Today, thousands of sinologists are active in their special expertise in relation to Chinese culture, promoting the mutual understanding and recognition of western countries, and even the world. We put our eyes on 21 sinologists, discovering their personal stories with China.



  Youseff Leonardo Carnevali Jaimes


  Youseff Leonardo Carnevali Jaimes is a Venezuelan translator and academician specialized in Sino-Latin American cultural relations, researcher from Los Andes University Center for the Study of Africa, Asia and Latin America. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Linguistics at Tsinghua University. Mr. Carnevali’s research is focused on the normativity of Spanish in the Sino-Latin American translation process. Mr. Carnevali’s academic background mainly covers areas like cultural, political, economic, and legal translation.


  Please share your stories between you and China.

  During my childhood in the eighties and nineties, many Chinese people went to Latin America to open mainly family business such as grocery stores and restaurants. That was the modest beginning of the Sino-Latin American relations. In those establishments, you could find shining and dazzling adornments, all was beautifully decorated with traditional Chinese elements as the dragon and the Chinese traditional paintings; those were places of fantasy, places that stimulated the imagination. Nevertheless, it was when contemplating the profound and enigmatic Chinese writing on those adornments and paintings that made me realized the otherness of the Chinese culture. This is the reason that made me choose the path I’m undertaking now, to try to elucidate the unintelligible wisdom that is veiled by the pleasing visual aesthetics of Chinese writing. For Latin American people, the Chinese scripture still being illegible, this is the linguistic Great Wall for the Sino-Latin American translation process.


  Could you please tell us when and how you started your Chinese journey?

  I always have a keen interest in learning languages, history and philosophy. When I was a teenager, I wanted to learn Chinese but in my country there was any Confucius Institute. Nowadays, it has been inaugurated only one Confucius Institute in Caracas (Venezuela’s capital city). So, during those years I mainly learned about Chinese history and culture via books written in Spanish. My Chinese language training started when I came to China in 2012.


  How did you objectively show the readers the real Chinese culture in your work?

  Chinese Civilization possesses a transcendental book called I Ching or Book of Changes, the 17 suí(隨) and 18 gǔ (蠱) hexagrams in it represent the Chinese society cycle of prosperity and decay. The conceptions incarnated in those characters show that the ancient Chinese people pondered cosmology as a harmonious cycle alternating between corruption and prosperity. Carl Jung in his foreword to the English edition of the I Ching tells us that Ancient Chinese mind operated under the principle of synchronicity that takes the coincidence of events in space and time as meaning something more than mere chance. In a like manner, The Buddhist monkZan Ning (赞宁) relates the second lexeme yì (译) of the Chinese word for translation fānyì (翻译) with the homophone yì (易) that is the second lexeme of the Chinese title for the I Ching zhouyi (周易). According to Zan Ning, to translate 译(yì) means 易(yì); to translate is to transubstantiate, to merge oneself with the other, the mutation is the law of nature as reflected in the alternation process between gǔ (蠱) and suí (隨), to live in harmony with the mutation process. Hence, reality is always changing, we can only glimpse or partially discern Chinese culture and that discernment will alter with the ineludible passing of time. I think we, as the Book of Changes points, can aspire to synchronize the many voices of the cultures that compose Chinese Civilization and the myriad of perceptions that foreign cultures have on them. We can only harmonize(synchronize)the many voices in the Sino-foreign dialogue. To the best of my knowledge, there is not a real version or perception of a culture but many.

  So far I have published two articles related to the Sino-Latin American translation process and publishing irrigation channels:“The Pacific Silk Road’s Renaissance via the Discourse Analysis in the Sino-Latin American Translation Process” and “The Sino-Latin American Dialogue Does Not Require Intermediaries: The Intromission of Spanish Institution in Latin American International Relations” (both published in Chinese). In those articles, I always have in mind the aphorisms learned in those venerable Chinese books.  


  Concerning your current study on Chinese culture and language, what are the difficulties and challenges?

  Communication channels are difficult to establish, to understand the other, its culture(s) and conciliate it with you and your own culture(s) in order to transcend. Those are the challenges in the Sino-Latin American translation and publishing process.


  What are the challenges and difficulties in aspects of translating and publishing Chinese works in other countries.

  I will address only the Sino-Latin American cooperation case of which I’m acquainted with. My region is striving to make known its culture within China and Asia. Certainly, there are some barriers and obstacles that presently are difficult to surmount such as the language barrier (Chinese language is the Great Wall separating the Sino-Latin American dialogue) and interferences of other regions in that dialogue under the pretext of cultural and linguistic resembles which in fact is a neocolonialist strategy with the hope of establishing a soft power over Latin America so to have a pecuniary retribution for their services as intermediaries. My region does not count with the vast monetary resources that Spain’s publishing houses have and this fact has led the Sino-Latin American translation and publishing process to mainly rely on Spain. Presently, we are trying to cease with that dependency since it has been noticed there is an attempt by Spain to monopolize the Chinese-Spanish languages translating and publishing cooperation. Spanish is a pluricentric language owned by more than 20 nations in three continents. We are creating our own publishing houses and forming our own translators so the melody and rhythm of Latin American Spanish be present in this dialogue. Surely, it will be an arduous task since we Latin Americans are commencing this endeavor but we must not only look for an immaculate translation (les belles infidels) from the syntactical point of view that other regions might offer (Spain) but to look for an honest reflection of the comprehension level that Latin America has on Chinese literature and its capacity to render it in those translations. Translation is not only to convey meaning from source to target language in flawless sentences and paragraphs, but also to discover the similitude and differences (the otherness) between the Sino-Latin cultures in the translation process. I think that that is the most important to achieve in this cooperation project. 


  What opportunities do you think will be brought to China and your country by the Belt and Road Initiative?

  The opportunities will be immense. There still being many prejudices, some erroneous conceptions and stereotypes in the psyche of our cultures about one another, this road will provide a communication channel were those misconceptions will be discussed and overcome, from there we can consolidate the Chinese initiative for the cooperation with Latin America.