Melbourne hosts landmark Asian language forum

December 13 / 125

Madame Guo Xiaojuan from the Chinese consulate.
Madame Guo Xiaojuan from the Chinese consulate.

More than 100 Asian language and culture experts from nine countries visited the University last month to attend the 2013 Melbourne-Tsinghua Asia-Pacific Forum on Translation and Inter-Cultural Studies.

Co-organised by the University’s Asia Institute, Confucius Institute and Melbourne Graduate School of Education(MGSE), as well as Tsinghua University in China, the forum explored current trends in teaching the nuances of language across different cultures, from communications and education, to writing and publishing support.

It was one of the first events co-hosted by Tsinghua University outside of China.  Tsinghua, part of China’s C9 group of leading universities, is widely regarded as one of China’s most renowned universities.

The forum was attended by Mme Guo Xiaojuan, Consul (Education) for the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Melbourne and Pan Zijing, the sub-title translator for popular Chinese movies White Deer Plain and Red Cliff

Ms Julia Gong, Director of the Confucius Institute at the University, said the forum covered a range of key topics relevant to Asian language educators. 

“One key focus in discussion among the delegates was the importance of cultural contexts that shall be taken into consideration when people communicate across languages and cultures,” she said.

“An interesting example is the translation of ‘brother schools’ versus ‘sister’ schools" for the translation of the term ‘partnership’ into Chinese.  Underlining meanings or further interpretation of literal words shall be reflected in translation."

Professor Pookong Kee, Director of the University’s Asia Institute said the forum came at a particularly relevant time as the Australian Government sought to make its presence felt in Asia.

“We have seen the new Government has committed to Asia in a number of different ways, for instance through the New Colombo Plan.  We believe that the event was therefore a timely reminder of the many ways in which Australia and Asia can better work together to tackle similar issues,” he said.

“It is more than just language barriers that challenge dialogue between Australia and Asia. Our speakers strongly pointed towards the cultural differences that are relevant when people communicate across different international contexts.

“Many of Australia’s largest and important trading partners are based in Asia, and diplomatic exchanges between Australia and the region are expanding in both number and importance.  Language and intercultural communication is going to be an important consideration for Australia now and into the immediate future.”

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