In 2012, Chinese writer Mo Yan won the Nobel Prize in Literature, and his works have since been translated into at least 40 languages with more than 200 versions read worldwide. In 2020, online Chinese literary works attracted more than 83 million overseas readers, a 160.4-percent increase year on year. Chinese literary works have become an important window for foreigners to understand Chinese culture. Translators, as messengers of cultural exchange between China and foreign countries, have played an important role.
"Translation is understanding and making others understand," said translator and professor Yu Zhongxian during a recent interview he gave to China Pictorial (CP). "I operate a ferry, a bridge between two shores empowering Chinese readers to gain richer knowledge of other countries."
"Mandarin Chinese is appallingly difficult to learn!" Albanian sinologist Iljaz Spahiu waved his hands and couldn't help bursting into laughter when recalling his first Chinese course. In 1974, when he was only 19, Spahiu set out from Tirana, capital of Albania, and flew across the Eurasian continent to Beijing. He enrolled in a Chinese class at Beijing Language Institute (now Beijing Language and Culture University). After more than a year of studying there, he went to Peking University for a program on Chinese studies.
At the very first sight, few understand the grave lexicography of the Chinese character"𡈙(yóu)." But Mark Leenhouts is quite familiar with how the pictograph depicting a "a caged bird" on his WeChat profile vividly captures the nature of the translation profession—"a decoy bird."