My name is Jessica Cheng and I spent the last 7 weeks interning here at the Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica. I was interning here as part of the Taiwan Tech Trek Internship program, designed give oversea Taiwanese students an internship experience in Taiwan.
It’s actually a bit ironic that I ended up interning here at IHP. I’m currently a rising senior at Northwestern University, in Evanston, IL, majoring in Journalism and Classics. Not really much connection to Archaeology and Chinese history other than the fact that with my Classics major I spent most of time studying ancient history…which sort of correlate with ancient Chinese history.
But anyway, in the past 7 weeks I spent a bulk of the time working on translating websites documents for IHP and helping to catalogue artifacts IHP unearthed in China and Taiwan. Translating documents has been a frustrating but also, hilarious experience. The lack of plurals in Chinese, idioms, and oddly phrased Chinese writing etc. Does 腿骨 refer to just one leg bone or both leg bones? 籠統來說，一個是土派，一個洋派，可以說是不同體質的雙胞胎, just doesn't sound right when translated literally into English. It’s been a challenge figuring out how to translate writings about a culture very different from American culture. There just aren’t the words, or even if there are words, the feeling generated from the word lacks the same feel in Chinese.
I’m fortunate to have a very patient supervisor, Ting Yu, to help figure out what the Chinese text is saying when I have no idea what a good half of the words are. Chinese words often seen in normal use I can read, obscure high literature words are beyond me. I stopped taking Chinese in 5th grade—but I think I’ve improved on my reading skills this summer translating all those text.
Additionally I’ve also learned more about Chinese history—which I have to admit I know next to nothing about. Any knowledge I did have comes from watching too many historical dramas when I was little—not exactly the best source of factual information.
In translating an animation about Shang Dynasty Tomb 1001, I learned about the existence of this dynasty and burial customs. Along with that, bits about the people who started researching the oracle bones, and history of the Shang Dynasty.
Anyway, today is my last day. But I will really miss the people here—everyone has been very kind and fun to talk to. I’ll miss joking around with my co-workers about the eccentricities of Taiwan pizza.
Really. Kimchi pizza?