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一周一句 Sunday Sentence #4

By Jack Hargreaves, June 20, '20

Week 4 of Sunday Sentence! Halfway through!

A lesser-known writer this week, but one of my favourites, Yang Dian 杨典 and the two opening sentences of his short story, 《朱厌》, which I've tentatively translated for the purposes of this exercise as 'Ape of War'. The story is taken from his as-yet untranslated 2019 collection, Stories from the Goose Cage 《鹅笼记》.

Please input your translation in the comments box at the bottom of the page.

The sentences to translate are:

Remember, you can post your translation today or any day next week, so you have plenty of time to think about it and there's no need to rush.


一周一句 Sunday Sentence #3

By Jack Hargreaves, June 14, '20

For week 3 of Sunday Sentence, we're turning to one of the best-known Chinese writers of the 20th Century, Zhang Ailing, and the opening line of her book, 《色戒》(1979), translated by Julia Lovell and released in 2007 as, of course, Lust, Caution. Thanks to Dylan Levi King for suggesting this "deceptively simple" peach of a sentence.

Please input your translation in the comments box at the bottom of the page.

The sentences to translate are:

Remember, you can post your translation today or any day next week, so you have plenty of time to think about it and there's no need to rush.


一周一句 Sunday Sentence #2

By Jack Hargreaves, June 6, '20

For this week of Sunday Sentence, we have something entirely different: a big announcement taken from page 118 of Yan Ge's 颜歌《我们家》(2013), released in 2018 as The Chilli Bean Paste Clan, translated by Nicky Harman.

Please input your translation in the comments box at the bottom of the page.

The sentences to translate are: 他遂自己端起杯子来把里头的酒喝了,要把勇气豪气和阳气都鸡巴喝出来。给你们说,他宣布,老子又把婆娘的肚皮搞大了。

Remember, you can post your translation today or any day next week, so you have plenty of time to think about it and there's no need to rush.


一周一句 Sunday Sentence #1

By Jack Hargreaves, May 30, '20

And we're off! This is the first week of Sunday Sentence, so if you missed the post explaining the activity, click here for more details.

Otherwise... To start we have three sentences for you to translate, taken from page 13 of Jin Yong's 金庸 《射雕英雄传》(first released in 1959), entitled A Hero Born (Legends of the Condor Heroes 1) in Anna Holmwood's translation.

Please input your translation in the comments box at the bottom of the page.

The sentences to translate are:

Remember, you can post your translation today or any day next week, so you have plenty of time to think about it and there's no need to rush.


Sunday Sentence 一周一句

By Jack Hargreaves, May 28, '20

Eyes peeled and pens sharpened everyone!

Sentence #1 - Jin Yong

Sentence #2 - Yan Ge

Sentence #3 - Zhang Ailing

Sentence #4 - Yang Dian

Sentence #5 - Dorothy Tse

Sentence #6 - Sheng Keyi

Sentence #7 - Yeng Pway Ngon is now online

This Sunday 31st May begins a two-month activity of online translation workshopping which anyone and everyone who knows Chinese and writes English can get involved with. A famously lonely endeavor, translation, when done with others, becomes a rambunctious language game in which all the best nitpicking and head scratching go on. So since face-to-face workshops are called off for the foreseeable future, Paper Republic is launching Sunday Sentence, or in Chinese, 一周一句!
Every Sunday a sentence will be posted here on the website as well as on Twitter and Facebook, and you are invited to have a go translating it! The sentences have been picked by PR team members and other CH-EN translators for being particularly challenging to render in English for some reason or another, challenging enough we hope to produce endless different possible translations and start some discussion around the strategies people employ when translating literary Chinese and the reasons behind their decisions. All translations and discussion should be posted in the comment sections of the Sunday Sentence page when it goes online.
First up is a sentence picked by Anna Holmwood, translator of Jin Yong! So to whet your wuxia appetite, from this Saturday onward, you can listen to Angus Stewart’s conversation with another translator of Jin Yong, Gigi Chang, on the Translated Chinese Fiction podcast
See you this Sunday!

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Jia Pingwa and His Women

By Dylan Levi King, May 17, '20

When Nicky Harman and I received Jia Pingwa’s invitation to visit him in Xi’an last spring ("Jia Pingwa's Hometown"), apart from being mobbed by fans at an opera performance and shepherded through a tour of Xi Zhongxun’s old cave home by enthusiastic local bureaucrats and Party functionaries (many not even born when Jia’s literary stardom reached its first peak in the early 1990s), the most surreal experience was poking around his writing desk. The desk itself is obscured completely by towers of books. To get to the chair he sits at to write, which is draped with fur, you need to be slim enough to slide between two walls of stacked up novels, reference manuals, works on local customs history books, and volumes of poetry. The available work area on the desktop is also limited—there are too many books piled up, and there has to be room for a carton of cigarettes and an ashtray, too. When we visited in the spring, the small amount of available work area was covered in pages from a novel that he was writing—black felt-tip pen on white pages, longhand—a biscuit tin (for completed pages), and left open beside it, a book of Eileen Chang short stories.

He told us that it would be an urban novel.

