The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China

May 17, 2019 | Business, Case studies, First Edition Translations, Miscellaneous, Translation

Arcturus - Ancient ChinaChinese is one of our most popular languages at First Edition: every year we handle hundreds of Chinese translation projects, both from and into Simplified and Traditional Chinese, ranging from medical information leaflets and technical manuals to museum guides and children’s books. While we could say without exaggeration that we work with Chinese on a daily basis, when Arcturus Publishing’s new Chinese translation request came in on a sunny afternoon, we were a bit surprised.

Why? Because it was for a set of ancient documents written in Classical Chinese!

Arcturus was looking for a translation partner to provide a high quality, accurate English translation of an anthology of old military texts called The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China. This collection of Chinese essays on the art of war is truly an ancient one, having been finalised and canonised during the reign of the Song dynasty in the 11th century. This meant that the language was well… a bit old fashioned. (Just imagine reading Beowulf in Old English!)
As they had worked with First Edition before, Arcturus’s team approached us to see if we were up to the challenge of preparing the translations of these old texts – within a tight deadline.

And we were!

Isabelle, who was responsible for this extraordinary project at First Edition’s side, set out to put together a specialised team who could go into battle against these complicated Classical Chinese military documents. As Arcturus “wanted to make the text as accessible as possible for the modern reader, while still remaining faithful to the meaning of the original classical Chinese text,” Isabelle knew that the linguists working on this project would not only have to be excellent translators but they also needed to be familiar with Classical Chinese and had to have expert historical knowledge about Medieval China.

After discussing several options with Arcturus, Isabelle decided that the best approach for this project was to build up a team of academics with vast translation experience. She set out to look for the best linguists for Arcturus, and in the end she managed to put together a team of three academics for this project who were familiar with Classical Chinese texts both as scholars and as translators.

As the final deadline was fast approaching, she made sure that the translators progressed with their work as planned, checking up with them regularly, providing help to them as and when needed, so that she could hand over the translations to Arcturus’s internal editor within the set deadline.

“First Edition made a great contribution towards this project and did a good job of meeting this challenge, particularly given the difficulties associated with translating the original text,” says John Turing, Isabelle’s contact at Arcturus. “We would be happy to recommend First Edition to others.”

This unique book – published as a decorative gift book with its own lovely box – has been doing well in bookshops and online. If you’d like to have your own or would like to gift this lovely publication to someone, you can get a copy of the book on Amazon.

If you’d like to find out more about how we looked after this special project or would like to have some information on how we can help you with your own unique translation project, get in touch with us by calling our office at 01223 356 733 or by emailing us at

If you’d like to check out Arcturus Publishing and their impressive list of books, head on to their website at