Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

Lijian Cai

Adjunct Faculty

Translation has been my lifelong pursuit. It is something I have been happily investing my energy in all along. Before starting teaching at MIIS, I was a senior translation reviser with the UN Secretariat in New York, where I worked for 26 years as a translator, reviser, editor and senior reviser. A regular contributor to the Chinese Translators’ Journal, I am also the author of three books, namely Document Translation (to be published by Tsinghua University Press, Beijing), A Practical Guide to Upgrading Translation Competence (Beijing University Press, Beijing, 2014) and Effective Translation (Foreign Language Press, Beijing, 2011).

My passion lies not only in producing quality translations, but also in educating the next generation of first-rate translation professionals. The more I became aware of the fact that an exponential increase in demand for translation services in an increasingly interconnected world had been largely met by an equally colossal but disheartening increase in the volume of substandard translation products, the more I embraced the need for rigorous, no-nonsense translator training. Unlike many other translation programs around the world, the MIIS program emphasizes practical skills, rather than some theoretical aspects that have little or no relevance to real-world translation activities. That’s why I see the value of this program, one that is worthy of my input and that of our current and future students. I see translation as a delicate art, a balancing act between an obsession with a maximal degree of faithfulness to the original text and a healthy dose of creativity necessary to re-code the message in a way that it can produce a similar effect on the target language reader as it does on the source text reader. Proper guidance is essential to navigating this labyrinth filled with pitfalls. And experience could prove valuable. Translation is a serious art, which calls for a down-to-earth approach, defies hyperbole or pretentiousness, and has to be practiced, developed, and enriched on a solid foundation. And that is exactly what we will do in this program and beyond.

Expertise

Translation between English and Chinese.

Education

Graduate studies, Beijing Institute of Foreign Languages (Now Beijing Foreign Studies University), the United Nations Program for Translators and Interpreters

Undergraduate studies, Hangzhou University (Now part of Zhejiang University)

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