History of Mandarin Chinese Translation

Mandarin Language Translation

In Ancient China the Zhou Dynasty found need of Mandarin Translation due to their relations with foreign states. The next reference to Mandarin Translation is of Early Imperial China in 3 ACE during which there was translation of Buddhist text into Mandarin.

In Later Imperial China, Mandarin to English language started when Christian missionaries from the West came to China. During the same period Lin Zexu a scholar who served the Qing dynasty managed a team of bilingual scholars to get information about social sciences of other countries and Western press news translated to Mandarin for further study. The period after Lin Zexu focused more on translation of information on natural sciences. While in the first half of twentieth century Mandarin translation of various other language literatures were done to satisfy political interests of leaders.

As time passed away the Western World started attracting the attention of Mandarin and from the late nineteenth century the Mandarin Translation started getting support from Government and Institutions. There were several institutions started for learning foreign languages to give a boost for learning different dialect and in return promote translation industry. This further helped China to open up their doors for capturing new markets and learn latest technologies. This further helped the growth of industries in China. Thus the final revolution in Mandarin Translation has helped China become one of the biggest economies in the World.

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Mandarin Language Translation is observed to be in existence from the era of Later Imperial China when foreigners from various western countries who were mainly missionaries entered the country. These foreigners mainly translated Mandarin language so that they could communicate with the locals and preach Christianity along with science and technology. They also used Latin alphabets to denote various Mandarin pronunciations. As a part of Mandarin Language Translation these western missionaries also edited and refined Mandarin to English language dictionaries.

During the Qing dynasty period Robert Morrison a British missionary visited China to preach Christianity. Morrison had done remarkable work in Mandarin Language Translation. Morrison first learnt the Mandarin language thoroughly. Morrison also translated Mandarin classics like Three Character Aphorisms, Analects of Confucius and The Dictionary of Mandarin language of over 2500 pages to English language for the readers from Europe and America. Morrison further started the first Anglo-Mandarin language college that made students easier to learn Mandarin language translation. This was the beginning as there came in more such colleges over years increasing the possibilities of Mandarin language translation as by now the ruling Kings and the people both had understood importance of knowing new languages.

Lu Xun who is considered by some scholars of the literature as the revolutionary who translated Mandarin Classical Language (guan hua) to vernacular language (bai hua). His Mandarin language translation was politically motivated and touched sensitive issues related to China. This aspect of Lu Xun  developed several controversies which some feel was a reason for him being less known in the history of Mandarin Language Translation though he was the first person to make the Mandarin language easier so that it could reach common man.

In the modern times of rocket science technology there are several tools being developed for Mandarin language translation. These computerized tools can be used either in conjunction with manual translation in which the output is almost perfect or close to it. Other wise in case of software solutions that give automated Mandarin translation can only give 50% to 60 % accuracy only. This is mainly because of large-scale ambiguity in this process. There are several online websites that can give online Mandarin language translation that can at least help to get some idea of the Mandarin text if not in full. Looking at the fast speed of technology development it is not far that there will be a time when books of several pages in Mandarin language will be translated to 100% accuracy and that to on a fly.

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Mandarin Translation Services came in existence from Later Imperial China when Mandarin monks started converting Buddhist scripts to Mandarin language. These monks though had less perfection in their translation but had this work done only to teach the principles of Buddhism to Mandarin. The Mandarin translation services were offered by a team of translators, language scholars to check the vocabulary, grammar of both the source language and target language and the scriptwriter. In the period of Western missionaries the translation services provided by them just included a collaborator for reading the text or helping in specific aspect as individuals like Robert Morrison had learned Mandarin themselves for doing translations.

Due to the start of foreign language schools in later part of nineteenth century Mandarin could learn other foreign languages and thus professionals offering Mandarin translation services came into existence. This development in Mandarin history should be marked as big step for further technological and political developments in China.

Though Mandarin translation services were limited to a specific level in Imperial China but with times the conditions changed. With the inclusion of foreign language schools this service sector got a new structure. There were foreign businessmen that hired Mandarin locals for theirs services in order to get information translated and get published in China to increase their businesses. Currently, there are still there are hundreds of companies and individuals in China that provide Mandarin translation services to clients worldwide.

These companies or individuals offer either manual translation or computer automated Mandarin translation services or manual supported with computer assisted translation. Translators who are very competent in both the Mandarin language and the foreign language offer the Mandarin translation services done manually. In this type of services the translation is done word to word or as at the best micro level and so the accuracy is very high. In computer automated Mandarin translation services the work is done by automated computer software.

Due to ambiguity this type of Mandarin translation service gives very low accuracy. While in the third type of manual supported by computer tools translation service the translation is done by phrase to phrase translation over computer with manual inputs. This type of Mandarin translation also gives higher accuracy and its advantage over manual translation is that it saves time.

Apart from knowing the type of translation services one should also know the specialties offered by Mandarin translation service providers, as long with the application the strategy and tone of language offered by the service provider should be different. This can only be so if the party offering Mandarin translation services has knowledge about that specific business e.g. an engineer having language skills can translate technical documents better than a non technical individual.

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