Publication details [#12848]

Wong, Lawrence Wang-chi (王宏志教授). 2007. Translators and interpreters during the Opium War between Britain and China (1839-1842). In Salama-Carr, Myriam, ed. Translating and interpreting conflict (Approaches to Translation Studies 28). Amsterdam: Rodopi. pp. 41–57.
Publication type
Article in jnl/bk
Publication language
Person as a subject


In the First Opium War, 1839-1842, the Chinese and British, with such huge cultural and language differences, had to rely heavily on a few exceptional individuals for translation an interpretation. The Chinese employed the tonshi, compradors (trade intermediaries) and merchants, some of whom were barely competent in the two languages, whilst the British recruited colonial administrators and missionaries. Some in the British camp not only collected and analysed piecemeal materials, but also assumed active parts in shaping the course of events. The article attempts to portray the roles played by the translators and interpreters of both parties, and the background of individuals and the position they enjoyed in their respective camp will be analysed to determine the different attitudes that the two camps held toward translators and interpreters.
Source : Based on abstract in book