Another CATTI session has come to a close. You, dear reader, must have been anxiously waiting for the release of test scores, a proof of your translation skills. Many years ago, I stumbled upon a collection of short essays by an expert translator. In it, as I remember, the author put translators into three categories: Grade One are translators with both rich experiences and admirable attitudes; Grade Two, only with the latter; and Grade Three, with none. Of course, this is hugely different from the official test criteria, but more or less it reflects some issues that harrow the translation community. Can one be regarded as able to take on translation work when s/he has passed the test and has been issued the long-anticipated certificate? How many of the successful candidates can settle down and remain dutiful and honorable as linguists in weeks, months, and years to come? Apart from technical assessment, what else can beef up our skills? Hope the following story will personally provoke some constructive thoughts on these questions.
The story took place in the Qin Dynasty nearly two thousand and two hundred years ago. The protagonist was named Zhang Zifang, a well-known statesman and a descendant of a noble family in the State of Han during the Spring and Autumn Period. He had failed at his plot to avenge the destruction of the State of Han by killing the First Emperor of Qin in Bolangsha. He got away with it by using fake identities and thus lived a fugitive life in Xiapi.
One day, Zhang took a stroll on the Yishui Bridge near Xiapi. There he met an old man in rough clothes. The old man walked up to him, chucked one of his shoes down the bridge on purpose, and yelled at Zhang, “Hey, boy, go down and fetch me my shoe!”
Zhang was astonished. The old man’s manners annoyed him so much that he wanted to give him beans. But then on second thought he decided to help because he regarded respect for the elderly as a moral virtue.
The old man then lifted his foot and demanded, “Boy, put on the shoe for me.”
Zhang thought he should honor him all the way through, so he bent over to put on the shoe. The old man showed no sign of gratitude and walked away laughing, leaving Zhang standing there and staring after him in bewilderment.
The old man turned back after walking a distance and said, “This child is good enough to be taught!” With that he asked Zhang to meet him on the bridge again at dawn five days later.
Still bewildered, Zhang nevertheless agreed.
Five days later, Zhang arrived at the stroke of dawn, but the old man was already waiting for him on the bridge. The old man chided him, “How can you be late for meeting with an elderly man? Come back again five days later!”
This time Zhang hurried to the bridge upon roosters crowing in the early morning, but the old man still arrived earlier than him. He was scorned once more, “You are late again. Come back again five days later!”
The third time, Zhang set off to the bridge at midnight and waited until the old man showed up. It was not a while later that the old man walked onto the bridge and rejoiced at Zhang’s early arrival, “Good job, boy!”
Impressed by Zhang’s fortitude and humility, the old man presented Zhang with a book titled Art of War by Jiang Taigong, saying, “You can counsel an emperor after reading this book.”
Then he left without looking back.
Zhang immersed himself in this book and learned a great deal from it. Before long, he started to counsel Liu Bang, the first emperor of the Han Dynasty. Eventually, Zhang made history as one of the “Three Heroes of the early Han Dynasty”, along with Han Xin and Xiao He, for his outstanding service to the emperor.
Now we have revisited this popular legend, any thoughts? Isn’t the old man an effective embodiment of a career in translation? One in which difficult and intense tasks are often assigned, demanding our utmost patience, humility, and stamina. One that cures us of any utilitarian and egotistical desires. One that repeatedly throws hard work into the future. Therein lies a greatness that can be achieved down the road. More power to your elbow!
(Much thanks to Crystal for providing historic fodder and professional insight as reflected herein.)
(Any comments or suggestions are welcome!)
来源：全国翻译专业资格（水平）考试网 日期：2019年11月29日 作者：胡婧