The Humanized Study of a Great Interpreter: Tseng-Tsiang Lou/Dom Pierre-Célestin as Premier/Priest and His Contributions to Interpretation

Lung Jan Andy CHAN

Research output: Other Conference ContributionsConference Paper (other)Other Conference Paperpeer-review


In the Bible, Proverbs 18:21 reads “Death and life are in the gift of the tongue, those who indulge it must eat the fruit it yields.” Tseng-Tsiang Lou (TTL, 陸徵祥, 1871-1949) was a man of many tongues and was fruitful in many different fields. He was an important historic figure in the late Qing dynasty and in early Republican China. The many roles he played include but not limited to were: a Chinese diplomat to Holland, Russia and Switzerland; twice Premier of the Republic of China; and head delegate to the 1919 Paris Peace Conference.

Raised as a Protestant, he went to the School of Foreign Language in Shanghai and later attended the school for interpreters. He became well versed in Chinese, French and Russian and married Berthe-Françoise-Eugénie Bovy, the daughter of a Belgian diplomat. In 1927, after the death of his wife, he studied to become a postulant under the name Dom PierreCélestin and was ordained in 1935. Quite obviously, TTL has contributed significantly to two important fields in the history of interpreting: diplomacy and religion.

Based on the principles for a progressive and subjective study of translators as postulated by Pym (2009), this paper attempts to conduct a humanized study of TTL, including his interpreting work and the related actor network in the making of this great diplomat-priest interpreter. The materials to be scrutinized include a Chinese biography written by Shi Jianguo (1999), TTL’s autobiography (Ways of Confucius and of Christ, 1948) and the archives in the library of the Holy Spirit Seminary College of Theology and Philosophy (聖神修院神哲學院) in Hong Kong. This study aims to highlight the multi-discursive involvement, complex cultural allegiances and physical mobility of TTL as a diplomat-politician-priest interpreter against the backdrop of the fierce power struggle in early Republican China and delicate international politics in the first half of the twentieth century.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017
Event1st Hong Kong Baptist University International Conference on Interpreting: History of Interpreting - Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Duration: 9 Mar 201710 Mar 2017


Conference1st Hong Kong Baptist University International Conference on Interpreting
Country/TerritoryHong Kong
CityHong Kong
Internet address


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