China has made new advances in minority language protection, as more than 100,000 professionals and amateurs are now translating between Mandarin Chinese and minority languages.
“Compared with the past, China’s minority language work has entered a new stage,” said Wu Shuizi, head of the China Minority Translation Bureau, at a four-day international translation congress here on Tuesday.
Figures from the bureau show that the country has 37 publication houses for minority languages, accounting for 6.6 percent of the total. The bureau alone has published more than 2,000 such books in the past 30 years.
Wu said the country had taken various measures to ensure minority people’s rights to use their own languages, including setting up associations at the central, provincial and county levels to improve their language system, especially for groups with no written languages.
The associations are also responsible for getting minority language studies included in the education system from primary school to college.
China has some 30 million minority people using their own languages. More than 90 percent of ethnic Tibetans use their native language in daily life and work.
Statistics show that in Tibet, some 1,000 people are now professional Mandarin-Tibetan translators who handle more than 50 million words every year. The local governments and other organizations provide bilingual documents and even simultaneous interpretation in their meetings.
“The translation team is continuously expanding, and their abilities and translating methods are also progressing. Translation really plays a significant part in the province’s full-scale development,” said Lobsang, vice director of the Tibet Translation Bureau.
According to the bureau, more than 300 textbooks and other study aids, covering 16 subjects from primary to middle schools, have been translated into Tibetan.
In addition, the Tibetan version of Rabindranath Tagore’s poems and the Arabian Nights — among other foreign masterpieces — are also available for local readers, along with China’s ancient classics such as Outlaws of the Marsh and Journey to the West.
Meanwhile, many Tibetan-language websites have witnessed the progress in modern technology.
“The country has long featured co-existing multiple nationalities and languages, and that requires minority language protection to be a major aspect of our nationality work,” said Wu, adding that translation was an effective method of passing on and promoting minority cultures.
The meeting here attracted participants from 70 countries and regions. It was the first time the World Congress of the International Federation of Translators met in Asia since its founding in 1953.