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Standardizing Tibetan terminology urgently needed
update:December 24,2020
Dec.24,2020 -- Along the national highway G318, tourists are often confused by Tibetan names. One Tibetan name might have two Chinese versions like Suo Lang and Si Lang, Qiang Ba and Xiang Ba. It’s due to different accents of Tibetan language in different regions. There are many similar examples in Tibetan-Chinese translation. The lack of standardization for the translation of Tibetan terminologies affects not only their usage but also the international discourse power related to Tibetan issues.

Tibetan Terminology Standardization works. Yang Chengchen/China News Agency.
What’s little known to many people is that China’s Education Ministry and the State Language Commission have been promoting the standardization of Tibetan terminology translation in the last several decades.
The National Tibetan Terminology Standardization Committee was set up in 1995. The China Tibetology Research Center has started to coordinate the work on Tibetan terminology standardization since 2011. After the outbreak of the coronavirus, the National Tibetan Terminology Standardization Committee published a list of pandemic-related terminologies including “COVID-19” and “person to person transmission” in both Chinese and Tibetan in order to ensure that pandemic-related information can be conveyed accurately.

Zhaxi Ciren is interviewed in Beijing. Chengchen/China News Agency.
Zhaxi Ciren, research fellow at the library of the China Tibetan Research Center, said the Tibetan-Chinese-English Dictionary of Information Technology Words published in 2007 has been one of the most important works in recent years. Zhaxi said that we have to waste no time in standardizing Tibetan terminology because overseas academic institutions are also working on it.
People used to call the social media app “WeChat” by its English name because the app didn’t have a corresponding Tibetan rendition. Several years ago, the National Tibetan Terminology Standardization Committee determined the app’s Tibetan name as “Ge Cheng”, meaning “communication by voice”.
Zhaxi said: “The emergence of new words signifies social development. It is the increasingly energetic society and frequent communication between peoples that cause new words to appear.”
By:Zhou Tianyu
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