Interesting elements in the language of Chinese children's books often get lost in the process of translation from Chinese into English.
Such is the view expressed in a seminar recently held in the Italian city of Bologna, regarding the popularization of Chinese children's books in other countries.
The seminar focused on the success of the translation of a series of fairy tale picture-books based on a magic piggy, created by Gao Hongbo, a renowned writer and vice-chairman of the Chinese Writers' Association.
Li Xueqian, head of the China Children's Press and Publication Group, explains that his group has set rigid criteria for translators to follow before a book's copyright is exported.
The translators of Magic Piggy-Joey are all Chinese citizens who have lived in English-speaking countries for years and share a profound interest in literature. Meanwhile, experienced international publishers have been invited for a final proof reading, according to Li.
Li believes the translated context should be both loyal to the original Chinese version and in line with Western reading habits.
For instance, the piggy's name was changed to Joey, a very common name in English literature, following the advice of a senior native publisher. The publisher with the International Board on Books for Young People added that English literature avoids using elaborate names when trying to arouse children's interest.
Li described the translated book series as a success since he found the English version of the stories maintained the same strong sense of rhythm as the original Chinese stories. The seminar is one of the activities arranged by Li's publication group during their participation into the Bologna Children's Book Fair.
The China Children's Press and Publication Group sent their delegation to the international fair for the first time this year, to promote Chinese children's books to readers across the world.