After meeting the Director of the Department of Foreign Languages at NYU recently, I was invited to audit a professional translation workshop class as part of the M.S. in Translation at NYU SCPS. In the past few years of handling various translation projects in my work, I’ve just figured the best way I could become a better translator was simply study more Chinese. I had assumed that as I learned more characters and increased my reading speed and fluidity, I’d just naturally become better at translating into English. It is still true that the occasional unfamiliar character or archaic dense text will slow me down, but through this class I’ve been thinking a lot more about the mechanics and theory behind translation. The professor emphasizes that as a translator, you are a vessel, capturing and expressing the original author’s voice in a different language, without adding your own individual linguistic or tonal flourishes. There is indeed naturally a level of creative flexibility in your output, but if you stray too far from the source text, you aren’t doing your job as a translator. This is a bit frustrating to me, as I am often tempted to let my creative juices run and selectively embellish specific points or slightly massage an argument. It’s been a fun class so far and I’m really looking forward to more this semester.
This short article was assigned as homework this week. There are a few spots in the English I’m still not happy with, but I’m hesitant to edit and stray too far from the source text. Any suggestions welcome.
Chinese New Year’s Worldwide Economic Impact
Chinese New Year may not be an official US holiday, but with the growing influence of Asian cultures in the US, an increasing number of Americans are celebrating. The Chinese New Year is having real effects on business operations and global trade.
According to a report in USA Today, millions of Asian-Americans celebrate the holiday, and a staggering 250 million in China leave their jobs to return home and visit family. These work disruptions bring losses from Latin America to Africa and the Middle East, as well as challenges to American companies.
During the Chinese New Year period, stores from Macy’s and the Container Store will be forced to make adjustments to their product purchasing pipeline. According to statistics from the US Dept. of Commerce, the US trade deficit with China shrinks during the Chinese New Year period. Since 2007, the trade deficit with China has always been at its lowest in the 1st quarter.
China’s trade surplus with the US was $20 billion in January, falling to $15.2 billion in February during the Chinese New Year. To put this in context, the largest sporting event in the US, the Super Bowl, leads to roughly $820 million lost in productivity, far short of the New Year.
Although Asians constitute a small proportion of the US population, they have high income and education levels, and are a fast growing population demographic. With the increasing cultural influence of Asians and Asian Americans, America’s recognition and understanding of Chinese New Year is growing in tandem.