Perceptions of translating/interpreting in first-century China

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This article analyzes evidence of translating and interpreting activities (indiscriminately referred to as yi, which also denotes translators or interpreters in classical Chinese) in first-century China between the Latter Han (25–220 AD) Chinese administration and non-Han Chinese minority tribes along the then Southwestern frontier (modern Yunnan and Sichuan provinces). The importance of this archival record to the historical study of translation and interpreting is two-fold. First, it contains crucial details pertinent to translating and interpreting activities in China in antiquity. Second, it documents concepts of yi synchronically, as perceived by three main participants in the interpreting events: the emperor, the frontier inspector, and the frontier clerk cum interpreter. The presentation of what they actually wrote, said, and did in the first-century interpreting setting in China, with close reference to standard histories, objectively depicts the meanings of yi as perceived by these figures at the time.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-136
Number of pages18
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2009

Bibliographical note

Reprinted in Interpreting Chinese, Interpreting China, Robin Setton (ed.), Benjamins Current Topics 29, 2011, 11-28.


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