Sep. 21st, 2015

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Primary texts on Ching Shih the Chinese Pirate Queen are unfortunately lacking in the Western World. This is a translation of 《靖海氛记》 one of the the main sources for Ching Shih's biography. The author was the adjutant of the Viceroy who received Ching Shih's surrender and the entire account is, according to him, compiled from eye and ear-witness testimony. There does exist another translation by Charles Fried Neumann, but his translation misinterprets several key concepts.

Translator's Notes: The part about Vietnam is bogus. Le Duy Khiem is called by the name of his ancestor Le Duy Ky. The first king of the Nguyen Dynasty, Nguyen Phuc An, is made into his brother. A war with Thailand after which Nguyen Hue died is conflated with the war between Nguyen Hue's son and Nguyen Phuc An. However, everything from Nguyen Quan Toan's escape is accurate. The "Chang Pao" in the text is the pirate better known as Chang Pao-Tsai, with the "Tsai" part meaning "The Kid". The mention that Ching I favored him, in the original Chinese, used a word that had sexual connotations. Also, the offer of surrender attributed to Kwo Pow-Tai here is more often attributed to Chang Pao Tsai himself. As I am not a speaker of Cantonese, nor do I know how the names were first romanized, the names might be rendered differently than what is familiar to a Western audience. For example, Charles Fried Neumann translated "东海伯" as "Scourge of the Eastern Sea. However, looking up the man's biography, the "东海" part does not refer to the Eastern Sea, but his birthplace of Dunghoi in Canton, while the last character in his moniker is rendered differently depending on regional dialect. This text renders it as "伯" meaning "Count", instead of "霸" meaning "Scourge". Also, some of the poetry at the end, which no longer has anything to do with the main subject, was left out. Many Chinese terms for ranks, titles, and timekeeping have been translated into English approximations.

Copyright: This work is an amateur translation that I'm doing because I'm bored. Any attempts to pass it off as an work of actual literary merit that you can make money from will probably get you laughed off of whatever site you're using. In other words, copy and sell at your own discretion.

Translation under cut )


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