Tag Archives: Professional translators

World Renowned Translator Dies at 94

It’s easy to forget what an important role professional translators have in the history of language. Sharing stories and literary works between different cultures would not be possible without them, and we’d therefore miss out on many important pieces of global history. Some of the most widely read stories in the United States are actually translations made by dedicated literary translators. One such translator was Zheng Younghui, who passed away at 94-years-old this week. He was considered the translator with the largest number of readers simply because he translated so many works in his lifetime.

Youghui’s Studies Went Beyond Language

Perhaps one of the reasons Zheng Younghui was such a comprehensive literary translator was that he was not only focused on language throughout his life. When translating literary works, the words on the page are not the only thing that’s important. Idioms and cultural contexts must also be taken into account, so a wide range of knowledge is preferable for professional translation. Younghui was born in Vietnam in 1918 and studied law for the first half of his education. He then went on to teach French until he was 80-years-old.


Some of the World’s Most Famous Pieces were Translated by Younghui

Zheng Younghui completed his first translation in 1933 and went on to translate some of the world’s most celebrated literary works. Some of his most notable translations included Quatre-Vingt-Treize by Hugo, Nana by Zolaesque and Salammbo by Flaubert. These were taken from French and turned into a Chinese translation. In addition to translating French works into Chinese, Younghui also corrected other Chinese translations. He found more than fifty mistakes in the most popular Chinese translation of Merimee’s Columba at the time, and he marked them down for correction.

If it weren’t for Younghui, many people that can only speak Chinese would not be able to experience some of the most famous French literary masterpieces. While technology is considered a valuable resource for some translations, it will never replace the value of translation services by a live human being. Computers will never be able to understand certain innuendoes and subtleties that stretch across different languages, so masters like Zheng Younghui should never be replaced. If you need any translations for your business or company, you should seriously consider hiring a translator instead of relying on services such as Google translate. It could save you from making grave errors and offending clients.


Journal Translation Gives Unmatched Insight into American History

Many of the earliest accounts of North America are not in English because explorers from around the globe documented them. Back then, these explorers had very few resources with which to record their findings, so the chances of even uncovering these journals is highly unlikely. However, The North American Journals of Prince Maximillian of Wied, from Germany have been discovered and the final volume has just been translated. Professional translators have been meticulously chipping away at the third and final volume for years now. The other two volumes have already been released, and in 2008 the first was named the Outstanding Nonfiction Book of the Year.

Journal is One of the Most Comprehensive Depictions of Native Americans

Prince Alexander Phillip Maximillian was an explorer, an ethnologist, and a naturalist. Therefore, he knew exactly what to look for in his exploration of Native American culture. He traveled deep into the interior of North America, which at the time was largely unexplored. In the journal, he described the Native peoples, the topography of the country, the natural history he saw at the time and the inner workings of the fur trade in the High Plains. The technical translation of the series of journals into English is invaluable to North American historians. They provide a clear window into what North America was like in 1832 from an outsiders’ perspective.

Original Illustrations Accompany the Translations

The translations of Prince Alexander Phillip Maximillian’s journals also contain all of the original notes, annotations and asides that he included in his own writing. In addition to these notes, the translation service also took the time to   redo the illustrations by Maximillian’s travel companion, Karl Bodmer. During the journey, Bodmer made more than 350 watercolor illustrations of what the pair was seeing. The images are compelling, and the translated volumes of the journals contain enhanced depictions of these drawings, which make them even more valuable to history.

Sometimes, the importance of translation goes beyond a general understanding of someone from another culture. Business, literary and legal translations are all certainly important in the modern world, but translations such as that of these journals give anthropologist an entirely new set of information to work with. Knowing the history of the world gives us a better understand of the future. The translation goes beyond modern convenience and is more a cultural necessity to understanding the foundations and history of North America.