Tuesday, 28 September 2010

What's "Guo Du"

What’s Guo Du?

Guo Du means transition, an interlude, in Chinese. 

It was a nom de guerre when I started this bilingual blog to share my novel Man’s Last Song. It is now a platform for my metamorphosing ideas, fleeting fantasies, evolving opinions, and captured images. 

Writing in two languages as fundamentally different as English and Chinese is fascinating. It forces me to approach an idea from contrasting cultural angles, giving it further depth and dimensions. In Chinese, I write in its simplified modern form for reasons I expounded in the post: "Hong Kong's Voluntary Obsolescence".

It is cultural perspective and equivalence —  not translation — that link my linguistic versions. To tell the same story, I sometimes need to modify dialogues, adjust setting, even change the characters, in order to provide cultural context, invite empathy, or simply be better understood. 

I love to write, but not for the sake of stringing beautiful sentences together. The purpose of writing should be to communicate thoughts and impressions. But opinions and perspectives may change with time and experience. Except for those encased in blind faith, today’s conviction could mature into irrelevance tomorrow. Isn’t youthful confidence a rich source of future embarrassment for people who do not stop observing, learning and changing?

Everything is a Guo Du. What better way to trace the transitions in life than writing down the way they appear to me at the time?  

James Tam
Revised October 2012

1 comment:

ss said...

This is going to be very interesting, especially for us who are bilingual in Chinese and English. In this introduction of "Guo Du", you've mentioned why you uses Simplied Chinese rather than Traditional Chinese for your novel. This concept does not exist in the English language. To have the original author does the translation is very original! Good luck and can't wait to read your stories!