China Daily Europe has a feature on literary translation from Chinese to English, focusing in particular on Nicky Harman, translator of poet Han Dong 韩东 and others.
Harman, who specializes in fiction, nonfiction and poetry, began learning Chinese in 1968 and previously taught translation at Imperial College London.
“At the start, my reasons for learning Chinese were superficial. I was fascinated with the culture and the great geographical region, as well as the people and the language,” she says. “Everything was different from the West.”
Equally challenging are Han’s novels and poetry, she says, as he uses beautiful words so they needed to be translated beautifully.
“As a translator I need to be a chameleon,” she tells Chinese students at the London workshop.
Translators need to be paid, and because the job often requires lots of time, especially turning Chinese works into English, Harman says many have to do part-time jobs.
“They need money to buy food, to pay rent and bring up their children,” she says, explaining that few people can afford to work as translators full time.
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