Wuxia translation – a preview

I have always wanted to do an adaptation of my favourite wuxia novels. Translations of these novels from Chinese to English are often too literal and do not bring out the full flavour of the story.

I started working on a translation of the first chapter of Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils to practice writing about the culture and the setting of the wuxia world in English.

Although the translation does not flow as well as I would prefer if it were an adaptation, it was good practice. The translation was also satisfactory. I believe it is a more wholesome translation of the novel.

I have no intention to translate all fifty chapters of the novel as this project was to simply study how wuxia would be like in English. But if there are enough requests for it, I might actually commit to translating the whole book.

The problems I encountered were mainly with translation of wuxia terms. Some translators use “martial sibling”, “martial brother” or “martial sister” to translate terms like shixiong and shidi. While it fully explains the relationship, I find it too literal.

I prefer to use terms such as senior and junior to describe the relationship. In the end, I went with using the terms untranslated in the Hanyu Pinyin and annotated it to explain the terms.

The same goes for names of places. I used the Hanyu Pinyin mixed with English terms for the names of places.

At fourteen pages, it’s a little long and might be tedious to some since I chose to follow how Louis Cha wrote the scenes. Nevertheless, I hope you will enjoy the first chapter of Demi-Gods and Semi-devils.

Please contact me if you’re interested in reading more wuxia translations.