The past is a page

Yong Suk Koh

Meet Yong Suk Koh, a student in the Master of Translation who is making the China of the past come alive today through words.

“Translation,” Yong Suk Koh says, “is not just about learning the language.”

“Translating from one language to another not only requires a thorough understanding of the two countries’ languages, but also requires extensive knowledge and understanding of their cultures and the context in which the original text was written.”

For Yong Suk, a native Japanese and English speaker, the culture in which she’s immersed herself for both a Bachelor and Master of Translation is ancient Chinese. 

“I have always been intrigued by the ancient Chinese culture, which encouraged me to study the language – both the language that is used in China today and the language that was used in ancient China.

“I am particularly interested in ancient Chinese poetry and literature, for example poetry written by Tang dynasty poets such as Li Bai and Du Fu and the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. This was why I particularly enjoyed the Classical Chinese courses I undertook during my undergraduate years, as I had the chance to read a variety of texts from ancient China.”

Yong Suk says it’s a focus on this “crucial” contextual and cultural understanding that makes translation studies at ANU particularly attractive.

“ANU provides various courses in which students can engage in in-depth cultural and/or political studies in relation to Asian countries as well as a variety of language courses and translation courses, which makes it an excellent environment for translation studies.

“I was also very happy with the standard of teaching and learning facilities here. The libraries, particularly the Menzies library, held almost all of the information that was required to complete my courses and much more. All of the lecturers and tutors were always approachable and helpful, and most importantly, passionate about the topics that they were teaching.”

Yong Suk hopes the rapid growth of China will increase the opportunities for her to use her Chinese-language skills professionally, but ultimately, her passion is not for the China of the future, but the China of the past.

“It would be great if somewhere down the line I can somehow help spread ancient Chinese culture to a wider audience, as people who aren’t academically interested in ancient China wouldn’t, I imagine, be familiar with its culture and literature. It may help to provide a new perspective on China.”

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Updated:  24 April, 2017/Responsible Officer:  Dean, ANU College of Asia & the Pacific/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team