Gabriella Bonino is an Italian sinologist and radio journalist, with 20 years (from 1989 to 2015) of experience at the Italian Department of China Radio International in Beijing. Her translations (Italian) include: The Shaanxi Province Museum (Terra-Cotta Warriors),Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio (by Pu Songling), The Secrets of Longevity,Contemporary Chinese Tales, Mister Frog (Chinese Minorities Tales). Editing works include: Chinese-Italian Dictionary of Classified Terms, Ciao China, Everyday Chinese,Chinese Recipes Guide, Easy Italian, and Appreciation of Poems of the Tang Dynasty.
Gabriella has published works like China in My Eyes (Chinese-Italian), and Discovering the Silk Road, from Caravans to High Speed Trains.
Q1 What motivated you to spend quite a long time in studying Chinese language and culture?
I started to study Chinese language and culture in the early 1980s in Italy, moving in January 1987 to the Beijing Language Institute, where I earned a Bachelor’s degree. Then I worked for 20 years in the Italian Service at China Radio International where I translated and polished news and features and hosted a longtime program, which received the prestigious China News Award in 2012. Now I’m teaching Broadcasting, in Chinese, at a Chinese University; it’s a great challenge for me, and also a new way to keep in touch with the up-and-coming generations of young Chinese.
Q2 In terms of your research on Chinese culture, how do you reflect China's change and development in recent years?
In 2010, I published a book in Beijing called China in my eyes, in Chinese and Italian; this was a collection of 96 of my radio programs from over the years. The book was very well-received by both Chinese and Italian readers for the reality of the stories and the love for the Chinese people which permeates all of my writings. In 2015, in my native country, Italy, I published a second book, in Italian, titled Discovering the Silk Road, from Caravans to High-Speed Trains. This book is a collection of historical and cultural studies about the Silk Road, complete with travelling stories from along the Chinese itineraries of the desert Silk Road. The book was appreciated by the Italian public for the huge amount of historical references on the Silk Road, giving readers a good foundation for understanding the“Belt and Road Initiative”.
Q3 What is your biggest challenge regarding to your study on Chinese culture and language?
I’m currently teaching Broadcasting (in Chinese) in a Chinese University, so my major challenge is the language of the new generations, including plenty of “WeChat” abbreviated terms and expressions found in video games. As I listen to the audio homework of my students, I can find a completely new world of language inside.
Q4 In terms of the Belt and Road Initiative, what challenges and opportunities do you think will be brought to China and your country?
On the Italian side, many scholars and entrepreneurs are studying every aspect of the Initiative, in the hope of getting involved in some way. For China, it’s a great way to improve her economy and soft power all over the world, introducing a peaceful vision of economic development, which is by its nature very different from the hard one advanced by some big Western countries.
Q5 What do you think are the challenges and difficulties facing China in aspects of translating and publishing Chinese works in foreign countries?
The major difficulty is the different historical and cultural background of the foreign countries, so that many Chinese works lack proper acceptance and understanding. Before introducing a new book or movie,I strongly recommend organizing a complete field preparation, with conferences and meetings with Chinese and foreign experts, writers and directors, to create the proper atmosphere. Otherwise, the Chinese work may be ignored or misunderstood.
Another difficulty is the correct choice of the texts to be translated and published for the foreign public. On the Chinese market you can find very interesting materials, but few of them are actually presented abroad. “Small” languages, such as Italian, are not often taken into consideration, so people like the Italians are not aware of the reality of the Chinese literature works.