For any novels, a glossary is need, but for some novels a bit of extra informations is more necessary than a glossary. For Record of Washed Grievances, the extra informations will be the focus on this page instead of the glossary which would be update once in a while.
Why focusing on the extra informations of RoWG instead of the glossary?
There are quite a few reasons which can be sum up into this :
This is a novel that happen in some unknown past of a possible parallel world, but reused a lot of the ancient China’s elements, terms and culture.
Thus, you understand why I put footnotes and add this page. Besides, I didn’t want the energy I put into researching all of this for the sake of translating the story better to be a waste. What more, it could be nice to share new knowledge with anyone who is interest.
One of the hurdles of most chinese translators. Some people will leave it as pinyin some will try to find an equivalent in english words. I’m the latter one. It took me more time finding english equivalent than to actually translate, but lo and behold, my new partner Wikipedia had shown me a non-exhaustive, but quite useful list of ancient chinese honorifics and their english equivalent. I’m using this list as a reference from now on, although I won’t follow it to the letter. It will depend on the context of the translations.
Here’s the link : chinese honorifics on Wikipedia
Government, Ranks and Titles
This part is one of the most interesting things that I need to research on in order to make some sense out of the interactions between all the characters. As you mostly suspect, equity and equal are not exactly the highlight in the interactions between different characters due to the socio-cultural and socio-political background of the story which is a melting pot of different kind of dynasties. It will probably clarify with the later chapters or not.
Anyway, I did try to make sense out of the Government’s structure in this story and the closest that made sense is Three Departments and Six Ministries.
To make it more easy to understand, I’ll use Lou Xiyan’s title as the core of the explanation.
The chinese characters for Lou Xiyan’s title is 丞相 (chéng xiàng) which referred to the title of Chancellor or Prime Minister because he’s the only person who can actually oversee more than one ministries in that structure. Thus, the title of the people around him will be readjust following this structure for now.
As for his rank, I suppose it’s a rank One on Nine rank since Qilin are used for rank One. Although in real history it’s only use for Military ranks in late Qing.
For more informations on the ranks and grades, click here.
That pdf also has an interesting section about problem with translations and the need to readjust according to the context.
Extra facts : If we use a modern dictionary or most dictionaries to look up丞相, we find the definitions of Prime Minister or most senior minister of many kingdoms or dynasties (with varying roles). Prime Minister is not an inaccurate term since it can be seen in different translations and official sources. Personally, I prefer to use the latter definition which allow me more freedom and don’t you agree that Chancellor gave it a more olden times flavour and gives the impression of absolute authority after the Emperor?
The Jiang Hu
In this glossary, I’m also adding the pronunciation of each name which are link to MDBG.net, a very good free online chinese-english dictionary.
By the way, I don’t like changing names into english, so I will use pinyin for names of place and characters and some other important terms that are better kept in pinyin.
Xue Xianxin (薛娴心- ) : The concubine of Lou Xiyan’s father
Yang Mu ( ) : An imperial physician of Qiong Yue
Qi Tianyu (齐天宇 -) : Lou Xiyan’s friend
Bei Qi (北齐-Běi Qí) : A vassal country of Qiong Yue
Lan Yue House (揽月楼 – ) : Where Lou Xiyan lived in his residence
Jiang Hu (江湖 – Jiāng hú) : It’s referred to the underworld (assassins, secret societies, etc.).