Egyptian Translator, writer and sinologist. Mai Ashour’s first translation work, How To Encourage Children To Study by Yang Xia, was published in 2012. She also translated Wang Guozhen’s poems into Arabic in 2016 and contemporary Chinese prose collection Plum in 2017, and both books have been published. In 2018, she gave a lecture about Lin Huiyin, and she also participated in The First Arab-Chinese Literature Forum. She has translated works of several Chinese writers, namely Zhou Guoping, Bi Shumin, Shi Tiesheng and Lin Huiyin, etc, which have been published by several Arabic newspapers and magazines.
How did you make the longterm research of Chinese language and culture as your career?
I decided to be a freelance translator on literature 6 years ago. Since then, it felt like walking through a door which I have spent years trotting down a long path to look for. Behind that door, I will find a dream, a future and a direction for me. So there won’t be frustration or disappointment. I will only move forward persistently with no turning back or hesitation.
Concerning the works you translated,what was your way of presentingChinese culture authentically andobjectively?
Literature is a mirror. It reflects thethoughts of the people and its society.My translation of the modern literaturewas published on many Arabian newspapersand magazines, providing theArabian readers an access to Chinese literatureand its development and changethrough different literature works.
I love writing myself. That’s why Istarted experiencing China’s change intentionallywhen I came to China. I tookphotos and wrote about China for theArabian readers.
As far as your personal researchwork is concerned, what do you thinkis the difficulty of your current work?
Translation is not merely aboutthe languages, but about convertingthe language into culture. Translatorsshould convey the thoughts to its readers.During my daily translation, I wouldsometimes run into the situation whereit concerns the Chinese culture. My translation cannot deliver precisenessand perfection if the language is onlyunderstood literally. To have an accurateunderstanding of words, it is primary togo deep into the Chinese culture, philosophy,history, society, thoughts and customs.Personally speaking, the best wayto pick up Chinese culture is to makemore Chinese friends. You talk to themand try to understand their daily life andtraditional thoughts. Thus, observingthe development and change of Chinesesociety. In addition, traveling among citiesand trying Chinese food also help. Afterencountering some barriers duringtranslation, I came to understand that the truth to surpass the language itselflies in its cultural background.
What are the challenges and difficultiesin aspects of translating andpublishing Chinese works in othercountries
I don’t think there will be anyproblems. The Arabian nations aredeveloping a big interest in Chineseliterature. I published many translationworks that are well-received among theArabians like Selected Poems of WangGuozhen.I think it’s important for a translatorto decide the works he wants to translate.For I believe that translation is nota tool. A translator should be a person,a person with itsown thinking and influence.Translators contribute to theircountry no less than writers, artists,poets or philosophers. So I made my decisionto focus mostly on the content ofthe works. I translate those that attractedme and brought me closer to Chinesethinking and culture.
What opportunities do youthink will be brought to China andyour country by the Belt and RoadInitiative?
Egypt and China are both nationswith splendid culture and greatcivilization. They have a long history offriendship and a profound and extensiveexchange in many aspects. I believe theculture exchange bears more variety forthat the thoughts shared between nationsare always more profound. Egyptand China will remain their exchange,cooperation and friendship under “TheBelt and Road” initiative.