Perceptions of translating/interpreting in first-century China
First-century interpretin, history of interpreting, perceptions of translation, translators in antiquity
This article analyzes evidence of translating and interpreting activities (indiscriminately referred to as yi, which also denotes translators or interpreters in classical Chinese) in first-century China between the Latter Han (25–220 AD) Chinese administration and non-Han Chinese minority tribes along the then Southwestern frontier (modern Yunnan and Sichuan provinces). The importance of this archival record to the historical study of translation and interpreting is two-fold. First, it contains crucial details pertinent to translating and interpreting activities in China in antiquity. Second, it documents concepts of yi synchronically, as perceived by three main participants in the interpreting events: the emperor, the frontier inspector, and the frontier clerk cum interpreter. The presentation of what they actually wrote, said, and did in the first-century interpreting setting in China, with close reference to standard histories, objectively depicts the meanings of yi as perceived by these figures at the time.
Copyright © 2009 John Benjamins
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Reprinted in Interpreting Chinese, Interpreting China, Robin Setton (ed.), Benjamins Current Topics 29, 2011, 11-28.
Lung, W. C. R. (2009). Perceptions of translating/interpreting in first-century China. Interpreting, 11(2), 119-136. doi: 10.1075/intp.11.2.02lun