This new Riptide blog has been created by MA Publishing students at the University of Exeter, who have been working as part of the Riptide editorial and marketing teams. This post has been written by Hannah Collins.
If you’ve read our previous posts here on the Riptide blog, then you’ll know that Volume 14 of the journal has officially been launched! The launch event was a huge success and if you haven’t managed to read all about it, do go and check it out here.
However, the conversations around our new ‘Collisions’ issue continue. Over the last few weeks we’ve released three special edition podcasts which share stories from Riptide 14 in Mandarin. We couldn’t be more excited about this new adventure for Riptide which moves our stories across languages. For this post, we therefore wanted to share an interview with Leah Bird who has produced these special edition podcasts and project managed the process of translating the stories from English to Mandarin. The translators themselves, Dorcas Huang, Qincheng Li, and Xie Ting, also share their own insights as part of this dialogue.
How did you get involved with this translation process and why was Mandarin chosen as Riptide’s first venture into publishing across languages?
Leah: Our course convenor, Dr Kate Wallis, actually reached out to me about it, She knew that I had a history of beginners Mandarin and a personal interest in the language; I am currently doing my work placement at a publisher of East Asian texts. As far as I’m aware, students on University of Exeter’s Translation Studies had expressed interest in translating three Riptide stories as part of one of their module assessments and that’s when Kate asked if I’d be interested in leading this.
Could you tell us a bit more about how you went about selecting the stories to be translated? How did you narrow this down to just three stories from such a rich collection?
Leah: You’re definitely right that there was a rich collection, which made the process somewhat difficult! I began by researching the genres that are currently popular in Mandarin texts and used that to narrow down the list of stories to a smaller selection. From that, I chose stories which I knew were popular among the MA Publishing cohort and had particularly strong writing. I then shared my top three recommendations along with two other stories that almost made the cut for consideration and confirmation with our editors, Sally Flint and Virginia Baily.
Where are you currently with the translation process and how has it been working with the MA Translation Studies programme to produce these texts?
Leah: So far, we have got the written translations done and are currently working on getting the audio versions up and running. It has been interesting to see how much I am able to help and provide guidance; given that I can’t speak Mandarin, there has still been plenty for me to do! They have also had some interesting questions about the meaning and tone of the texts which has allowed me to reconsider the original texts even after months of working on them.
What do you think are the benefits of translating these stories into Mandarin?
Leah: We hope translating these stories into Mandarin will open Riptide up to new audiences around the world. It could also represent the beginning of Riptide expanding beyond English and lead to more translations in the future!
How have you managed to balance keeping the stories true to their original form but also ensuring that that are translated accurately into Mandarin?
Translation Team: For these stories, it hasn’t been a very tough task to keep the authenticity of the original text as well as ensuring it’s accurate in Mandarin. The stories themselves aren’t very complicated. In addition, as a native speaker, it comes very easily to find the right Chinese expressions. However, as for other texts, I believe human emotions and feelings are common and are only limited by languages. As long as we can truly understand and respect the source text, we can succeed to maintain the balance.
Leah: The MA Translation Studies students have had their work checked by a supervisor for quality and I have shared guidance notes on tone and style, as well as explaining what’s most powerful about the stories and how there are themes which are important to focus on with the translations. I have also answered their questions on the meanings of English phrases that don’t translate well into Mandarin to keep the translation as true to the original as possible!
As Translators, how have you found the process and what has been the most difficult aspect?
Translation Team: The translation process has been enjoyable because the stories themselves are so readable, interesting and quite calming. The most difficult aspect of the translation is to remain loyal to the source text, not only in terms of the words but also the modes of expression. It has been challenging to balance the emotion between the words and the hidden meaning and to deliver them in a way that the target audiences can easily receive.
How did the authors react when they found out their stories were going to be translated into Mandarin?
Leah: They all reacted really positively and responded promptly when we contacted them about it! Doreen Anyango, author of ‘What He Knew for Sure’ said ‘It would be an honour’ and Carolyn Stockdale said she would ‘be delighted and thrilled for ‘Starlight’ to be translated into Mandarin’!
What has been the most challenging part of this process, and what has been the most rewarding aspect?
Leah: The most challenging has definitely been liaising with the translators and Kate as we all have personal deadlines outside of Riptide so being in communication only by email leads to some delays on all our parts. However, the most rewarding aspect has been seeing it all come together and feeling like I’ve made an impact!
Do you think Riptide will undertake further translations in the future and what other languages could be beneficial in terms of translation?
Leah: I certainly hope so! I think that given Riptide’s ethos of wanting to share the stories to a wide audience, it would be beneficial and make sense for them. In terms of other languages, I think any languages that the University of Exeter works with through the MA Translation Studies programme would be great as this allows for further collaboration between Riptide and the university. Maybe someone working with Riptide in the future will end up in a similar situation to me with another language!
Thank you so much to Leah and the Translation Team for sharing these insights with us. If you’d like to listen to or share the Special Episode:
Mandarin Translation Series podcasts, please listen here on Spotify: