Publication details [#7108]

Semizu, Yukino. 2001. Oranda Tsûji and the Sidotti incident: an interview with an Italian missionary by a confucian scholar in 18th century Japan. In Mason, Ian, ed. Triadic exchanges: studies in dialogue interpreting. Manchester: St. Jerome. pp. 131–145.


From 1641 to 1867, Japan was virtually closed to the outside world except for trading with the Dutch, and Christianity was strictly forbidden by the government. In 1708, an Italian missionary was captured when he landed on a small island. He was first questioned by the local magistrate, then sent to the capital following a request from one of the most prominent scholars of the time. The interpreters for both interviews were a group of Dutch-speaking Japanese officials known as Oranda tsûji (Dutch language officers). These translator/interpreters administered the trading with the Dutch and carried out any necessary work involving the Dutch language. The incident led to a publication of the first influential study of the West by the Japanese. This article presents an interpreting event in which interpreters played a pivotal role in cultural transfer and the consequent intellectual development of the country. The historical background of translation in Japan is outlined, and the interpreters' position and their expected roles in the society are examined.
Source : Bitra