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A brief panoramic revision of latinamerican Chinese to Spanish translators

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A brief panoramic revision of Latin American Chinese to Spanish literary translators
  Martínez González 1 Adriana Martínez González Young Sinologists Tour 2017 Chinese Ministry of Culture February 2017 A brief panoramic revision of Latin American Chinese to Spanish literary translators Keywords: Chinese/Spanish literary translation, Historical panorama, Translation studies The history of Chinese to Spanish literary translation is rather short. Most direct translations in this particular combination have been carried out either by native Chinese speakers or by Spanish nationals. This is due to the fact that the People´s Republic of China has a clear advantage in terms of the number of hispanists 1 , while Spain leads the Spanish speaking world in terms of the number of institutions where Chinese translation studies can be found. As of February 2018, the only country in Latin America with a long history of a training facility devoted to sinology is College of Mexico. It is also the only center to have a relatively continuous output of Chinese literature in translation. There are other centers dedicated to the study of sinology across the continent, such as Center of African and Asian Studies in Mérida, Venezuela and Cechimex (Center of Chinese Studies in Mexico) in UNAM, Mexico. Their research, however, is mainly focused on politics and economy so to this day they have yet to 1  Though Spanish language faculties in China are also rather recent (Spanish clases  began formally in China in 1952), the country has now a large number of experts in  both Spanish language and literature.  Martínez González 2  publish Chinese to Spanish literay translations. Nonwithstanding all the above, there have been several latinamerican translators who have produced a corpus of translations that cover both classical Chinese literature and contemporary works. To this day, Latin American literary translators working from Chinese to Spanish lack a clear knowledge of the history of those who preceded them and who their contemporary colleages are. This is due to several factors, the first one being that published works have a hard time crossing borders, as publishing houses don´t always have the capacity to comply with export regulations, the second one being that some translators have a relatively limited  presence in social media and on the internet, so their work is more difficult to find, both for the common reader as well as for the academic specialist. There are, then, various gaps of information yet to be filled in. On the one hand, Sinology studies in Latin America, specially those pertaining to Literature are not very numerous, on the other hand, Latin American translators lack a sense of identity as a group and are only nowadays starting to write their own history: “ Latin America´s translation legacy is still to this day prac tically unknown and ignored” (Montoya 16). It is therefore the purpose of this essay to outline a brief panoramic vision of Latin American literary translators who produce direct Chinese to Spanish translations. This work has limited the category “Latin  A merican translators” to native Spanish speakers born inside the region who have published two or more books in direct translation from Mandarin Chinese to Spanish. Also taken into account for this article is to have some sort of record of the specific difficulties faced in the course of this work. This essay will review the translator´s educational background, study of Chinese language, circumstances in which the work has been written, as well as the literary genres and the specific texts produced. Lastly, there will be an overall  Martínez González 3 evaluation to see if they share a vision of their task or if they have clearly marked individual postures. It is worth noting that because of the lack of previous similar works, writing this article has posed certain difficulties. As has already been noted, information is fragmented. Most of the available data has not been compiled by sinologists or by academics specializing in literary translation. There is an abundance of press interviews, some of them lacking in accuracy. There are also numerous informal profiles that  provide contradictory information. For the above reasons, direct quotes from the translators have been prioritized. It goes without saying that this is nothing but a brief sketch of a vast panorama. The author welcomes details and clarification for further  publications. The first to head this study is Peruvian Guillermo Alejandro Dañino Ribatto,  born in Trujillo on December 2, 1929 into a wealthy merchant family, the youngest of 14 children. When he was 8 years old his recently widowed mother moved her numerous brood to Lima. He then began attending a religious school led by the Association of Christian Brothers. At 17 years old he was formally accepted as a member of the Congregation of Brothers of La Salle. From the earliest of times he was interested in humanities. He self-taught himself English, French and Italian. His superiors sent to him to Arequipa to train to become a religious educator. His higher education was stalled because other candidates were favored at his expense. At some  point this sunk him into a deep depression that kept him in bed for an entire year. He was later granted consent to continue his studies and graduated at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru. He read linguistics and semiotics and obtained his Ph.D at the  Martínez González 4 School of Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences in Paris. Other than the occasional reading of some Chinese poetry and the acquaintance of some students of Chinese descent 2  whilst teaching at the National University of San Marcos, he spent half his life without sparing much thought for China. In 1979, a call was put through to him to attend a meeting at the Chinese embassy. He was there invited to teach Spanish for a  period of two years at Nanjing University. He flew to Beijing the very day he turned fifty years old without any previous knowledge of the language : “The most spoken tongue in the world, the most ancient one in History and  –  to me- the most impenetrable, kilometric and attractive in the universe ” (Dañino) . On the way to the Chinese capital he  passed Belgrade, met a Chinese gentleman and learnt some basic words. Upon arriving at Beijing airport he set his mind on learning Chinese : “I supposed and I keep thinking that I had a long road (forged by tenacity and patience) up ahead.  A journey of a thousand miles begins by a simple step.  I took this step without knowing where I was headed, nor the effort it would requiere, but anticipating the rewards that awaited me were well worthy of the work I had set myself out to do” (Dañino).  He found himself immerse amidst a people wearing the mandatory blue Mao sui t. Deng Xiaoping’s Opening and Reform policy had barely just begun and was marginally apparent in Chinese people’s lives. The streets were still dominated by bicycles and he rode one to discover Nanjing. He was warmly welcomed by his students, who visited him during the afternoons to keep him from loneliness. He led a privileged existence at the home of another profesor. He was provided with a chauffeur, a tourist guide and a cook to tend to his needs. He was lavishly dined and taken to multiple places of historical importance, accompanied by interpreters who responded to his keen observations and 2   As of 2018, the Chinese community in Peru is the largest of it´s kind in Latin America. They constitute an important part of Peruvian society, with their own set of institutions , traditions and contributions to the rest of the country’s society .    Martínez González 5 questions. He took note of all that was said to him and described these first experiences in the book China, a Fascinating and Misterious Country.  He was given the Chinese name 吉 叶 墨 , an auspicious sign that has accompanied him in the latter part of his existence and that foreshadowed his career as a writer. At the end of the two-year contract he had already developed a profound liking of his host country, thus extending his stay for an aditional four years at the same institution teaching Literature, Linguistics and General Culture to 15 Chinese professors of the Department of Spanish Language, as well as Speaking, Translation and Grammar to undergraduates. During this time he studied Chinese on his own, while traveling extensively throughout the country (out of a total of 34 provinces he visited 33). Two factors played a key role in his decision to remain in China for several decades: “First and foremost, the warmth he found in Chinese  people; secondly, the rich vastness of Chinese culture” (Navarro). In 1980 a film crew showed up at Nanjing University looking for foreigners to volunteer as actors for a film where the action was set in Madrid. The professor made his debut in what would later be detailed in the memoir entitled Who am I now? Experiences of a  Peruvian actor in China . As one of the first foreigners featured in Chinese films he is still regularly stopped and asked for autographs while in China. In adittion to movies he  performed in short films, documentaries and soap operas. In 1985, whilst living at The Great Bell Temple Monastery Hotel in Beijing, the doorman gifted him with a short collection of Chinese poetry written in Chinese characters and pinyin. His training as a linguist helped him decipher the poems. Thus began his work as a translator of Chinese literature. The majority of his oeuvre is centered around the translation of verse because “I like poetry, (particularly) this type that conveys peace, solidarity, profound feelings for humanity, love of Nature, transcendency, etc. I believe these poems are well worth  being known, particularly in the poetic form that they were being  phrased” ( Ciurlizza).
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