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  • Lina Liu

Interpreting Philosophical Ideas


First time in my interpreting career last Friday 15 Dec 2017, I got to interpret the meaning of "atheism."

I was booked by an immigration solicitors' firm as a Mandarin interpreter, my task was interpreting English to Mandarin, and vice versa.

The immigration solicitor put many questions forward to his client, a 16 year old boy from mainland China in order to help the client with his immigration application with the UK Home Office. The teenager's mother is a Christian, due to her belief in Catholicism, she was prosecuted in China and fled to UK to seek asylum.

The solicitor asked him what was his opinion on atheism, why did he choose to be an atheist, who created the world? Why did he choose not to believe in Catholicism like his parents.

In Mandarin, atheist means "A person who doesn't believe in gods/godesses/ religions " 无神论者。

This is different from "No religious belief" 无宗教信仰.

The 16 year old boy said "I simply do not have any interest, nor opinion on any religion! I never contemplated on how the world was created. I have never labelled myself as any "ism!"

The session got a bit philosophical.

Reminds me of my student days at Queen's University writing essays on existentialism.

Cogito Ergo Sum (I think, therefore I exist, the famous quote from Rene Descartes)

I don't think, therefore I am not, perhaps.

Gnothi seauton? (Know Thyself)

I am a Mandarin interpreter, my job was interpreting Mandarin to English, and English to Mandarin. My job wasn't there to have a philosophical debate.

Anyone out there speaks Latin or studied philosophy?


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