They Only Look At EastSouthWestNorth

The following is a translation of the column by Chinese blogger Michael Anti in page B07 in Southern Metropolis Daily published on February 2, 2006.  The original column is at the back.

They Only Look At EastSouthWestNorth

The international blogs that I can read are either written in English or else they are European-language blogs that can be rapidly translated into English with translation software.  Previously, I made an extreme but quite apt comment: unless an event has been described in English, it might as well as not have occurred.  Who would disagree?  There are wonderful people in the Arabic world and the daily events over there are colorful and variegated, but how many Chinese persons know about them?

The converse is the same.  The reason why China is so mysterious is that most of the events in China are described in Chinese.  But, the foreign press has more or less compensated for this deficiency as they have the function of presenting China to the world, even though they carry their own biases.  With the elevation of the importance of China in the globalized system, the well-known foreign media are presenting major news about China almost daily.

So how do the foreign media directors based in China get their information about China every day?  Obviously, it isn't from China Daily.  There are many ways, but the most key channel is to read blogs, and they all read the same blog: Hong Kong resident Roland Soong's EastSouthWestNorth blog.

Roland is the son of renowned translator Stephen Chi Soong.  He has worked as a translator for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and he is presently a media market researcher.  His blog contains splendid translations of Chinese-language media reports, blog posts and forum posts.  Almost every mass coverage of incidents in China reflects his uncompensated contribution somewhere in the background.

An English-language blog by a Hong Kong resident is presently influencing the substance and direction of foreign media reports about China.  It is even more Reuters than Reuters.  Is this not sufficient proof of how great and frightening the power of blogs can be?  But when you can look at the speed, quantity and quality of his translations, you would be shocked as to how anyone can do that.

As soon as Li Ao's speech at Peking University was completed, his English-language translation of the full speech appeared in the evening.  When the latest Nanfang Weekend was posted on the Internet, his full translation of the front cover story appeared in the evening.  I finished my Chinese-language blog post, I went out for a rice box meal, I came back and I found the whole article has appeared in English at EastSouthWestNorth.  This sort of speed that drives people to despondency makes Roland the "god" in our circle, for he is not human.

I have personally met this respected "god" in Hong Kong.  He reminded me of a senior gentleman in old Shanghai.  His self-cultivation is beyond what wild children like us who grew up fumbling on our own can aspire to.  He said that he could be looking at the original document, and then typing out without thinking the translation on the keyboard of the notebook computer.  So this can be said to be translation by 'sight.'

If the Chinese blogosphere can be said to be like the world of martial arts, then EastSouthWestNorth's Roland is the supreme leader of the alliance who is in a lofty and unmatched position.  So please let us pay tribute to you, the leader of our tribe.

他们只看东南西北 
安替专栏
南方都市报

  我能看的国际博客,除了它本身是用英文写的之外,就是可以能快速用翻译软件译成英文的欧洲语言博客了。我之前说过一句偏激但蛮贴切的话:凡是没有用英文叙述过的事情就等于没有真实发生过。难道不是吗?阿拉伯国家精英荟萃,每天内部的故事也是五彩纷呈,可是有几个中国人知道?

  反过来也是一样,中国之所以神秘,就是因为大部分的中国故事都只用中文写就。不过,外电多多少少弥补了这个缺憾,他们起着一定的向世界介绍中国的作用,虽然带着自己的偏见。随着中国在全球化体系中重要性的提升,著名外国媒体几乎每天都会有关于中国的大新闻。

  那么,外电驻华社长们每天怎么获取中国的信息呢?当然不是ChinaDaily 了。有很多方法,但是目前已经是很关键的一个渠道就是看博客,而且看的博客都很一致:香港人Roland Soong 的东南西北(http ://www.zonaeuropa.com/weblog.htm)。 Roland 是著名翻译家宋淇之子,曾经做过联邦调查局的笔录翻译,目前是媒体市场分析员。他的博客每天翻译精彩的中文媒体报道、博客文章和论坛帖子。几乎每波外电集中对中国事件的报道,背后都有他的无偿贡献。

  一个香港人的英文博客目前在牵引各家外电报道中国的议题和方向,它简直比路透还路透,这还不够证明博客力量的伟大和可怕?但是如果你能看一下他翻译的速度、数量和质量,你就会吃惊怎么可能有人做到这样?

  李敖北大演讲刚结束,晚上他的英文全文翻译就出来了。《南方周末》的报道刚上摊,晚上封面报道的全文翻译就出来了。我刚写完自己的中文博客,去吃了顿盒饭,回来后文章的全文翻译就在东南西北上出现了。这种令人绝望透顶的速度使得Roland 成为了我们圈内的神,而不是人。

  我在香港见过这位令人尊敬的神,他让我想起了旧上海的老先生,其修养岂是我们这些自己胡乱摸索长大的野孩子能企及的?他说他能做到一边看原文,一边下意识地把译文在笔记本键盘上打出来,所谓同视传译了。

  如果中国博客界也是江湖,那么东南西北的Roland 就是传说中孤独求败的至尊盟主。请允许我们向您致敬,帮主。