Female interpreter gains fame for poem translations at Premier's press conference

13:22, March 17, 2010      

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Zhang Lu

At the close of the National People's Congress, the world's attention was fixed on Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's remarks, but it was Wen's interpreter who stole the show and captivated Chinese netizens. Beautiful female interpreter Zhang Lu's eloquent renditions of ancient Chinese poems catapulted her to fame with millions of TV viewers and netizens nationwide.

Reporters found March 15 on the micro-blog sections of various major Web sites that blogs about Zhang ranked even higher than those about athlete Liu Xiang who recently took the seventh position in the finals of the men's 60-meter hurdles at the World Indoor Athletics 2010 Championships in Doha.

"I think that her interpretation is excellent and indeed meets the national level," Luo Lisheng, dean of the Foreign Language Department of Tsinghua University, told reporters. He added that from a professional standpoint, the interpretation during the entire press conference was fluent and much of the political vocabulary was translated properly.

In regards to the ancient poems quoted by Wen, the profound cultural essence of the poems was very difficult to be described and could generally only be translated roughly because of the differences in cultural backgrounds of the Chinese and English languages. Thanks to her excellent performance, most of the poems were interpreted accurately.

Netizens' hot comments are much more colorful. What netizens talk about most is her ability in translating classical literature. When Premier Wen was quoting a line from the poem Lisao, "for what I cherish most, I am willing to die 9 times," many netizens found Zhang's translation to be extremely excellent. "In Chinese, we used to say 'die 9 times,' but English is different. Zhang's translation says 'die a thousand times,' which is very appropriate." Netizens think since she is so learned, she must come from a renowned family and they are deeply attracted by Zhang's unique qualities. A netizen named KelseyLiu wrote in her micro-blog, "Zhang, the senior translator, is my idol forever! She is really professional. In addition, she is charming, her taste is elegant and her haircut is pretty. I'll follow her example in my life!"

Reporters learned that Zhang was admitted to China Foreign Affairs University's Department of International Law in 1996, and graduated in 2000. Later, she changed her profession and became a senior interpreter. She currently serves as deputy director of the English Department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Translation Office. As an experienced interpreter serving state leaders, she frequently appears during important occasions. In the eyes of other people, she "is smart and elegant."

According to media reports, Premier Wen often quotes ancient poems and prose as well as technical terms during talks with leaders of foreign countries, and an interpreter must do much preparatory work in advance. Zhang often writes down the verses and idioms which have been used by Premier Wen so as to prevent potential nervousness. According to one of Zhang's classmates, Zhang is very smart and diligent. She often works until 1 or 2 a.m., and listens to radio programs from the BBC, VOA and CNN. She likes to take notes while reading the Reference News and Global Times.

On-site translations:

1. Zhang's translation for “亦余心之所善兮,虽九死其犹未悔”: “For the ideal that I hold dear to my heart, I'd not regret a thousand times to die."

2. Zhang's translation for“人或加讪,心无疵兮”: “My conscience stays untainted in spite of rumors and slanders from the outside.”

Work experience:

Zhang acted as the on-site interpreter during Premier Wen's meeting with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in February 2009.

Zhang served as interpreter during Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiachi's interview with journalists March 7, 2010

Zhang acted as interpreter during Premier Wen's interview with journalists March 14, 2010.


Attention: If you have different opinions on tranlation of the two sentences of poems, please leave them down in the message.

By People's Daily Online
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