If this is not a Bible translation, what is the objective of the project?
The main purpose of this project is to study the challenges and opportunities that translators face when translating the Bible into a target language that is still in its infancy.
Languages evolve at varying paces. The Chinese Union Version in Mandarin was translated between 1890 and 1919, during the early days of the Vernacular Language Movement. At that time, the vocabulary and grammar were undergoing rapid change.
How can we experience the challenges and opportunities that the translators faced in the past? Today, Mandarin Chinese is a mature language. I could not have experienced what the translators of The Chinese Union Version went through by translating the Bible into Mandarin Chinese on my own. In this context, the Modern Yue Translation Project was born.
為甚麼我想經歷這種體驗呢？這是因為其他語文也曾經歷過類似變化。舉例說，在十二世紀的英格蘭，英文只是平民的語言，貴族用法文交談，律師操怪誕方言，即所謂「法律法文」，宗教和學術文章則用拉丁文。中古英文的地位不言而喻。後來英文的地位，花了幾個世紀爬升。莎翁(William Shakespeare)的作品和 The Tyndale Bible 和 King James Version 兩本英文聖經，就正好見證英文登上大雅之堂。
Why would I want to experience this? This is because other languages have also undergone similar changes in the past. For example, in the 12th century, English was the language of the masses in England. The upper classes spoke French. Lawyers used a weird dialect, so-called law French. Latin was used for theological and educational texts. The status of Middle English seems to be self-evident. The English language took several centuries to recover its prestige. The clearest indication of the extent to which the English language had risen in the social scale is the publication of William Shakespeare's works and the English translations of the Bible, The Tyndale Bible and The King James Version.
Is it fair to say that The Chinese Union Version played a similar role in the Vernacular Language Movement? I do not know, but I would like to experiment. I would pick and choose a language or dialect in infancy for translating the Bible. I will document the process and share it with you. I want to explore the interplay between Bible translation and the rise of a language.
In other words, the focus of this project is on language, not the Bible verses!
Therefore, the product is less significant. The process is what matters most. That is why the footnotes to the translated text are rather verbose. That is the way I tried to document the process.