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Grad Students Hone Chinese Translation Skills in Shanghai
Deng Zhenglai

Grad Students Hone Chinese Translation Skills in Shanghai

Fudan Scholarly Translation Workshop in Shanghai was sponsored by the UCLA Confucius Institute and was designed to teach the general principles of translation and to help students with their graduate research.

Chinese is considered a challenging language to learn even at the most basic level. But 12 American students, including six from UCLA, worked on their Chinese at a highly advanced level by participating in the Fudan Scholarly Translation Workshop which took place in Shanghai from Aug. 3 to 22, 2009.

The workshop was sponsored by the UCLA Confucius Institute and was designed to teach the general principles of translation and to help students with their graduate research. UCLA Professor of Chinese Theodore Huters and Professor Deng Zhenglai, director of the National Institute for Advanced Study on Social Sciences at Fudan University, taught the course.

The American group was very diverse with students working on texts in fields ranging from philosophy to political science. Each student selected a complicated text for translation. For instance, Irena Cronin worked on the translation of classical Chinese Da Dai Liji, a text that documents rituals of the Han Dynasty, while David Hull translated the work of Qian Zhongshu, a 20th-century literary scholar and writer.

They benefited from close collaboration with the 16 Chinese students enrolled in the corresponding English to Chinese course. When students were struggling with a particular passage, they were able to consult one another.

Hull, a UCLA graduate student in Asian Languages and Cultures, thought the most important aspect was "forming new personal and institutional relationships." He added, "These will be absolutely key for moving forward in our grad work, research, dissertations, and professional lives."

Xiaojie Ma, a coordinator at the UCLA Confucius Institute, traveled to Shanghai to facilitate the program. She reported that the dedicated students had little time for anything but work and possibly a quick visit to the Chinese Museum. Hull responded that, at least, they were able to take advantage of Shanghai's bookstores and will return to the United States with "shelffuls of books and films".
 
He adds that the workshop was "an unqualified success."