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Translate English to Vietnamese / Overseas Vietnamese translate biology textbook to help students at home

Cover of the sixth edition of the book “Molecular Cell Biology” in English (L) and the first Vietnamese version of the book

A group of young Vietnamese people working and studying abroad are translating English books into Vietnamese to help students in Vietnam have greater access to updated knowledge and information.

[English to Vietnamese translation - tdntranslation - 350]

The leader of the group is Dr Nguyen Xuan Hung, working at the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Strasbourg, France. Its main members are Dr Le Thi Nguyet of Boston’s Children hospital and other postgraduate students including Nguyen Ngoc Luong of Korea’s Chonbuk National University, Tran Thi Thu Thuy of California San Diego University and Salk Institute Biological Studies in the US, and Nguyen Thanh Diu of Oxford University in England.

An unnamed member of the group said:



Members of the translating group

  “Most of the scientific textbooks used in Vietnam, especially biology textbooks, are outdated as they have been translated or edited around 10-30 years ago. On the other hand, not all Vietnamese students can understand thoroughly or have opportunities to access qualified scientific English documents; so this translation project will not only help them to understand the books easily but also give them a chance to gain more of knowledge.”

The group has been translated a part of the book “Molecular Cell Biology” with the support of its author, Professor Harvey Lodish, one of the founders of the US-based Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research.

In cooperation with Ho Chi Minh City-based Tre (Youth) Publishing House, the team has issued the book's first Vietnamese edition, containing the first

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chapters of the sixth edition of the book, which so far has been warmly welcomed in Vietnam.

The group considers “Molecular Cell Biology” a document that would help many Vietnamese students and researchers.

Although members of the group live far from each other, they work together in an online forum to make sure the translated version of the books is consistent and coherent.

The group is now working on the seventh edition of “Molecular Cell Biology” and has planned to publish its second Vietnamese edition in March next year

But at the moment, they are having some financial problems as revenues from the first edition have barely covered the costs of printing and publishing.

However, raising the book's price would not be their solution, because the current price of VND87,000 (US$4.16) for one book) is still high for many Vietnamese students.  

The group has called on the Vietnamese youth and student association in Boston to raise funds for the project, with the hope reducing the second edition's price further.

Found in translation

Guenter Giesenfeld and Marianne Ngo, who won a notable award in Germany this year for their translation of a short story collection by Vietnamese author Le Minh Khue

I first met Professor Guenter Giesenfeld at an international conference on promoting Vietnamese literature more than a year ago. Our paths crossed again after Le Minh Khue’s short story collection, “Small Tragedies,” translated by Giesenfeld and Marianne Ngo, won a notable translation grant from the society for the promotion of African, Asian and Latin American literature in Germany this year.

Congratulations on the translation award. What motivated you to translate Vietnamese literature? When did you start and what results have you achieved so far

Guenter Giesenfeld: I have been a professor of German and Comparative Literature at the University of Marburg, so I know to which extent literature can be an indicator for social situations and issues. Novels, short stories and poems are often good sources of knowledge. But more importantly, these literary forms have a very intensive effect on the minds of readers, because they inform readers about inner events or occurrences depicting the character and experiences of societies. And I think that Vietnamese literature includes many writers who are able to suggest this process of approximation of souls and hearts, and who can show German readers that although Vietnamese people live in a country far away from Germany, they are humans with the souls and hearts similar to German people

LE MINH KHUE ON GIESENFELD   [problem solving training - mba-mci-edu-vn-en -

I met Professor Giesenfeld at a time many foreigners were fleeing Vietnam because of the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) epidemic in Asia. People were so fearful. But a slim, tall man with grey hair and a professorial air arrived in Hanoi, calmly walked on the streets, met with acquaintances, and talked as if nothing bad was happening. That left a very positive impression on me and after subsequent meetings, my admiration and regard for him grew stronger and stronger. He does not follow Buddhism, but the Buddhist way of living exists in him naturally, and in his love for other people.   He has many Vietnamese

Ho Chi Minh airport transfer

some of whom have passed away, such as Nguyen Dinh Thi and Che Lan Vien. When he speaks about them, he still gets emotional. A few years after meeting Professor Giesenfeld, I got to meet Marianne Ngo, a beautiful, open and bright lady. Both of them seem to have the same interests. Watching them on the streets of Hanoi, I see that they stand out from other foreigners. Perhaps they don’t tend to be curious in the nosy way most foreigners are when they visit Vietnam for the first time. They are friendly and natural.

Both Professor Giesenfeld and Marianne Ngo are not well-off, financially. They could use their time to earn money, but instead, they translate Vietnamese literature, which is a very risky task. During their many visits to Vietnam, they always met with me and carefully asked me about details in my stories which they were not clear about. Vietnamese people these days tend to work quite carelessly so as to finish their work quickly, which irritates me a lot. When I saw the way Marianne Ngo and Professor Giesenfeld worked, I wished that my people had such a thorough method of working as the German people.   I believe that the German translation of my stories, done by Professor Giesenfeld and Marianne Ngo is wonderful, unlike the versions that have been translated into English. Both translators have invested a lot of