The Acceptability of English Commentaries in the National Museum of Chinese Writing

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    Thank you for your participation in this survey. This questionnaire is about the English commentaries in the National Museum of Chinese Writing in China. Its aim is to find the problems and  the acceptability of the translation there. Your valuable input will be of future use in improving the translation of commentaries in museums in China.
    1~15 are 15 texts chosen from the English commentaries in the National Museum of Chinese Writing. Please read them, copy where you think it is improper or incomprehensible, explain the reason and evaluate them respectively by giving a mark (1~5, 1=poorest, 5=best). 16~20 are some specific questions, and please give your answers briefly.
    Now, please begin your reading and evaluation.
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1.The Oracle-bone Inscriptions are the ancestor of modern Chinese characters. It was unearthed from Yinxu, Anyang, the capital of the late Shang Dynasty. In the past hundred years, more than 130,000 pieces of inscribed oracle-bone were found. They recorded information concerning politics, economy, culture and natural science of the Shang which make them valuable materials for studying the society of that time.

(1)Where do you think it is improper or incomprehensible in the above translation?
Tips:Please copy the places where it is improper or incomprehensible in the textbox above, and separate them with“/” and you may revise it or explain it in “( )”, for example, “It was(They were)/ Yinxu”.
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2.Inscriptions in east Huayuanzhuang were mainly about “Zi”. Therefore, scholars are curious about the identity of “Zi”. They put forward the following opinions.Mr. Li Xueqin suggested in his preface to the inscriptions of East Huayuanzhuang that the Zi of the inscriptions refer to clan leaders, a broader meaning than taking “Z” as an aristocratic title.In the preface to Hua Dong, Zi is considered to be the Chief of a clan and also an important official. And the clan may be may be Qiangjia (Wojia). In Hua Dong, it is said that Zi had a high social status and great power. This is commonly accepted in academic circles. However, whether Zi was the offspring of Qiangjia is still disputed.

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3.In the Autumn of 1991, in order to assist road building work in Anyang, the archaeological team organized coring and excavating in the east of Huayuanzhuang. In an oracle-bone pit in this area, people found 1583 pieces of oracle-bone among which 689 were with inscriptions (5 pieces of scapula and 684 pieces of tortoise shells). Most of them were large pieces. 300 of them are almost complete plastrons with inscriptions. This is the third important discovery after the excavation of Pit H127 in 1936 and the pits at the South of Xiaotun in 1973. It was awarded with the national top then important archaeological discoveries in 1991. They have crucial academic value for studying the “non-royal” inscriptions.

(1)Where do you think it is improper or incomprehensible in the above translation?
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4.The “Four Tangs of oracle-Bone Inscriptions” refers to Luo Zhenyu, Wang Guowei, Dong Zuobin and Guo Moruo for there is a Tang in all their alternative names. “One Xuan” means the expert of oracle-bone inscriptions and historian Hu Houxuan. There five scholars made great contribution to the study on oracle-bone inscriptions.

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5.China is a unified multiethnic country. This diversity has led to the creation of more than 60 kinds of characters which met different historical fates. Some have disappeared over the course of history; some have been handed down till today; and some have been improved or were created after the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Looking back through history, the characters of ethic minorities and the Han ethnicity jointly form the large family of Chinese characters.

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6.Oracle-bone inscriptions are the earliest examples of mature writing system in China. They are written materials on turtle plastrons and cattle scapula from the late Shang Dynasty. In the Shang dynasty, Oracle-bone insercriptions were found at Daxinzhuang in Jinan, Shandong. Moreover, oracle-bone inscriptions from Pre-Zhou to Western Zhou Dynasty in Shannxi at fengchu, Zhougongmiao, Qijia and Zhaogjiapo; in Bejing at Baifu, Zhenjiangying and Liulihe; in Hebei at Nanxiaowang and in Henan at Luoyang. Oracle-bone inscriptions together with Egyptian hieroglyphic, Sumerian Cuneiform and the Indus script were known as the four great ancient scripts. As the earliest mature Chinese characters, oracle-bone inscriptions have continuously developed until today.

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7.Till now, the number of the characters in the Yinxu oracle-bones have reached almost 5,000 among which about 1,500 have been deciphered. Oracle-bone inscriptions show their own features and rules in character structures and the methods of forming characters. The methods of creating characters not only include pictographs, indicative and associative compound, but also pictophonetic and phonetic loan characters. They demonstrate the unique charm of Chinese characters.

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8. In the late Neolithic Age people started to inscribe images of marks on jade artifacts. Some of the images were close to characters. Based on current materials, at least by the late Shang Dynasty, people began to inscribe or write characters on jade artifacts. Representative jade-made crafts in the Pre-Qin period include: jade Zhang characters of the late Shang; Hou Ma covenant slips; Wen Xiao covenant slips; Shouqiu Zhongshan stone inscriptions, Qin state Inscriptions on drum-shaped stones; Inscriptions cursing Chu and Yin Jade Plate.

