December 2011

Highlights from the December 2011 issue of EO's Book Review:

Why "Seal of God" is a Bad Translation
By Ye Lei(叶磊)
Page 3-5
Original Text:

A review of a book by an experienced Taiwanese translator and essayist.

The Basic Knowledge of Translation (翻译的基本知识)
by Qian Gechuan (钱歌川)
World Publishing Corporation, Aug 2011

While browsing in the bookstore recently, I came across a the book called The Basic Knowledge of Translation (翻译的基本知识) by a Prof. Qian Gechuan (钱歌川), I found it a very interesting read.
Mr. Qian was an essayist, translator and English language scholar from Taiwan who published a large number of books on teaching English before he passed away in 1990.  
The first part of Professor Qian's book covers the basic knowledge and principles of translation, while the second part gives specific examples of some English to Chinese and Chinese to English translations. In one example, the author addresses the challenge of translating the English term “lamb of God” into any of languages in the Eskimo–Aleut language family. There is no word "lamb" in these languages and the term has often been translated it as "seal of God." Though Prof. Qian doesn't think that this translation is a good one, the reviewer is not convinced that it's all that bad.
The review finishes on a positive note, recommending the work as an easy and fun read.

Why I Wrote "Labourer"
By Yu Zejun (于泽俊)
Page 9-10
Original Text:

An author explains what motivated him to write a book about China's working class.

Labourer (工人)
By Yu Zejun (于泽俊)
Culture and Art Publishing House, July 2007

… Actually,the working class not only didn‘t take the leading role in China’s revolution, the role that it did play was very small. Looking at the history of the Chinese revolution, what kind of important role did the working class play? There are no significant events to be found …
Therefore, to be more exact, the working class has never been the leading class, they have always been led …
Regardless of whether the working class has been leading class or not, after liberation the status of the working class has indeed improved a lot. Compared to most farmers, they lived a better life with free medical care and pensions,they were respected as laborers.  
However, with the unfolding of reform and opening up (改革开放), the status of the working class has started to drop again day by day. Labour is honorable is no longer a mainstream concept that's actively promoted by the society. The laborers are no longer a group which are respected by the society, once again, they've gone down to the very bottom.
These days, every year there are tens of millions of farmers who leave their own place and go to the city, they are just like China’s first generation of workers who went to the city in search of work, they are forming the main part of the working class. But in concept, they are still not being recognized as the working class. Instead, this group of people bear a title ripe with negative connotations: migrant workers (农民工).
In fact,weren’t the working class at the very beginning migrant workers too? The history of China’s working class is only a few generations, when we trace it back we find that they were all originally displaced farmers, that they were all at some stage migrant workers. But in today’s concept, it seems only those workers who work in large state-owned enterprises (SOEs) are counted as the working class, and for others who work in privately-owned enterprises, foreign companies and work as contract-labor in SOEs, it seems they do not qualify for the title of being working class. I don’t understand why these workers are not been recognized as members of the working class.
But regardless of whether you recognized them or not, […] these migrant workers are indeed make up the bulk of the existing working class. If we take these people into account, then we can see that the size of the working class has grown significantly from the two million that existed at the start of the last century.
It's a strange paradox that the two million of that era were given so much praise, but this larger grouping today who are rapidly developing into a major social group, are ignored. It seems this enormous class with hundreds of million people is of little importance to broader society. Those who currently occupy centre stage are the wealthy elites, while the working class are relegated to the role of being an audience, watching the others perform.
Workers have created and continue to create enormous wealth for our society. But what has society given them back in return?

After reform and opening up was launched, farmers benefited, some of them got rich first, intellectuals also saw their positions reversed, with an upheaval of their economic and social status. But what has the working class gained? The main vocabulary related to workers are laid-off (下岗), re-employment (再就业), unpaid wages (拖欠工资) and compensated termination of labor relations also known as buy-outs (买断). Are there any other words that we frequently use in relation to workers?

Some managers of listed companies are already getting annual salaries in the tens of millions of yuan, while ordinary workers may only get a total of 20,000 or 30,000 yuan when they are bought out. I don’t try to oppose those who have made contributions to society and got paid so much, but I want to ask, are those who are paid tens of millions yuan really the elites of the society? Have they really created that much of wealth for the society?
From the perspective of the history, China’s workers are still a growing class, we can no loner ignore the existence of these hundreds of millions of people. Solving their problems is a significant challenge confronting all of us. The issue will ultimately decide the success (or failure) of China’s reform and opening up.
After I finishing writing the book Labourer, I once discussed this issue with a senior economist. Unfortunately, my concern was right. At present, the issue of whether we dare to recognize that migrant workers are indeed workers and urban residents. If we don’t admit this, we can avoid the responsibilities on both sides: in rural areas, given that much of the population has already left, the local governments no longer have the burden of looking after them; in the city, as they are not legal residents, the challenges of providing medical care, employment, housing and education can all be ignored. Who asked them to come to the city?
Migrant workers might shift between cities and rural areas like the characters described in the novel. But once they cut off their connection with the land, then they cannot return to the fields. In this case, if their problems are not solved completely, then the potential for a huge social crisis emerges
I was born in a family of workers. My father was a worker, me and my brothers and sisters (six of us in all) used to be workers.

Workers have contributed a lot to our country, after the reform and opening up, they also made a huge contribution to the country in a different sense, many of them bore the huge cost of reform and opening up by losing their jobs.
Although they are only ordinary workers, they also have their own emotions. Once I think of them, I have a sense of unease at the bottom of my heart. I always feel I own them something. So I want to write this book, a biography for them. I wrote about them, not only to reflect their lives, but also their thoughts about life.
This is my original intention for writing Labourer.
My Book Shelf - Editor Wang Xiaodi
[Share Books]
By Wang Xiaodi (王小笛)
Page 46-48
Original Text:

An editor with a domestic publishing house shares some of her favorite books with EO's Book Review

400 Years of Japanese Business (日本商业四百年)
By Chen Wei (陈伟)
Jinghua Publishing House, Apr 2011
[…] a status of a country and a society always goes with its history. This book is the first and the only work about the history of Japanese business published in China.  
The book traces the development of four big Japanese zaibatsu (business groups) against the broader background of the economic rise of Japan.
These four business groups control the fate of Japan’s economy. Their founders and owners all came from backgrounds that had little connection to royalty or government. Even though they maintained some connections with the government and those in power at different stages, they didn't lose their independence or become subordinate to government.

You can download a copy of the December 2011 issue of the EO's Book Review here.

Links and Sources
EO's Book Review: Official Site
Douban: EO\'s Book Review
Economic Observer: November Issue of EO\'s Book Review
Economic Observer: October Issue of EO\'s Book Review

Related Stories


Comments(The views posted belong to the commentator, not representative of the EO)

username: Quick log-in

EO Digital Products

Multimedia & Interactive