Kick-off Event in Prague


On the 18th of April 2013 the festive opening of the TransStar Europa project took place at the Philosophical Faculty of the Charles University in Prague, which was organized by both Czech partners of the project: the Institute for Germanic Studies of the Charles University and the Collegium Bohemicum. Štěpán Zbytovský, who opened the preliminary program of the evening, briefly introduced the entire project. Then the lector, Radovan Charvát, spoke about his impressions and experiences with the first workshop which had taken place at the beginning of the month in the Polish city of Łódź. He expressed his great satisfaction with respect to the cooperation within the group, which “harmonized” rather quickly. He also found the discussion on the translation of two paragraphs of Grass’ Tin Drum, which all had tried to translate, specifically with participants translating into Slovenian and Polish very interesting. As the second guest of the Prague event the chair of the Czech Translation Association (Obec překladatelů), Ms. Hana Linhartová, spoke, who introduced this umbrella organization of literary translators with respect to those beginning in the profession: the association organizes amongst others also workshops and a competition for up-and-coming translators, awards a variety of prizes including an “anti-prize” for bad translations – all with the goal of adhering to a certain standard of literary translation in the Czech Republic. Ms. Linhartová however also pointed to the negative aspects of translation work in the Czech Republic which unfortunately until now does not have a very good position “on the market”. Mr. Vratislav Jiljí Slezák was the last to speak, who is considered to be one of the best contemporary translators from German into Czech (Hermann Hesse, Thomas Mann, Heinrich Böll and many more). His fascinating talk on professional translating, with numerous concrete examples, was followed by an audience primarily consisting of students with great attentiveness. The subsequent lively discussion with all three guests demonstrated that the audience had great interest in the topic.

Radio Vltava reported the following about the event and on the project:

Here are some photos of the evening.



Workshop in Łódź

In Łódź (05 – 07 April 2013) the working groups German-Slovenian (workshop leadership: Amalija Maček), German-Czech (workshop leadership: Radovan Charvát) and German-Polish (workshop leadership: Sława Lisiecka).

Excerpt from the workshop report by Amalija Maček (German-Slovenian)

After a round of introductions, all three groups worked on a translation of the first two paragraphs of Günther Grass’ Blechtrommel [Tin Drum] into the respective language. What at first seemed to be not too much text turned out to be a true challenge. In very little time the participants developed very good suggestions. We discussed archaic words, double meanings (spregledati in German can take on the meaning of durchschauen [see through] or übersehen [overlook/ignore]) and the picture of the one eye. A longer discussion was ignited by the word Knotengebilde [chiastic structure] whereby there were many different suggestions (vozlovje, tvorba, skulptura, kompozicija). We decided on the word tvorba since it has something organic which can be associated to cartilage and other medical expressions. It was especially joyous that the participants noticed deviations from the formal language and rhythmic elements of the original.

In the German-Slovenian workshop participants continued to work on the translation of the text Saltwater by Almut Sandig. Participants really enjoyed the text and also prepared very good translations at home. In the course of the work we discovered many entanglements, repetitions and symbols whereupon one could feel the delight in translating. With time we actually continued to like the text even better. There were a few difficult passages where we were not quite happy with the results.

Our work was very productive, we worked through the text sentence for sentence and discussed cars, hair, negative insinuations, estrangement in the family, the ancestry of the father and so on, but also general translational issues such as how far one can go when translating colloquialisms, how to translate dialogues that are not set in quotation marks, how one can make language more alive and how one can insert repetitions or alliterations at the right spot and avoid them at other spots.

Here are some photos.


Workshop in Kiev

In Kiev (05 – 07 April 2013) the working groups German-Coratian (workshop leadership: Andy Jelčić), German-Ukrainian (workshop leadership: Yurko Prokhasko) and Ukrainian-German (workshop leadership: Claudia Dathe).

Workshop report by Claudia Dathe (Ukrainian-German)

Translations begin

The Kievan translation workshop stared with the conjoint work of the German-Croatian, the German-Ukrainian and Ukrainian-German groups. Together with the workshop leaders Yurko Prokhasko, Andy Jelčić and Claudia Dathe participants analyzed the text Salzwasser [Saltwater] by Ulrike Almut Sandig. At the center of attention of  analysis was the question which information about the protagonists, their surroundings and their life constellation can be extracted from the text and how this information in the mind of the translator expands into perceptions and associations and ultimately (can) flow into the translation in the steps that follow.

