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.


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