On 6 October 1971, the “Hong Kong Translation Society Limited” was formally incorporated in Hong Kong. It represented the fruition of a vigorous campaign for the institution of a non-profit making academic association in the territory to promote standards, exchange, publication and research relating to translation from and into Chinese, seven months after an inaugural meeting was summoned by its seven subscribers: Louis Cha, T. C. Lai, Meng Ma, Stephen C. Soong, Alex H-H Sun, Philip S. Y. Sun and Siu-Kit Wong.
The staunch belief of these men of letters, six distinguished academics and one renowned martial arts fiction writer-cum-newspaper publisher, were engraved in the Society’s Memorandum of Association. As stipulated in Article 3, the first-and-foremost object of the Translation Society is:
To raise the standard of translation by assisting in the training of Chinese and other languages and by encouraging those engaged in scholarly pursuits to translate important works in Chinese and other languages, in order to cater to the needs of a developing society and to promote cultural exchanges, and for this purpose:
(1) To hold meetings of the Society;
(2) To publish books or periodicals, sponsor research on various aspects of translation, organise conferences on special topics and engage in other activities compatible with the objects of the Society;
(3) To print, publish, sell, lend or distribute the proceedings or reports of the Society.
The Society became a registered charitable organization with the government in 1991. As the only organization for translation scholars and professionals in the territory, it has been a member association of the Translators Association of China since 1986 and the Fédération Internationale des Traducteurs since 1988.
The Society conducted its own Diploma and Advanced Diploma examinations from 1991 to 1995, specifically designed to be exacting, practical tests of translating and interpreting at undergraduate and graduate levels, offering opportunities to capable persons lacking a formal qualification in translation.
Over the years, the Society has provided free professional opinion and expertise upon request by the government and different sectors of the community on various issues, including translation and language education in Hong Kong, the English translation of the Basic Law of the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong, as well as the annual Hong Kong Youth Translation Competition.
The Society celebrated its 20th anniversary in 1991, when a charity piano recital by virtuoso Fou Ts'ong was held for the institution of a Memorial Fund in dedication to modern Chinese translation master Fou Lei.
In 2001, the “Third FIT Asian Translators’ Forum” was held in commemoration of our 30th anniversary, further consolidating its contribution to the cause of translation in Hong Kong.
2005-06 witnessed our 36th Anniversary featuring the “Translation and the Arts Seminars”, a series of “Distinguished Scholars Lectures” and a “Charity Painting and Calligraphy Exhibition” showcasing the works of local scholar artist T. C. Lai, Founding Member-cum-President Emeritus of the Society.
In 2011, a public lecture titled “Translation in Hong Kong: Challenges and Opportunities in the 21st Century” was held to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Society.
The 45th-anniversary celebration in 2016-17 featured a large-scale “Translation and the Professions” Symposium, a Public Library talk series titled “Translation and Our Daily Life”, and a translation forum titled “Meet the Masters” where newly conferred Honorary Fellows of the Society shared their insights on translation with the public.
2021 is a watershed year for the Hong Kong Translation Society. In commemoration of our Golden Jubilee, a Specialized Translation Talk Series and a continuous project on Oral Translation History in Hong Kong are in the making. Details will be announced soon.