The cultural interplay between China and the West: from Marco Polo to Matteo Ricci

Prof. Diego Poli
(University of Macerata)

DATE: 2nd September 2019
TIME: 9:00 -10:30 pm
LOCATION: Centro Linguistico di Ateneo, UniPd

How heavy is the weight of Matthew (Matteo) Ricci in Chinese culture or, in other words, did the Italian Reniassance scholar Matthew (Matteo) Ricci succeed in his attempt to be the Chinese Literatus Li Madou? The crucial question begins with the language competence Ricci and the Fathers of his mission acquired in Mandarin and continues with the double-faced encounter on the ground of human understanding and religious persuasion. This paper aims at outlining some of the basic questions posited by the first encounter between West and East, in order to make up a cross-cultural dialogue involving philosophical, scientific and religious matters. I will focus upon: – the newly experimented inculturative policy aimed at persuading the Chinese literati about the feasibility of an intercultural exchange; – the viability of a linguistic experimentation, through which the commuting of mutual knowledges could be tried; – the relationship between the apostolic message and the three religions of China.

Keywords: Cultures in contact; Renaissance and Confucius; Western and Eastern studies.

Prof. Diego Poli was researcher at CNR in Rome (1973-75), then he has been professor of “Glottologia e linguistica” (Historical and general linguistics) at the University of Macerata:  lecturer (197681), associated (19821986) and full professor since 1986.

He was Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Macerata in the period 1990/96; he is now Head of the Department of Linguistics, Literary Studies and Philology (DIPRI).

He was President’s Delegate for Local Affairs, member of the Evaluation Committee at the University of Macerata and, at present, President of the Evaluation Committee at the University for Foreigners of Perugia.

He is member – at present the Coordinator – of the Committee for the PhD in “Linguistic History of Eurasia” (based in Macerata) He is also member of the Committee for the PhD in “Linguistics and history of the linguistic thought”  established by the Italian Institute for Human Sciences (Firenze-Napoli).

He was the Italian member of the UNESCO Committee for Celtic Studies, and has  been membre d’honneur of the “Société belge d’études celtiques” since 1995.

He has been the general editor of the series “Quaderni Linguistici e Filologici”, published by the former  Institute of Historical Linguistics at the University of Macerata, now continued as “Quaderni linguistici, letterari e filologici”, published by the Department (EUM = Macerata University Press). He is also editor of the series “Episteme” (Publisher il Calamo, Rome), and of the journal “Rivista Italiana di Linguistica e di Dialettologia” (Publisher Fabrizio Serra, Pisa and Rome).

He was the Coordinator of the Research Project of National Interest (PRIN 2003-05) concerning “Specialized Lexica and Metalanguages: implementation on the web”. He was the responsible for the CIPE Project (36/2002) “Languages for special purposes for foreign trade”.

He was member of the Executive Committee of the Italian Society of Historical Linguistics (SIG), Secretary thereof for the periods 1994/96 and 1996/98 and its President for 2001/02.

He organized several congresses, such as: “Culture in Cesar” (1990), “A pastoral of  communication” (1996), “The battle of Sentinum” (1998), “Queen Christina of Sweden and the culture of Academies” (2003), “Lexicology and metalanguage” (2005), “Annibal Caro 500 years after his birth” (2007). At the University of Macerata he organized two official congresses of the Italian Society of Historical Linguistics (in 1992 and 2000).

His research has been directed towards the historical linguistics  (especially Classic, Celtic and Germanic), etymology, rhetoric, Latin language and grammar, history of English, Old Norse, phonetics and phonology, history of linguistics, history of grammar in the Middle Age, anthropological  linguistics. He also studied the linguistic speculation in Dante Alighieri, Annibal Caro and Giacomo Leopardi and deepened linguistic issues in the speculative thought of the Society of Jesus in XVI-XVIII centuries.

He was visiting professor at the École pratique des hautes études at Sorbonne, Paris, in Spring 2007 and again in 2009.

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