West Coast New Area

American man translates Chinese classics in 10 years

( ) | 2018-04-24


Dai Ling writes Chinese calligraphy at his home on a mountain in Qingdao, Shandong province, March 30, 2018. [Photo/VCG]   

Without a smart phone and no connection to social media, a 43-year-old American man lives a hermit-like life on a mountain in China, where he's dedicated his time to translating classic works of Chinese philosophy into English.

His Chinese name is Dai Ling, "Ling" in Chinese means "mountain", which is a reflection of his hermit's life. Dai Ling lives in a small bungalow on a mountain in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province.

For the past 10 years, Dai has translated Tao Te Ching, a classic text written by Laozi, one of China's most influential philosophers who lived about 2,500 years ago .

Given the fact that the 5,000-word book is written in classical Chinese, and many of the words are vague and ambiguous, it can be difficult to understand, even for well-educated native speakers of modern Chinese.


Dai Ling's calligraphy works are displayed in his house, March 30, 2018. [Photo/VCG]  

"I turn to dictionaries of ancient Chinese to understand the hidden meanings of the texts, then translate them into idiomatic English," Dai said.

To avoid the influence of other authors, Dai did not read other translated versions of Tao Te Ching.

What drove him to come to China and learn Chinese culture? His answer goes back to his university days in the 1990s, when a history instructor gave him a copy of Tao Te Ching.

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