Lingnan launches Master Programme in Chinese-English Translation to groom talents specialised in translating Chinese
The increasing dominance of China in the economic, political, military and technological arenas sees a growing demand for translation between Chinese and English, which would facilitate the flow of first-hand information and knowledge. To address society’s pressing need for grooming talents in translating Chinese into other languages, Lingnan University is launching the Master of Arts in Translation Studies programme, with a focus on the Chinese-English direction, this September.
The Master of Arts in Translation Studies programme is the only master’s programme in Hong Kong with a special focus on Chinese-English translation. It is tailored for those who are proficient in Chinese and English and interested in the study of translation practice and translation research. The Programme will feature small-class teaching to ensure substantial interaction between students and instructors. The Programme will also offer one-to-one supervision for dissertation, which will help in training students’ independent research capabilities, and enable in-depth research discussion with supervisors. The Programme can be taken as either a one-year full-time programme or a two-year part-time programme. Students must complete 30 units of courses to graduate.
Combining theory and practice to nurture all-rounded talents
Dr Wayne Liang, Associate Professor of Translation in Lingnan University, notes that translation is a cross-lingual, cross-cultural discipline. The Programme aims to train not only talents who are conversant with languages but also all-rounded talents. ‘To help students acquire practical translation and critical thinking skills, the Programme comprises both theory and practice components, which extend to cover cross-disciplinary spectrums.’ Dr Liang explains that courses on theories emphasize the academic aspect of translation. Students are intellectually trained to study translation as an academic subject to kindle their interests in further studies. ‘The Programme will offer courses on translation practice covering a wide range of specialised subjects, such as on literature, art, business, law, popular culture, and cultural and creative industries. Students would be able to grasp specific knowledge and vocabularies of the various areas, thereby becoming well- prepared for their future careers.
Dr. Liang believes that professional translators should possess a profound understanding of diverse cultures in addition to excellent bilingual capabilities to render precise, natural translation. ‘Translation is a cultivation of personalities. In order to nurture our students as open-minded persons, the Programme will arrange students to conduct field studies after class, such as visits to museums and architectural heritage sites, so that students from outside Hong Kong can experience the authentic local Hong Kong culture.’
International faculty to enhance students’ research capabilities
Dr Liang highlights the rich teaching experience of the faculty. On top of the current team of two professors, one associate professor, four assistant professors and three senior lecturers, a newly appointed faculty member is coming this August. The team also has an international background, with members coming from the Canada, Mainland, Taiwan, and local Hong Kong, which would add a considerable edge to students’ learning. ‘China, Hong Kong and Taiwan are all Chinese-speaking regions, but the way words and vocabularies are used and deployed can differ substantially. We will teach our students to become conversant with the different usage and language habits of the three regions. The students will be able to confidently handle clients from different regions in their future jobs.’
Dr Liang further highlights the diverse academic background of the faculty members. The faculty members have their own research specialties, such as literature, cross-cultural, and interpreting studies, in addition to their hands-on translation experiences.. These diverse research directions would be brought into their classes and enrich students’ learning.
Edge for paving a broad avenue for careers or studies
Dr Liang points out that the Programme is suitable for undergraduates of not only translation but also other disciplines. Indeed, the different disciplines taken by students during undergraduate and postgraduate studies would complement each other in the learning process. While the Programme primarily focuses on both Chinese and English, Dr Liang highlights that those who use Chinese as their native language or those who have a Chinese language study background would have an advantage.
As for the prospect of graduates, Dr Liang notes that proficiency in bilingualism would mean numerous career options in Hong Kong, a society that attaches great importance to language capabilities. ‘Many translation students believe that they can take up only jobs related to education or publishing when they graduate. In fact, studying translation gives students competitive advantage for working in the media or in public relations as well. While textual tasks form a large part of the work of these sectors, good language capabilities would considerably help relieve the work pressure of their employees.’ Dr Liang also highlights the career opportunities for graduates in the government, finance, sales and marketing, management and legal areas. ‘The mainland has great demand for translation talents, particularly interpreting professionals. Graduates with Chinese-English translation background would have a competitive edge.’ Dr Liang adds that graduates may also choose to further their studies in translation or in other disciplines in local or overseas universities for research in postgraduate or doctorate studies.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and human translators are partners
With the rapid technological development, machine translation and the internet have significantly influenced the translation industry. Indeed, critics often suggest that AI and speech recognition will eventually render the work of both written translation and interpreting obsolete. Dr Liang begs to differ. He believes that humans and computers are in a ‘cordial’ complementary relationship. ‘Building upon the basis of artificial neural networks, scientists are developing a neural network system for machine translation in order to enhance the fluency and accuracy of translation. That said, machine translation systems are still in their developmental stage, and presumably, they cannot altogether replace human beings within the next 10 to 20 years. Even if such development matures, computers will hardly be able to substitute human translators, given our absolute supremacy in critical thinking, creativity, communications, independent thinking and research, among others.’
Finally, Dr Liang says that software for computer-aided translation has become an essential tool for professional in the academia or in the industry. Such software can help enhance translation efficiency and ensure consistency of translated texts. ‘We hope that students and computer-aided translation software can join forces in the translation process to spark up work with enhanced efficiency and quality.’