gender Discourse). [Read more...]

Beijing Int’l Book Fair Evening Literary Events (Aug 28-Sep 1)

Here’s the Chinese page for this info: 文学之夜 . We can be reasonably (!) certain there will be simultaneous interpretation . . . [Read more...]

Tungusic Twilight: Languages of Reindeer-herding Evenki and China’s Last Dynasty Threatened with Extinction

The mid-term outlook for the five main Tungusic tongues of the People’s Republic — Manchu, Xibe, Evenki, Elunchun and Hezhen — is frankly bleak, at least insofar as classifying as “living languages.” Such is the impression one gets from China’s linguistic experts who spoke at the “Academic Conference: Tungusic Language & Culture Under Threat,” held on July 28, 2014, at Heilongjiang University.

This post summarizes a Chinese-language news report on the conference published by Chinese Social Sciences Today (抢救临危语言). I’ve also added comments of my own, and done my best to separate the two.

Granted, according to a 2010 census, there are reportedly more than ten million people — over 95 percent Manchu — who claim to belong to one of these five ethnicities, living mainly in Heilongjiang, Liaoning, Jilin, Beijing, Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang (Xibe speakers). But only a tiny fraction of them speak the language of their people fluently. For instance, according to fairly recent field research noted at the conference, there are less than 100 native speakers of Manchu in Heilongjiang villages. A study of Hezhen people who live in settlements with other members of their ethnicity found that even there, less than one percent classify as speakers of the language, and they too are over 60. [Read more...]

Tungusic Languages Under Threat: Statistics, Research Projects, Strategies for Protection

Following a conference on the dire straits of Tungusic languages in China — virtually all of which are under threat — four very informative articles have just appeared on the Institute of Ethnic Literature site.  Since they are in Chinese, I hope to summarize the best parts later, but for now, I site some basic statistics here, and follow with a brief description of the articles and list their URLs.

Tungusic languages in China: Hezhen, Evenki, Elunchun (Oroqen), Manchu and Xibe

Distribution: Heilongjiang, Liaoning, Jilin, Beijing, Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang

Populations (2010 census): 10.6 million total, of which 10,387,958 Manchu; 190,481 Xibe; 30,875 Evenki; 8,679 Elunchun; and 5,354 Hezhen

Used as mother tongue: 30,000 persons

大经费投入培养后背高层次人才(赵阿平)

  • Proposals for measures such as bilingual education and establishment of a “linguistic and cultural eco-protection zone” for threatened Tungusic tongues.

不放过田野记忆中任何一个原始符号(朝克)

探访满语“活化石”:黑龙江三家子村考察记(曾红、郝欣)

  • History of field research in San Jia Village since the 1960s, famous for its population of native — but aging — Manchu speakers.

抢救临危语言就是抢救人类文化(郝欣、曾红)

  • Details of discussion at the conference by experts in various Tungusic languages, including up-to-date assessments of the state of each of the major languages, and proposals on how to address the threat of extinction.

Review: “The Emperor Far Away: Travels at the Edge of China”

The Emperor Far AwayIn Antidote to Illusion, Larry Rohter reviews David Eimer’s newly published The Emperor Far Away: Travels at the Edge of China:

“We say China is a country vast in territory, rich in resources and large in population,” Mao Zedong said in a 1956 speech buried deep in the fifth volume of his selected works but cited by Mr. Eimer as a likely explanation for Chinese expansionism. “As a matter of fact, it is the Han nationality whose population is large and the minority nationalities whose territory is vast and whose resources are rich.”