There were many translators in colonial Taiwan. It is true that the translators, including those who engaged in document translations and oral translations, were ‘bridges which connected different languages (Xu 2006)’ in the colony.
As long as the languages of the colonizers and the colonized were totally different or different enough not to be understandable to each other, translations were necessary. It is not appropriate, however, to assume that the translators could guarantee stable and clear communications between the colonizers and colonized all the time.
Translation is not ‘an isolated activity carried out independently of the power struggles within and among societies (Delisle & Woodsworth 2012).’ Translators can never escape from the historical and cultural contexts in which they live and work.
The description of translators and their works must not fall into politically-neutral narratives. To simply describe their works as something indispensable for the colonial power, however, does not guarantee a sufficient treatment for us to fully understand their roles. What this paper would like to gaze into is the translators themselves, that is, the subjectivity of the translators.
Two main topics shall be discussed in the paper to illustrate the historical and trans-cultural implications of the translators; multi-layeredness of the linguistic situation in colonial Taiwan and the trans-border characteristics of the translators. This paper mainly deals with the period from the commencement of the rule to around the middle of the 1900s; what I call ‘the systemization of the translators’ seems to have been completed about ten years after the islands came under Japanese rule.
The 20th Annual Conference of the North American Taiwan Studies Association, 18p.