That would make it his first extended return to the city since Happy Dreams 高兴 in 2007 (it’s a book he doesn’t consider an urban novel, since it concerns migrant workers from the countryside).

Of course, his novels are invariably never about just the city or just country, but about the tension between them, characters trapped perpetually in between. The idea of an extended return to the city, though, years on from urban novels like White Nights 白夜, was intriguing.

When I returned late last summer for the 29th China National Book Expo ("迪兰先生, world famous Sinologist / 29届书博会"), Jia was talking publicly about a city book, for which he was still working on final drafts.

The novel (or perhaps novels) will be published by the Writers Publishing House 作家出版社 in July, and some lucky people have already gotten their hands on it, but the Jia Pingwa Research Institute 贾平凹文化艺术研究院 earlier today posted the afterword of the announced novel:


The Jia Pingwa afterword is almost a genre in itself. It's the reason why Jia's novels are best started from the rear—you need the afterword to explain what you're about to read.

In the afterword to Sit Awhile 暂坐, Jia explains that the germ of the novel was a tea shop in his building, where he drank tea twice a day, and his observations of the peculiar world of the owner and the women that drifted through. He writes in this novel about women, mostly, he says, because he lacked confidence. “I found myself no longer writing the women, but the women writing me.”

It makes sense now why he might have been referring back to Eileen Chang’s short stories. I quite like the idea of Jia Pingwa attempting a Chu T'ien-wen-style novel about the interconnected lives of urban women.

Earlier this year, I wrote about the Nicky Harman's masterful translation of Jia's Broken Wings 极花 for ACA ("‘Broken Wings’: Jia Pingwa’s Controversial Novel Explores Human Trafficking And Rural China"), and noted the sharp criticism that followed its original publication, with the author branded a male chauvinist. On the contrary, I've always found Jia's women characters mostly sympathetic and—in recent books, at least— usually rendered with more care than his male characters. But it will be interesting to see if the critics that appeared for Broken Wings will pop up again.

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Travelogue: A Poetic Journey through Western China

By Bruce Humes, May 17, '20

Anna Sherman’s travelogue, in which she traverses parts of the Silk Road while retracing Xuanzang’s pilgrimage from Chang’an to India, has become a major talking point on Twitter since it was published May 11.

The essay, with stunning photographs of desert sites in Gansu and Xinjiang, cites a host of Chinese poets such as Du Fu, Bai Juyi, Wang Wei and Yu Xin, as well as fiction writers Tung Yueh (The Tower of Myriad Mirrors), Pu Songling (Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio), and the Buddhist pilgrim Xuanzang (The Great Tang Dynasty Record of the Western Regions). Indeed, her piece is entitled A Poetic Journey through Western China.

A major point of controversy: Where are the Uyghurs of today, or yesteryear for that matter? In fact, they were patrons of the famous Dunhuang Grottoes whose murals often feature Uyghur culture and personages, for they were Buddhists (and practioners of Zoroastrianism and Manicheanism) before they converted to Sufi-inspired Sunni Islam.

The word “Uighur” occurs just 8 times in the 5,800-word piece, and they are described as a “minority ethnic group.” The only major reference to them is this: (Today, Xinjiang is the site of hundreds of mass internment camps, where more than a million individuals from China’s Uighur and other Indigenous ethnic groups are being held indefinitely without trial by the government.)

With the exception of Li Bai, Sherman’s main literary reference points appear to be Han writers who have been frequently (and somewhat famously) translated into English. Is this narrative simply the result of her preferences? Due to a lack of translations from other languages along the Silk Road? Or?

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Give-it-a-go Update

By Eric Abrahamsen, May 14, '20

So if you'll recall, Paper Republic partnered up with Leeds University to do a mass co-translation plus online workshop to add a little spice to our current Read Paper Republic series (called "Epidemic").

To everyone's surprise and delight, we got a total of 124 participants from around the world, each giving us their rendering of an essay by Deng Anqing.

We scrambled into technical competence, setting up four Zoom meetings in three different time zones, and leading translation workshops with the goal of producing a readable consensus text. We're still in the process of editing that particular Frankenstein – look for it to be published next Thursday, May 21st – but in the meantime we made a (very) short video about the process, also on Zoom, natch. Enjoy!

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Excuse Me: Confucius said . . . what?

By Bruce Humes, April 23, '20

Ever notice that enigmatic renditions of Chinese text find their way into current China-related news?

In Missing Wuhan citizen journalist reappears after two months, one finds this closing quote:

The human heart is unpredictable, restless. Its affinity to what is right is small. Be discriminating, be uniform so that you may hold fast

Please advise: To which "Confucian" text is the author referring, and is there a better translation out there somewhere?


Paper Republic partners with Leeds Centre for New Chinese Writing: Give-it-a-go literary translation

By Nicky Harman, April 18, '20

What better way to spend lockdown than having a shot at literary translation? You know you always wanted to try it, so why not have a go now? Paper Republic and The Leeds Centre for New Chinese Writing have partnered up to offer an essay by Deng Anqing as a piece for first-time translators. Deadline 30th April 2020, and details here: https://writingchinese.leeds.ac.uk/give-it-a-go-translation/

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