Google Translate says 上海外国语大学 means Shanghai International Studies University. Shouldn't it mean Shanghai Foreign Languages University?


3 Answers 3


The official site of 上海外国语大学 has its English name as “Shanghai International Studies University”

Translation of proper names does not always follow normal translation rules.

  • so a university doesn't know how translate?
    – Redwood
    Jan 19, 2021 at 6:25
  • 2
    Perhaps "Foreign Languages University" is too confining in scope for a university? I mean how could a university just teaches foreign languages? So, "International Studies" could encompass other areas of study, like politics, socio-economics, even jounalism as well as foreign languages? Jan 19, 2021 at 7:04
  • BTW, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, (MIT), doesn't just offer programs in science & technology alone but the humanities, history, as well as linguistics with philosophy, music and theater arts. No one has said MIT has mislabelled itself. Jan 19, 2021 at 9:58
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    Many Chinese-English names don't match up 1:1, it's not at all surprising that they aren't directly translated from one language to the other.
    – Mou某
    Jan 19, 2021 at 14:52
  • @WayneCheah A Student from sjtu suggests it rename to Shanghai Wai Guo Yu University, So it will be translated correctly. :)
    – tsh
    Jan 20, 2021 at 6:34

Apparently, now the department, schools, etc. specialized in foreign language teaching are translated by International Studies. For instance, the Zhejiang University's school specialized in foreign language teaching is named School of International Studies. It might be related to the fact that not only foreign languages per se are taught, but also foreign literature, politics, etc.


Google translate is not wrong in translation.
It just goes for general translation rather than proper nouns (as @fefe mentioned).
And this is always not a simple translation when something comes to historical.

From 上海外国语大学-wiki, you'll see the chinese name was given in 1956 exactly for "learning foreign language" only, but it expanded the scope of education in 1980s.


Apparently, there was no English name officially given until 1985, check second paragraph "历史承传" on SISU website.

1985年经教育部批准,学校英文校名确定为“Shanghai International Studies University”(缩写为“SISU”),并于1994年正式更名为“上海外国语大学”。

In general, Chinese universities tend to keep the chinese name so as to preserve the history behind (if you could understand the paragraph title mentioned before, "历史承传").
While the English name was given afterwards based on the new circumstances at that time (like the extended edu scope, the new global era or the future influence).

So, again, it is NOT a simple translation, the translation doesn't match because of the history.

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