This monograph examines interpreters in early imperial China and their roles in the making of archival records about foreign countries and peoples. It covers ten empirical studies on historical interpreting and discusses a range of issues, such as interpreters' identities, ethics, non-mediating tasks, status, and relations with their patrons and other people they worked with. These findings are based on critical readings of primary and secondary sources, which have rarely been utilized and analyzed in depth even in translation research published in Chinese.Although this is a book about China, the interpreters documented are, surprisingly, mostly foreigners, not Chinese. Cases in point are the enterprising Tuyuhun and Sogdian interpreters. In fact, some Sogdians were recruited as China's translation officials, while many others were hired as linguistic and trading agents in mediation between Chinese and Turkic-speaking peoples. These idiosyncrasies in the use of interpreters give rise to further questions, such as patterns in China's provision of foreign interpreters for its diplomatic exchanges and associated loyalty concerns. This book should be of interest not only to researchers in Translation and Interpreting Studies, but also to scholars and students in ancient Chinese history and Sinology in general.
1. Preface; 2. Introduction; 3. Acknowledgments; 4. Chronology; 5. 1. Perceptions of translating/interpreting in first-century China; 6. 2. Bridging language barriers in encounters with China in sixth-century Asia; 7. 3. Turkish diplomatic correspondence to Sui China (581-618): Was it translated?; 8. 4. Translation officials in Tang China (618-907); 9. 5. Interpreters and archival records of foreign contacts of imperial China; 10. 6. Interpreters and the writing of histories about interlingual encounters; 11. 7. Interpreters as consultants in historiography in eighth-century China; 12. 8. Interpreters and the making of the Kirghiz Memoir and Kirghiz accounts; 13. 9. Oral translators in outbound diplomatic correspondence; 14. 10. Sogdian interpreters in Tang China: An issue of loyalty; 15. Conclusion; 16. Appendix. The thirteen letters and the two exceptions; 17. Bibliographies; 18. Index