Practising the Art of Translation

This year’s Bai Meigui Translation Competition, run in conjunction with Leeds University, required students to translate from Chinese to English a children’s picture book by the author and illustrator Meng Yanan, winner of China’s Bronze and Sunflower Picture Book Award. The competition is open to all secondary school students across the globe who are studying Chinese.

It sounds simple enough, but the art of translation is difficult, and students who attempted it, found it harder than they initially thought it would be. As well as translating the story, students were required to write a commentary on their translation, explaining their reasons for any specific choices they made in their translations to adapt it for the needs of an English-language reader.

The story is about a Chinese festival, and commentaries required some cultural explanation, as it a relatively unknown festival in the West. Alongside the national competition, the Chinese department also held its own internal competition.

The standard was extremely high from all the participants, and it was difficult to choose both an overall winner, and runners-up. Rufus Lee-Browne was the overall internal winner. Internal runners-up were Ben Cadell, Rohan Scott, Tyan Lee, and Sophia Mohd Zuhri.

The national competition winner and runners-up will be announced in May.