The China Post: Translation, Norms, and Beyond
蘇波安 (Gregory Thorpe)
I was very fortunate to be selected for the internship at the China Post, acquiring and honing several skills which I had not considered before. Work at their sleek, new offices in Taipei’s Neihu District (內湖區) was not only confined to translating news articles– there were also opportunities to travel to Zhunan (竹南) to work as a field journalist for a weekend, as well as write my own articles to be featured in the magazine Discover Taiwan. Daily translated news articles were posted online either on The China Post or NOWNews websites.
First and foremost, the issue of text formatting was unique to news article design and also to the company I worked with, as every news agency has a distinct style when writing articles. For example, special attention must be paid to the writing of dates (e.g. “Aug. 20”, and not “August 20th”) and transliteration of Chinese names into the Latin alphabet (in this case, using the Wade-Giles style).
Secondly, I found that while interning at the news agency, the omission of text from the source text was quite common. It was entirely the translator’s decision when to exclude a certain phrase into the target text. This led me to believe that such omissions are done more liberally in news translation compared to other text types. The reason, in my opinion, is because translation is not necessarily focused on a word-for-word basis, nor on individual sentences, but by looking at the paragraph as a whole. The number of paragraphs is the basic measurement of text length in news articles, since relevant images and accompanying captions are inserted between paragraphs. A second reason for text omission was mentioned by one of my supervisors, Mr. Dimitri Bruyas. He encouraged us to find the repetitive details so ubiquitous within Chinese news articles, then simplify or omit them in the English versions. In essence, there is a great degree of reorganizing and rewriting when translating news.
Apart from the daily responsibilities at the office, I was fortunate enough to write my own report on two different stories. On the weekend of August 31st and September 1st, I was sent to the small township of Zhunan to participate in two separate events and write about my experience there. That Saturday, I spent the night at a 15-year-old surf school called “Spot”, and its adjacent restaurant, “Super Duper”. The owner, a Taiwanese man named Tony Fish, kindly offered to teach me how to windsurf, but I took a surfing class instead, due to the lack of wind that day. In the evening, there was a small concert and buffet held for the incoming BMX sports team from Taichung.
The next day (Sunday), I was picked up from the surf shop at 6:30am by Cloud Chen (陳金龍), one of the organizers of the newly revived Matsu pilgrimage in the township. Shadowing Mr. Chen and the photographers throughout the entire day, I witnessed and interviewed several individuals about this lively activity snaking along the winding roads of the township. We visited most of the 53 Matsu temples spread throughout the town. By nightfall, I had interviewed the township chief and one of the head members of Cihyu Temple (慈裕宮), one of the oldest Taoist temples in Taiwan.
Working with such an open, approachable group of interns and supervisors was a great first experience as a translation intern. Ms. Lesley Lin (林純玉女士) and Mr. Dimitri Bruyas (龔向華總編) were excellent mentors, always willing to aid us with finding online sources and writing creatively. Our weekly meetings on Fridays were also effective forums for conjuring ideas to improve the agency’s online presence and outreach. Special thanks to Dr. Szu-Wen Kung (孔思文老師) for providing this internship. Additionally, the tasks she assigned during her two first-year courses, Chinese-English Translation (中譯英) and Contrastive Analysis and Translation (中英對比與翻譯), were of great help in preparing me for this experience. I look forward to new opportunities in the future!