On the translation of names, I suspect there is no best way. The problem gets even more complex when we observe that some people can have different ways of being referred to (title vs name, or sometimes just two names, like the King of Wei, the warring state, being called both King of Wei and King of Liang ancient histories, ...). Should we consistently use one name, to help the reader, or remain faithful to the text, have all the names, and and footnotes, with the risk of falling into the academic book syndrome: 10 pages of notes in small print for half a page of text...
Same goes for some specific naming convention. Just for example, in the early years of the Spring and Autumn Annals, princesses (daughters of feudal princes who get married to other feudal princes) often have a name made of two characters. The first is their rank in the family (bo 伯 or meng 孟, zhong 仲, shu 叔, ji 季, for the first, second, third and younger daughter), and the second their clan (姓) of origin. We then get names like Mengzi (孟子) for the oldest daughter of the duke of Song, or Zhongji (仲姬), for the second daughter of the Duke of Lu (or any other state with surname Ji) or Shujiang (叔姜) for the young princess of the marquis of Qi. Now, this naming convention is very meaningful, because a contemporary could get at first glance where the princess came from, and where she stood in her family. Yet, this specificity is probably lost on most modern readers, even in the chinese original. A note can help, of course, but what should a translator do?
Translating Mengzi as "the eldest princess of Song" makes sense, but sounds clumsy, even more for "the princess born in the third rank in a state ruled by the Ji clan"... in this case, translitteration (mengzi) and a note, would be the only option.
Rong Qin Wang,
The numbers of 1000 and 100 for the states of Zhou (West and East) are probably gross estimates. I think someone actually tried to count all the states mentioned in the original documents, and arrived, for the whole Zhou dynasty, at several hundreds. But then, not all of them existed simultaneously, some went by different names in different texts, I think the real number is probably a few hundreds at the beginning, going down as time goes by.
As for the warring states, the number seven comes from the expression "six states against Qin", which was used to describe the period. The six states are Wei, Han, Zhao, Yan, Qi, and Chu. All of them were destroyed by Qin (the seventh). But several other states existed for most of this era (Yue, until 334, Song, until 286, Lu, until 249, and Zhongshan in the fourth century). There were probably a handful of smaller states, but I think it is fair to say that the Warring States were more like 10 than 7. I think the expression seven states is only correct for the very last part of the period, ie 246-221, after the demise of the last Zhou king, from the crowning of Zheng, King of Qin (Qin Wang Zheng) to his claiming the imperial title of First Emperor Qin (Qin Shi Huangdi).
Edited by fcharton, 29 November 2006 - 08:03 AM.