Development Enables Language Preservation: “Hakka Innovation from the Perspective of World’s Famous Translations” Symposium

The Hakka Affairs Council (HAC) organized the“Hakka Innovation from the Perspective of World’s Famous Translations” symposium at TSUTAYA BOOKSTORE Songshan yesterday (March 16), with scholars Kao Yi-feng, Kan Yao-ming, Wang Tsung-wei, and Chung Raung-fu serving as panelists.

HAC Minister Yiong Cong-ziin said that HAC began a project to translate famous works of world literature into Hakka last year. According to last year’s statistics issued by the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics, only 1.5% of Taiwanese Hakka use Hakka as their main medium of communication in daily life. When a tongue no longer serves to express but becomes an abstract existence in people’s heads, it loses its ability to evolve and give birth to beauty. HAC therefore promotes the use of Hakka to create literary works and the direct translation of world literature classics into Hakka.

Minister Yiong further stated that J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye and Jack London’s White Fang translation to Hakka will be completed by August this year at the earliest, and translation of three more timeless literary works is planned by HAC for next year: Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha, and Jack London’s The Call of the Wild.HAC is also currently inviting acclaimed Taiwanese writers of Hakka ethnicity to use their mother tongue for literary creation, in the hopes that panelist authors can join in the effort to revitalize the Hakka language and culture.

HAC shared that this project mainly aimed at taking on the demanding task of rendering renowned English-language works directly in Hakka. The process can also help us reflect on and compare present-day Hakka vocabulary, word usage, and various expressive methods.

The symposium centered on discussion and sharing of experience by the four panelists on the topic of Hakka translation. By translating world classics from English to Hakka, we can better understand the challenges that Hakka will need to conquer to align with world languages, as well as the current status and possible invention of new words in the Hakka language in the future.