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9.In the Warring states period, there were five major characters systems, including Qi, Yuan, Jin, Chu and Qin. Only Qin characters inherited the features of Western Zhou characters while the other four systems have strong regional features and were called “the Characters of the Six States”. Strange structures and many strokes were the specialty of the Characters of the Six States. In the middle and late Warring States period, especially after the old official script was developed, pursuit of more standardization and more official script strokes in characters were features shared by all of the systems. Emperor Qin Shihuang’s policy of “unifying the script” was to use the characters of the traditional Qin system to replace the different writing systems of the Six States. The seal script of Qin was used unify the characters of the other six states. This was a big step in the history of the Han script.

(1)Where do you think it is improper or incomprehensible in the above translation?
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10.In the early stage there was no fixed form for steles. It was not until the Eastern Han Dynasty that the form of steles was fixed. The head, top tablet, front side, hole, back side, base, left and right sides and the inscriptions were all fixed into a certain layout. At the beginning of the inscription, there was preface while in the latter part there was verse. The inscriptions were about perfect.

(1)Where do you think it is improper or incomprehensible in the above translation?
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11.Of the 55 ethnic minorities in China, more than 20 of them still use their traditional writing systems, though to different extents, Among the current writing systems of the ethnic minorities in China, the Mongolians, Tibetans, Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Koreans, Kyrgyzes, Xibes and Dais still use their traditional scripts were also created, borrowed or introduced from abroad. Some of them were closely related to the oldest writings in human history, heavily influenced by Serindian Buddhism, and some of them even became the official scripts of national or local regimes, such as the Mongolian script and ’ Phags-pa script of the Yuan Dynasty, the Manchu scripts of the Qing Dynasty, and the Tangut, Qitan and Jurchen scripts of the Song-Yuan times. The manuscripts and cultural relic recorded in these scripts provided us with much valuable data reflecting the social system and daily life in ancient China.

(1)Where do you think it is improper or incomprehensible in the above translation?
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12. The Argi-Kucha script, which used to be called Tocharian script, was used by people speaking Indo-European languages in the modern areas of Turfan, Yanqi and Kuqa in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous region. Argi-Kucha is a syllabary containing about 30 basic graphs using the slanting letters of Brahmi in central Asia. The literature excavated indicates that this script actually recorded two dialects of one single language: one is now called Yanqi and the other Kuqa. Major literature in Argi-Kucha includes the Buddhist sutra Maitrisimit as well as books of account in monasteries.

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13.After the decline of the Mobei Uyghur Khanate Kingdom in 840, one branch of the uyghurs united with Qarluq and Yaghma and established the Oara Khan kingdom. In the middle of the 10th century AD, Satuq Bughra Khan converted to Islam and propagated Isllam in the Kashgar region. It was at that time that Qara khan Turkic script or Haqaniya script, which employed Arabic letters to form Turkic words, came into existence. Qara Khan Turkic script contained altogether 28 letters, and in the middle of the 11th century, classics with high literary and linguistic qualities such as Qutadghu Bilig Divanü and Lügat-it-türk were written.

(1)Where do you think it is improper or incomprehensible in the above translation?
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14.After the occurrence of block printing, Bi Sheng, a worker in Northern Song, invented movable clay character printing in the period Qing Li (1041-1048). In succession to movable mud characters, people later made movable characters out of wood, copper, tin, lead, etc., and improved the layout material and character-checking method. Movable character printing not only cut the labor cost and the consumption of layout material, also it recorded the printing cycle and printing cost. It marked a great milestone in the printing history of humanity.

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15. With deeper research into the basic theory of Chinese characters and the constant development of Chinese character keyboard input technology, China successively organized to formulate a series of national standards and specifications on Chinese information processing to make Chinese characters’ encoding more standard. The developments are as follow. First, after the trial of the big-sized, medium-sized and standard small-sized keyboard, Chinese character keyboard input methods finally began to be based on the standard keyboard and numerical keyboard. Second, Chinese character keyboard input systems gradually formed their own theoretical system. Based on the further research of lexis, syntax, semantics and pragmatics, a standard and efficient Chinese character keyboard input system which is easy to master and use has been developed. A number of scientific and technological achievements with proprietary intellectual property rights have been launched.

(1)Where do you think it is improper or incomprehensible in the above translation?
 (2)Evaluation: *
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16. The information of the commentaries is: *
17. After reading the above commentaries, are you more interested in visiting the National Museum of Chinese Writing? *
18. If you are visiting the museum, what information of the commentary do you want to know most? *
 19. Which of the factors below do you think influences the translation of the commentaries most? *
20. Please give suggestions to the translation of commentaries in museums.