Interview: Egypt's top translation center helps Arabs better understand China through translating books: chief

Source: Xinhua| 2019-11-23 00:58:24|Editor: ZD
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Egypt's National Center for Translation (NCT) director Anwar Mogheith speaks during an interview in Cairo, Egypt, on Nov. 17, 2019. NCT has been focusing on translating Chinese books into Arabic to help Egyptian and Arab readers better understand China due to the giant Asian country's growing global influence, the NCT chief said in a recent interview with Xinhua. (Xinhua/Wu Huiwo)

by Mahmoud Fouly

CAIRO, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) -- Egypt's National Center for Translation (NCT) has been focusing on translating Chinese books into Arabic to help Egyptian and Arab readers better understand China due to the giant Asian country's growing global influence, the NCT chief said in a recent interview with Xinhua.

NCT director Anwar Mogheith said that Arabs used to gain their knowledge of China through reading Chinese books translated into Arabic from medium languages like English, French and German.

"We faced the problem of the scarcity of Chinese books directly translated into Arabic while China's cultural influence is big in all fields including arts, literature, poetry, science, industry, development and others," the Egyptian chief translator said.

To overcome the shortage, the NCT has so far translated more than 30 books directly from Chinese into Arabic in all fields of knowledge.

"We also have about five or six translated Chinese books under print, and we have contracts for another 10 Chinese books to be translated soon," Mogheith said, adding that the center is planning to translate 20 Chinese books every year.

Established in 2006, the NCT is a non-profit institution that belongs to the Egyptian Ministry of Culture.

Mogheith explained that the number of books that the NCT translates is based on the global cultural weight of the nation to which the book belongs.

He lamented that the available Arabic translations of Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu's Book of the Way and Virtue, for instance, are translated from Germany and English.

"So, we planned to give the priority to Chinese books in our recommendation list and focus on translating directly from Chinese. To illustrate, if we have to translate one of three foreign books including a Chinese one, we choose the Chinese one," the NCT chief said.

Mogheith, also a philosophy professor at Egypt's Helwan University, pointed out that the center doesn't only translate Chinese books on economy and development, but also books on Chinese poetry and literature, so to let Arab readers know more about the Chinese people and their values.

He added that the NCT cares about translating more Chinese books on literature because a lot of Arab readers are eager to learn about Chinese literature.

"We translated the Chinese novel Red Sorghum before its author Mo Yan won Nobel Prize in literature. So, we know very well how significant the Chinese works we translate into Arabic are," said the NCT director.

Among the Chinese books translated into Arabic by the NCT include The History of Development of Chinese Thought, Chinese Transformative Industries, The Development of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, as well as Selection of Tang Dynasty Poetry, according to Mogheith.

The NCT also cooperates with the Cairo branch of Wisdom House for Cultural Industries, a Chinese-Egyptian company whose activities include publishing translated books from Chinese into Arabic and vice versa.

"The NCT has signed a protocol with Wisdom House to translate the three-volume book History of Chinese Literature. We welcome cooperation with Wisdom House and any other publishing houses that would like to translate Chinese books into Arabic," Mogheith said.

The NCT doesn't only translate books, it also holds symposiums to discusses their content by gathering the authors, translators and readers.

The NCT also holds training courses for its translators to make sure their translations are professional.

In cooperation with the Chinese Cultural Center in Cairo (CCC), the NCT launched in mid-June a competition for translating a Chinese novel into Arabic by junior translators to provide talented ones with a good opportunity to gain experience and win a prize at the same time.

"The contest jointly held with the CCC is a win-win situation, as China would like to promote its true image through translated books and we would like to know more about China and prepare professional translators of Chinese books," Mogheith said.

The NCT chief noted that his center and the CCC agreed to hold the translation race annually to increase the number of Chinese books translated into Arabic and train more professional Chinese-Arabic translators.

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