On July 15th, 2016, Hu Liping, a senior interpreter of the United Nations, delivered a lecture entitled Language and Diplomacy: Politics in language at 301(3), Nan ‘an Building. Associate Professor Zhang Xudong from School of International Relations and Research School for Southeast Asian Studies was the host.
Mr. Hu presented the political implication and the importance of diplomatese by analyzing specific instances in international relations and the United Nations. Mr. Hu’s fluent oral English and the felicitous examples inspired respect and admiration.
In the beginning, Mr. Hu illustrated the example of battleplane crash incident between China and US in 2001. In the incident, China and US confronted each other for the contradiction of an apology. In the end, an agreement was reached about the phrase and the two countries explained the same word in different ways. A subtle word and the flexibility in explanation helped resolve the impasse, exemplifying the vital role of language in the arena of diplomacy.
Mr. Hu demonstrated some cases in which some words seeming to be of little difference in use and translation actually indicate diverse political connotations. He emphasized that in the UN negotiations, words of a slight difference, such as singular or plural forms, lower-case and capital letters, even the location of a punctuation mark, indicated different political implications, influencing national interests and stirring the nerve of diplomats. Political sensitivity, rigorous attitude, as well as keen concentration to international affairs are the essential qualities of an interpreter. Instantaneous changes in the arena of diplomacy impact the specific application of interpretation.
Mr. Hu’s professional lecture was greeted with enthusiastic applause and questions raised by the audience. Based on his personal working experience, Mr. Hu shared what he had seen and experienced in the UN during the past 20 years and his opinions of the relation between language and diplomacy. He unveiled the mystery of foreign affairs in the UN and showed the glamour of interpretation, encouraging and inspiring the students to be excellent in study, proficient in language and devoted to a diplomatic career.
By Cai Baozhen and Yang Yang.
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