Sunday, October 27, 2013

Pattberg: Translations reduce the world to what we already know

Thorsten Pattberg, Peking University, 2013
This article appeared in Trouw, a Dutch newspaper, on Aug 17, 2013

"Translations reduce the world to what we already know" reads a provocative quote in a recent opinion article entitled ‘Learning about China using the correct words’ published by Trouw newspaper on August 17. The quote originates from the German linguist Thorsten Pattberg who works at Peking University. His plea to let some Chinese words untranslated is defended by the Hong Kong-based communications specialist Adrienne Simons. –Hans van der Gaarden

“China is unloved and unknown. This is primarily a communication and language problem. What the West sees in China, it often sees through English language glasses. That obscures the view more than we think.”

“Talking past each other results in a relationship based on misunderstanding, mistrust and removal. It’s no different between countries. But China has become too big and too influential to be kept at a distance.”

“This means that Asian academics, artists and journalists cultural should introduce Chinese concepts using the original terms, instead of thinking about how Americans would call those things. It also means that Western opinion makers should do likewise and make an effort to understand China in the future, and what better way is there than learning Chinese words.”

The original op-ed is written in Dutch. It can be READ HERE.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A language for all - Una lingua per tutti

Thorsten Pattberg: Knowledge is a Polyglot (Big Think, 2013)
A language for all - Una lingua per tutti

By Mario Schiani

Given that there are so many languages, living and dead languages, official languages and unofficial ones, and, of course, a plethora of dialects, it can be said that the world is not lacking communication codes. In fact, there are too many languages which often caused poor mutual understanding in our otherwise rich European history. Sometimes, language itself constitutes an obstacle, rather than the means to work around communication problems. Someone – in our case a German linguist with the improbable name of Thorsten Pattberg – proposes, or perhaps provides us with, a “global language” through which humanity can finally harmonize its differences... [READ MORE]

Posto che esistono lingue vive e lingue morte, lingue ufficiali e lingue ufficiose oltre, naturalmente, a una pletora di dialetti, si può affermare che, al mondo, i codici di comunicazione non mancano. Ce ne sono anche troppi, se vogliamo, e le lingue, anche nella nostra Europa così ricca di Storia e povera di reciproca comprensione, a volte costituiscono l’ostacolo e non il mezzo con cui aggirarlo. Qualcuno - nel nostro caso un linguista tedesco dall’improbabile nome di Thorsten Pattberg - propone, o forse prevede, una “lingua globale” grazie alla quale l’umanità possa finalmente armonizzare le sue differenze... [READ MORE]
Follow Mario Schiani at La

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pattberg: How We Will Write in the Future (Video)

BEIJING - In order to preserve the full power and authenticity of any culture really we would have to preserve them their key terminologies -those words and concepts that are demonstrably difficult, if not impossible, to translate without infringing onto their culture's intellectual property rights. The English language has already adopted loads of foreign loanwords, but often in an arbitrary manner, more by chance and goodwill than by any disciplined, organized, and accountable methodology. In other words, for example Western translators, until now, practically could do whatever they wanted with Asian concepts; and Asian ideas, no matter how old and no matter how genuine, enjoyed little to no moral, scientific, or legal protection from being omitted, prohibited, or translated into convenient, often over-used European concepts. This has got to change some day, maybe not so distant a day in the near future...

Thorsten Pattberg advocates for a global language, and by that he has something very specific in mind. We need to continue to translate, of course, in order to communicate. But when it comes to the key terminologies of a culture, "we should not translate them but rather we should adopt them," Pattberg says. "The only way, as I see it, to create the global language is really to find a scientific way to adopt as many key terminologies as possible and to unite all the languages’ vocabularies into one."  [READ FULL TRANSCRIPT] [WATCH VIDEO]
Many thanks to Daniel Honan, Managing Editor, Big Think, and Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd, Producers, Big Think

Friday, October 18, 2013

Beijing Traditional Music Festival 2013

Chinese scholars of Music Education show great interest in German basic music education and how Germany preserves its own cultural identity (e. g. Germanic, Christian, Folkloric) through its state education, the church, and the community (e. g. music schools, dancing schools, etc.). Many Chinese scholars lament the fact that Chinese music education tends to westernize too much and thereby abandon its own 'Music of China', including Chinese tales, songs, dances and music instruments. There are 40 million children in this country learning to play Western classics on the piano instead of, say, re-enacting Chinese music on the puqin, pipa, huqin or erhu, to name but a few Chinese musical instruments. Fantastic conference and interesting panels.
中新网9月27日电 第五届“北京传统音乐节”将于2013年10月9日—13日在北京举行,昨日举行发布会。据了解,本届音乐节的主题为“礼乐重建”,龚琳娜、马金泉等数百名音乐家将参演。
大师班培训共举行三个专场,包括清华大学彭林教授的《先秦时代的乐器、乐理与乐教》、韩国汉城庆熙大学舞蹈研究所陈玉秀的《雅乐舞动态结构初阶段的应用——身心自我觉察》、大阪大学的Triyono Bramantyo博士的《印度尼西亚宫廷音乐》。

Sunday, October 6, 2013

On Global Language, End of Translation, and Non-Western Concepts

"The problem with that is, I think, that China is underrepresented in World history because Chinese terminologies are largely erased or omitted. A ‘China report’ in Western media without a single Chinese term is literally “Chinese-free”. And that’s a scandal." --Pattberg
[Interview with Danish Radio24syv ] [READ FULL TRANSCRIPT]

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Pattberg - German “China-Man” –

“It is often said that language is the key to understanding China's culture and tradition. The question is, which one should it be.” --Pattberg
Kind endorsement by “The current entry: 002 - Thorsten PATTBERG: The End of Translation  is a brilliant indictment of Western silent intellectual arrogance.

The West maintains Deutungshoheit – “having the sovereignty over the definition of thought”. Any non-Western thought may be “translated” into Western categories and accommodated into Western conceptual molds. So Chinese “thought” is just a translation of our own, hence never original. We are not even aware of it." [READ AT DIPLOMACY.EDU]

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Thorsten Pattberg and Frank Sieren - Vertrauen Wagen (Peking University Conference)

Thorsten Pattberg with Frank Sieren, Bestselling Author, Journalist, and Political Commentator

PEKING UNIVERSITY - I have been frequenting Beijing since 2003 –lived, studied, and created here- but never met in person who is possibly the Number One of all German “China-Experts”: Frank Sieren. Mr. Sieren is best known for his close relation to former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt who is a known "Friend of China" and who met many of China’s most influential leaders, including the great dictator Mao Zedong himself. Sieren and Schmidt produced very influential books, articles, and interviews. As a result, Frank Sieren became a superstar in all things related to China in the German-speaking world (his books became bestsellers in Germany and have been translated into Chinese), and a famed public speaker and moderator on Sino-German relations –political and cultural. He lives in China –in Beijing, mainly- for almost two decades now. Not always easy, I guess –the air quality, the traffic jams, the party dictatorship- but as the expat saying goes: Someone’s got to do it! Best of luck! [GO TO FRANK SIEREN'S WEBSITE]