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Non-Han Languages in China (中国少数民族语言) Talking Translation (翻译话题)

June Training Sessions: Authors of Five Major non-Han Languages Meet their Translators

During June 5-9, Nationalities Literature Magazine (民族文学) organized an intensive “editing/rewriting training course” (改稿班) that brought together the magazine’s editors with twenty-plus Kazakh writers and their translators. Mandarin and Kazakh aside, the magazine appears in Mongolian, Korean, Tibetan and Uyghur, and training sessions for writers and translators of the latter four languages are also scheduled to take place within June, according to the article (改稿班).

We can expect that this will—eventually—lead to fiction written by non-Han authors in their own tongues being published in English. The first step is to get their writing into Mandarin, possibly via Nationalities Literature Magazine, or People’s Literature (人民文学). It will then stand a good chance of appearing in Pathlight, a magazine dedicated to Chinese literature in English translation that is jointly produced by People’s Literature and Paper Republic.

In fact, the Spring 2014 edition of Pathlight will feature writing solely by ethnic writers: fiction by Alat Asem (阿拉提·阿斯木, Uyghur), Ayonga (阿云嘎, Mongolian), Jin Renshun (金仁顺, Korean), Guan Renshan (关仁山, Manchu), Li Jinxiang (李进祥, Hui), Memtimem Hoshur (买买提明·吾守尔, Uyghur),Ye Guangqin (叶广芩, Manchu) and Yerkex Hurmanbek (叶尔克西·胡尔曼别克, Kazakh);  poetry by Artai (Mongolian,阿尔泰), Aydos Amantay (艾多斯·阿曼泰, Kazakh), Jidi Majia (吉狄马加, Yi-Nuosu), Luruodiji (鲁若迪基, Pumi), Ma Huan (马桓, Hui) and Nie Le (聂勒, Wa); and non-fiction by Patigul (帕蒂古丽, Uyghur), Ye Fu (野夫, Tujia), Ye Mei (叶梅, Tujia) and Tenzin (丹增, Tibetan). The full contents aren’t up online yet, but the cover, contents page and link to purchase should be here soon.

A quick (if incomplete) list of those present at the recent Kazakh session:

Session speakers (authors, officials)

Trainees (authors and translators)

  • 巴拉潘·热巴吐; 夏坎·柏克泰; 哈志别克 and 哈迪拉

Hopefully the training sessions noted above are a bit less political than the June 9-13 event attended by 70 or so minority-language translators who work for the State Ethnic Affairs Commission. According to this report (高级研修班),  they were treated to a conference focusing on how China wisely handles the “ethnic question” (民族问题) by relying on correct implementation of the Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy (民族区域自治法).

Comparisons were offered between China’s approach, and that of the Soviet Union, which nowadays usually serves as an example of how not to do things. Tellingly, three very recent events were also analyzed:

  • The Kunming March 1 train station massacre allegedly carried out by Uyghur separatists
  • Crimea’s referendum and consequent reunification with Russia
  • The Sunflower Movement’s student-led occupation of the Taiwan legislature to protest China trade pact

Who said translation isn’t political?

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