Chinese-English collaborations 2019

TransCollaborate’s activities this year have brought us into contact with Melbourne’s many Chinese communities, including both migrant and international-student cohorts. We have found many ways to connect with these communities through collaborative translation.

Classroom collaborations

EAL students of the Australian Technical Management College in Melbourne Australia recently undertook collaborative translation with their trainer. The source texts are taken from a Chinese textbook featuring texts of 300+ words on a range of general topics. 

Translation 1

23/05/2019

The first text to be translated covered the story of the historic satellite link between Shanghai and Toronto, Canada on the night of the new millennium, January 1st 2001.

You can find the translation here.

Translation 2

13/06/2019

The next text was a magazine article about the Chinese lottery. The article investigates people’s expectations of winning the lottery, and what they would intend if they actually won.

You can find the translation here.

Translation 3

27/06/2019

This text is an anecdote told by a father about attending a parent-teacher interview at his son’s school. From a cultural perspective, it is interesting to note that the father’s irreverent response to the rather strict attitude of the school skewers the many of the myths we may hold about parental expectations of student academic performance.

The translation itself was highly accurate in meaning, but it departed significantly from the semantic structure of the original text. This could be a sign that the collaboration has grown in confidence from its first attempts.

You can find the translation here.

Method and outcomes

The collaborations take place between a class of pre-intermediate students, all Chinese speakers, and their trainer, a native-English speaker. The translations take just under 90 minutes. The process is usually energetic, and it clearly activates the students, who otherwise may struggle to express themselves in the classroom. The translation offers multiple opportunities to teach and illustrate grammar and vocabulary. It also offers opportunities for cultural exchange, where collaborators can describe cultural practices of different times and places.

The feedback from these activities is positive, with all participants requesting copies of the completed translations, and with some asking if the exercise could be repeated in future classes.

This collaboration has confirmed or supported the following insights for TransCollaborate:

  • That collaborations with pre-intermediate students are possible, if the source text is sufficiently simple in grammar and vocabulary.
  • That collaborative translation is an excellent classroom activity for monolingual learner groups, as it productively integrates a range of language skills.
  • That an experienced target collaborator can collaboratively translate a text of around 300-400 words in a 90-minute session.

*****

Marco Polo workshops

08/05/2019

One of our closest partners, the Marco Polo project, has been facilitating weekly language exchange workshops since 2011. These workshops match Chinese-English bilinguals, including international students and native English learners of Chinese, to translate prose texts from Chinese into English. We have been given the opportunity to run our own Marco Polo workshops, applying our own unique methodology.

Following in the spirit of our previous Emerging Writers Festival workshop, our Marco Polo workshops translate the “Ci” of Su Dong Po. Our workshops involve the participation of several “target collaborators” with little-to-no experience with Chinese, but who have experience in translating creative texts in various contexts. Each target collaborator facilitates a small group to translate a Ci, marshaling input from collaborators with different language backgrounds and creative skills.

One group’s translation can be found here.

*****

Emerging Writers’ Festival 2018

On a cold, bright Melbourne morning, a motley crew of logophiles and poetry buffs gathered at the State Library Victoria to translate a 900-year-old Chinese ci. 

The sold-out workshop, organised in concert with the Emerging Writers’ Festival and Monash University, saw participants collaborating in small groups to tackle the translation of a ci-poem by Song-dynasty poet Li Qingzhao, one of the greatest female poets in Chinese history.

The 3-hour workshop began with a series of short introductions by the event organisers, each of whom provided insight and context on a particular aspect of the collaborative translation process.

EWF_02

Literary translator, Cordite editor and Monash University lecturer Alice Whitmore kicked things off with an overview of some of the most significant theoretical approaches to poetry translation, drawing on the creative, symphonic philosophies espoused by great twentieth century poet-translators like Octavio Paz and Ezra Pound.

Poetry translator Julia Min gave an enthralling explanation of the historical context, exquisite form and symbolic complexity of ci poetry, and shed some light on the collective translation process that yielded her 1989 translations of Li Qingzhao’s poems. Julia read three carefully selected ci-poems, spanning the breath of Li Qingzhao’s life, and groups were asked to choose one for translation.

Finally, Transcollaborate President Jessica Griffiths outlined how the morning would unfold: working at tables of 3 to 4, and armed with a colourful pile of art supplies, groups would have 2 hours to come up with a collaborative translation of one of Li Qingzhao’s poems. The final draft would be presented on a single sheet of A5 paper for later compilation into a Transcollaborate zine.

EWF_04.JPG

The workshop yielded five fantastic and remarkably original poems—experimental forms, concept poetry, illustration and back-translation all featured in the final products, making for a truly diverse collection of collaboratively-crafted masterpieces.

All in all, a fun and creative morning. Stay tuned for more events like this! And click here to see more photos from this event.

 

TransCollaborate Inc: now a not-for-profit organisation!

On April 13 2018, TransCollaborate incorporated to become a not-for-profit organisation. Based in Melbourne, Australia, we will be offering a range of opportunities for you to get involved in collaborative translation activities.  These will include Melbourne-based events, as well as online programs for our members based overseas. If you are keen to sign up for membership, get in touch!

We are excited to be starting this new stage of development, and we will update the website as soon as possible with details of our new committee and our opening initiatives. Watch this space…