Practical Translation: English into East Asian Languages

Key information

Year of study
Year 1 or Year 2
Module code
Department of Linguistics

Module overview

A characteristic of translation studies is its integrative view of translators, readers, publishers and other players, together with their motivations and expectations, through the consideration of social, cultural, historical and political factors. This indicates the importance of local context in translation studies research. East Asia has a rich tradition of translation. Knowledge transfer and cultural exchange were historically active in East Asia.

Although each East Asian society had its own experiences of modernization, these were also interrelated on different levels. In more recent years, the circulation of knowledge and innovative ideas in different modes has advanced and diversified, extending to areas such as fashion, popular culture and the entertainment industry. Translation practices in East Asia have flourished against such a background. The aim of the lectures in this module is to understand the intertwined relationships between Chinese, Japanese, and Korean from sociological, cultural, and historical perspectives to reflect the practice of translation. This is a module unique to SOAS.

The objective of this module is to help students acquire advanced translation skills in translation from English to Chinese, Japanese and Korean. It also aims to familiarise students with the process and techniques of translating from English into the Chinese, Japanese and Korean languages, developing their skills to a high level of proficiency, and provide them with much practical experience of translation.

Texts from various sources, including game translation, audiovisual, literature, newspapers, magazines, the internet, government documents, and academic journals/books, and in various styles and genres (academic, media, business, and technical texts) will be assigned for class practice and homework.

The module will raise students’ awareness of issues relating to literal and free styles of translation, to targeted readership, to degree of formality, and to cultural implications. Classroom time will be divided between translation and discussion of translation choices made by students. Some classes the students attend together, others will be held separately by language (Chinese, Japanese, Korean). Built into the module is a systematic comparative analysis of linguistics and methodological aspects of translation between English and the East Asian languages.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  • Translate a variety of text-types including literary, academic, media, business and technical texts
  • Develop intellectual perspectives on the activity of translation and expand topic-based vocabulary


The module is taught over 10 week, 2 hours each week (1 lecture + 1 seminar)

Scope and syllabus

This module covers various translation genres including the following:

  • Game
  • Audiovisual
  • Subtitle
  • Journalism
  • Advertisement
  • Recipes
  • Manual
  • Literature
  • Academic
  • Music

Method of assessment

  • 1 x (1000 words) take-home translation assignment of English text to be submitted term 1 (20%)
  • 1 x (1000 words) take-home translation assignment of English text to be submitted term 1 (20%)
  • 1 x (3000 words) Translation and commentary essay to be submitted term 2 (60%)
  • The exact assessment deadline dates are published on the relevant module Moodle/BLE page

Suggested reading

  • Baker, Mona (1992) In Other Words: A Coursebook on Translation. Routledge.
  • Han, Ziman and Li, Defeng (eds) (2019) Translation Studies in China: The State of the Art. Springer.
  • Hasegawa, Yoko (2011) The Routledge Course in Japanese Translation. Routledge.
  • Hung, Eva and Wakabayashi, Judy (2005) Asian Translation Traditions. St. Jerome.
  • Kang, Ji-Hae, and July Wakabayashi (eds) (2019) Translating and Interpreting in Korean Contexts: Engaging with Asian and Western Others. Routledge.
  • Kiaer, Jieun (2017) The Routledge Course in Korean Translation. Routledge.
  • Sato-Rossberg, Nana (2012) Translation and Translation Studies in the Japanese Context. Continuum.
  • Sato-Rossberg, Nana and Uchiyama, Akiko (eds) (2019) Diverse Voices in Translation Studies in East Asia. Peter Lang UK.
  • Shei, Chris and Zhao-Ming Gao (eds) (2017) The Routledge Handbook of Chinese Translation. Routledge.

Additional Reading

  • Chang, Tak-hung Leo (2004) Twentieth-Century Chinese Translation Theory: Modes, issues and debates. J. Benjamins.
  • Cho, Heekyoung (2016) Translation's Forgotten History: Russian Literature, Japanese Mediation, and the Formation of Modern Korean Literature. Harvard University Asia Center.
  • Sato-Rossberg, Nana and Curran, Beverley and Tanabe, Kikuko (eds.) (2015) Multiple Translation Communities in Contemporary Japan. New York: Routledge.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules