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Likewise, to this day, even with China rising, Western media remain virtually Chinese-free, and this isn't even a metaphor.|
In the age of conquest, Europeans could make a colored man and his livelihood disappear — and get away with it. They could also omit — or shall we say erase — any of his words, or simply substitute a European term for it.
Even today the shrewd and narrow-minded — especially the academics — still get away with (European) biblical or philosophical translations of Chinese key terms all the time.
I ask, is such practice really necessary, ethical or even legal anymore in this 21st century of knowledge, information, and intellectual property rights? Can we really disown, say, Japanese sake and sushi any way we want, perhaps calling them "rice wine and fish" even though sake and sushi are their names?
Let there be tens of thousands of Eastern key words filling our European imaginations to the brim.
It will give us plenty of opportunity to finally learn something new.
Who cares no single human being can possibly remember all languages? That's complementary to the fact that we are so many language speakers; because that's ultimately what we do: we are constantly scanning the world and creating new thought, and branding our innovations by putting unique names to them.
Asia is the other mother lode of all human creativity. Make it count!
I've said many times that we couldn't do it before, that we couldn't tolerate too many Asian words and categories in Europe (we couldn't even tuck in French, imagine that), simply because in the old days we lacked vision, patience, and the infinite memory capacity of today's machines. Those so-called European "modern men" only cared for those categories most familiar to them.
End irresponsible translations
This is about to change.
Now that we've mastered all the sciences, we must make a science out of the humanities — the last and sorry dimension that is still at fault, that is still dominated by opinion, speculation, ignorance, personal preference, faith and fashion and wise-cracks, and, sometimes, even outright despotism. We must end irresponsible translations of foreign key terminologies and we must work overtime to find the "untranslatable" words in each language.
The day will come when we are going to treat all vocabularies of the world's languages as the colored bricks in a box that was handed down to us by all those who came before us. Let us build the fairest construction the world has ever seen — the global language.
Thorsten Pattberg is a research fellow at The Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies at Peking University. Shanghai Daily condensed the article.
Source: Shanghai Daily