For this ethnography, I thought it would be interesting to analyze the English translations of Chinese sentences that I often have to do for my Chinese class.
Since they are simply translations of already established sentences, and thus ideas, it is typical behavior to translate the sentence in Chinese as closely as you can in English, even though less precise translations probably convey the same idea. Furthermore, it is expected that your translation uses proper English grammar rather than “Chinglish” (using Chinese grammar structures that do not exist in English in your translation). However, I only came to know of these conventions by having seen many examples of good English translations and having been explicitly told by my professor to do, or not do, such things.
And because these translations are done in a classroom or academic context, their goal or purpose are quite clear: to demonstrate to my audience (my Chinese professor) that I understand new Chinese grammar structures and how they translate into English. Additionally, the academic context of these translations means that my grades are at stake in these writings. As a result, I often get feedback from my professor on these translations in which she points out grammar points that I should have included or changed in order for me to do better on future translations.
However, because it is not always clear how to translate a certain phrase, it can be quite frustrating at times to write these translations. This is especially true when I have to do such translations on tests because I cannot reference my textbook, the internet or friends as I can when I am simply doing such translations for homework.