Kyiv conference focuses on importance of translation, interpretation
by Iryna Kovalska
KYIV - Literary translation has always played a very important role in the cultural life of Ukrainians. In fact, it is a factor in nation-building. Almost all major Ukrainian writers have also been translators, being well aware that cultural isolation has always been dangerous.
Thus, translators have been the enlighteners of their downtrodden people and fighters for their better life, having chosen literary translation as a weapon side by side with their original creativity. After the second world war - owing to the brilliant school of Ukrainian literary translation - Ukrainian translated literature developed as a kind of compensation for Ukrainian original literature whose development was being thwarted. It has also become a treasure-trove as an effective medium for creating, collecting and preserving expressive means (lexical, prosodical, structural), which now may be widely used by Ukrainian authors.
Recently the importance of training translators and interpreters became evident in Ukraine. The country needs highly qualified interpreters and translators for the United Nations, UNESCO, Council of Europe, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, for embassies and a host of other organizations in Ukraine and throughout the world.
Thus, discussing various problems of translation and interpreting became an urgent need in Ukraine. On May 29-30, Taras Shevchenko State University in Kyiv hosted the international conference "Translation on the Threshold of the XXI Century: History, Theory, Methods" (organized by the Common European Project TEMPUS - TACIS 85422-94: Ukraine - Spain - France - Italy). The program included over 80 reports, which covered various problems of modern translation studies.
Issues in the history of translation were highlighted by Prof. Oleksander Cherednychenko, who gave a general overview of the development of literary translation in Ukraine and defined the main directions of Ukrainian translation studies, while Prof. Roksoliana Zorivchak discussed the legacy of Hryhoriy Kochur as a translator and a translation studies researcher. Among other speakers, Dr. Orest Zemlianyi spoke about Ukrainian translations of Irish literature.
The researchers accentuated the role of translation as a factor important to the development of intercultural communication. Thus, Prof. Maryna Novykova underlined that translation is part of the spiritual legacy of a nation, a way of thinking that is developed in constant contact with other nations.
The majority of the speakers dealt with the theory of translation, suggesting various approaches to the translation norm, methods of research, understanding the nature of the literary translation, etc.
Prof. Efim Etkind - not only a brilliant researcher but a fighter for human rights as well - shared his views concerning the notion of "metatranslation." According to the researcher, the latter is an umbrella term for all texts presented as translations but actually created as something different (e.g., free rendering, transfusion, etc.). Thus, the word "translation" does not cover all the diverse types of contacts between language and literature.
One of Prof. Etkind's studies is titled "Poeziya i Perevod" ("Poetry and Translation"), but he considers that the German version "Dichtung and Nachdichtung" reflects the essence of this notion, better introducing the element of secondary creativity, and the involvement of a co-creator. Prof. Etkind analyzed different levels and types of metatranslation, providing examples from German, Italian and English literatures as interpreted by Russian classical writers.
Methods of teaching interpreting and translating were discussed by Ion Chobanu, Nelli Kalustova, Zenoviy Partyko, Eduard Skorokhodko and many other researchers. In his report on "Information Technologies in Translators' Training," Prof. Viacheslav Karaban stressed the necessity of updating the process of translators' training, helping them to develop computer skills, and teaching them how to use software and the Internet.
The participants of the conference had ample opportunity to listen to the outstanding Ukrainian lexicographer Mykhailo Balla, who spoke about his experience in compiling a great English-Ukrainian dictionary. The new two-volume edition comprising about 120,000 words was published in Kyiv in 1996. It is an important contribution to Ukrainian lexicography.
The first (rather small) English-Ukrainian dictionaries were published in Canada in the 1920s and 1930s. The first rather substantial English-Ukrainian dictionary (comprising 40,000 words) appeared in 1946. Its compiler, Mykhailo Podvezko, continued his lexicographic research in cooperation with Mr. Balla. In 1974 they produced a bigger English-Ukrainian dictionary (about 65,000 words).
According to Mr. Balla, he started working on the newest edition of the dictionary almost immediately after 1974. The 1996 edition can be characterized as more convenient for users: proper names and geographical names are not given in the appendices but along with common words in alphabetical order; each derived word is supplied with a translation and listed as a separate item.
The Kyiv conference contributed to the establishment of contacts among researchers in translation studies, helping them exchange opinions and share their experience. Conference participants passed a resolution on the need to organize a federation of translators and interpreters in Ukraine.
The experience of such federations in other countries shows that such a body would be able to perform a number of significant functions: to arrange forums for discussions on controversial subjects and research; to protect the rights and privileges of translators and interpreters; to represent them at international conferences and seminars; to gain recognition for the important role translators play in modern Ukraine; to create more appreciation for the field of translation; and to improve the quality of translations.
The resolution was passed unanimously. Thus, one can expect that the All-Ukrainian Federation of Translators and Interpreters will soon become reality, and that through the organization Ukraine's professionals will join the International Federation of Translators, uniting national societies of translators into a single international body.
Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, August 17, 1997, No. 33, Vol. LXV
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