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  • Writer's pictureYK CHEUNG

What is the Point of Studying Translation at University in Hong Kong?

Updated: Jun 27, 2021

Translation has ceased to be a subject in secondary schools in Hong Kong for decades. It is now usually one of the undergraduate programmes or part of one at nearly all universities across the territory. It is also a popular subject of master's programmes in many places round the globe.

The immediate benefit of reading translation is the enhancement of bilingual sensitivity, for an excellent command of both the source language and target language is, in theory, the sine qua non for translation competence. That said, whilst one may translate to some extent with the knowledge of two languages, it does not follow that his/her translation skills may achieve an advanced level -- efficient production of a work of translation which is as accurate as it is localised to the ears of the target language speakers. To be professional as a translator requires training.

Nevertheless, translation as a university subject is not confined to language training. University is the place for nurturing leadership skills through intellectual enquiry and activities. This is one of the reasons why jobs with supervisory duties for instance, Management Trainee and Probationary Inspector, to name but two, are targeted at graduates.

Language is, inter alia, at the heart of of leadership, enabling one not only to communicate, convince others, but also, more importantly, to command the respect of others. The relationship between language and leadership was well recognised by Confucius (See The Analects, Book 11).

Hong Kong is a bilingual city, where both Chinese and English are widely used. Bilingual competence and sensitivity through translation training can, without a doubt, prepare one to be a better leader!

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