- A Topical Bibliography of Translation and Interpretation: Chinese-English, English-Chinese
This is a quaint exercise. In an age of widespread word processing and universally accessible downloadable databases with search-and-find capabilities, a bibliography of published works dealing with translation divided up into topical categories strikes one as being both too much and not enough. With over fifteen thousand items in more than eight hundred pages in Chan Sin-wai's A Topical Bibliography of Translation and Interpretation: Chinese-English, English-Chinese, certainly there are more citations on translation than anyone would care to read. Yet, presented in this paginated form, which allows for neither revision nor addition, this effort is frozen in time, and encompasses only items up to the year 1995. One wishes it were on-line, because then one would not have to depend on the compiler's often capricious categorizations. The strength of this resource is that it provides significant bibliographies on such discrete topics as dubbing, consecutive interpreting, onomatopoetic words, and subtitling. But other topics seem either so vague as to be ungraspable—such as "Comprehension," "Meaning," and "Culture"—or so particular as to be trivial—such as "Accreditation Examination" (the first topic in the book), "Consultation in Translation," and "Units of Translation." (How, for example, could one definitively distinguish an entry on "comprehension" from another on "meaning"?) The choice of topics is, of course, inevitably systematic. However, but for the requirements of the layout of the book, and the alphabetical organization of topics, a topical arrangement would be unnecessary if it were in database form. In a database, users would choose their own topics ("keywords") [End Page 396] and perform, much more efficiently, a search function that would identify all items of interest.
Still, it is an interesting experience to pore over the scholarship on translation that has emerged, mostly in the last generation. What is clear is that translation is no longer a marginal field, nor even a subfield; indeed, it can claim many substantial subfields of its own. What is needed is a typology of translation studies: from the anecdotal, philological, and schematic to the analytical, linguistic, and theoretical. Perhaps a two-dimensional matrix might be introduced, one that comprises micro-studies of specific problems, textual, verbal, and lexical, to macro-studies of general issues, theoretical, generic, and ideological.
There are some puzzling anomalies in this compilation. First of all, although it professes to focus on Chinese-English/English-Chinese translation, there are items that relate not at all to either Chinese or English. There are items that concern translations between two languages, neither of which is English or Chinese. Then, there are subcategories that make no sense—for example, "Language Pairs" (under "Machine Translation"), which comprises still another subcategory, "Chinese," in which one finds all of two items. To illustrate the absurdity of some of the categorizations, take Achilles Fang's "Some Reflections on the Difficulty of Translation," which was published in three places: American Anthropologist (1953 ), Reuben Brower's collection On Translation (1959), and Arthur Wright's compilation Studies in Chinese Thought (1953)—yet the first two citations are listed under the category "Problems of Translation" and the third is included under "Culture." It would be difficult to divine by what intellectual legerdemain two published versions of the same article would be relevant, but not a third.
And there are strange omissions: Li Chi-peng's (Li Qipeng) Falümingtzu tzutien (Dictionary of legal terms: English-Chinese) (Taipei: Wuchou Chupan She, minkuo 65 ) is nowhere to be found, not even under "Legal Translation." Nor is there mention of I. A. Richards' remarkable Mencius on the Mind, first published in 1932 and recently reprinted in 1997, although his 1938 book Interpretation and Teaching and his 1953 piece in the American Anthropologist, "Toward a Theory of Translation," are included. Four items by Gregory Rabassa are cited in five mentions, but not his 1974 American Scholar article "If This Be...