The Ukrainian-German workshop under the leadership of Claudia Dathe concerned itself with the translation of essays of the Ukrainian contemporary author Yurko Izdryk. In his volume of essays entitled Der 2-Gigabyte-Stick [The Two-Gigabyte Stick] Izdryk assembles amongst others texts on the West Ukrainian cities of Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk which were the object of translation. In the discussion on the translation one of the main questions was how the intimate knowledge of the West Ukrainian cities, which the author without doubt shares with many readers of the original text, can be brought closer to a German-language readership which lacks this knowledge.


Here are some photos.


Workshop in Tübingen

The working groups Slovenian-German, Czech-German, Croatian-German and Polish-German meet in Tübingen (05 – 07 April 2013). In the course of three days the participants will work with the workshop leader within their language group but also with the other participating language groups. In the shared working phases participants will consider trans-linguistic and -cultural issues with respect to literary translation, the insights of which will in turn flow into their own translation work. One of the primary goals is to identify culturally specific approaches toward translation and learn from the different experiences.

In the working group Slovenian-German, the workshop leader Daniela Kocmut will work with workshop participants on a text by the Slovenian contemporary author Marusha Krese amongst others.

In the Croatian-German group Matthias Jacob works on concrete problems usually encountered when translating Croatian literary texts. He will primarily use five sample texts, trying to systematize them and find similarities and differences between the original language and the language the texts are translated into.

The working group Polish-German lead by Olaf Kühl deals with translation issues by discussing the types of texts selected. With texts by Tomasz Rózycki, Sylwia Chutnik and Ignacy Karpowicz, the participants have selected authors that represent an extremely broad spectrum of styles. The objective of the workshops is to outline translation issues and possible ways of resolve them and thus advance the work done thereafter.

With her working group Czech-German Kristina Kallert will work on translating a text by Jan Balabán.

Here are some photos.


Exerpt from the report by Daniela Kocmut (Slovenian-German):

In the morning (5th of April) the common group work with the other workshops took place where the general and specific phenomenon of literary translation from Southeastern European languages into German were dealt with and discussed. The workshop leaders shared their professional experiences and the participants asked concrete questions to problems encountered when translating. A stimulating discussion was created during which many of these questions were answered in collaboration.

In the afternoon (5th of April) the fist individual group workshops took place which we initiated with an “icebreaker” activity during which the participants exchanged their experiences from the sample translation they worked on while applying for the project. They were instructed to write down their experiences on a copy on the following issues:

All of us have made the experience that… articles, play on words, general difficulties, proximity vs. distance

Two to three of us have made the experience that … particles, punctuation

One person made the experience that … poetic rhymes, creation of personal names, lexis, interjections

No one made the experience that…literary translation is boring

After that we collected the answers by the participants on a flipchart:


In order to introduce analysis of translations we addressed translations of poems by Maruša Kreses from the volume of poems called Yorkshire-Tasche [Yorkshire Bag] where we discussed and compared the AT with the ZT. In this discussion we also spoke about important issues concerning poetic translation and I have pointed out a few important factors which have to be taken into consideration when translating poems. Included is also general information such as for instance that one has to conduct research on the author and on the text itself, read reviews and should also be familiar with the biography before one starts to work (or at the latest when reworking the text if one does not want to be “prejudiced”).


Excerpt from the report by Matthias Jacob (Croatian-German):

All five workshop participants translated five passages from Croatian novels in preparation for the workshop. In an intensive joint reading, the versions of translated texts were compared and problems that surfaced discussed in detail while simultaneously trying to identify the specific translatory issues of the texts. In addition to the discussion in the plenum, mutual proofreading or editing was practiced. Since course participants came from Austria, Switzerland and Germany and we thus had the opportunity to discuss three variations of German, a surprisingly productive distancing effect was created, which became apparent especially in the oral presentations of the translated texts.


Kick-Off Event in Kiev

On 5th of April at 7:00 p.m. in Kiev an evening of literature, translation and music took place, where the prose writer Dzvinka Matijash, the translators Andy Jelčić, Yurko Prokhasko and Claudia Dathe as well as the author and editor Yurko Izdryk with his band Drumtiatr were part of the program.

The Literature and Translation Project TransStar Europe was Launched with a Kick-Off Event on April 5 in Kiev

by Maria Shubchyk

The great number of guests who participated in the kick-off activities in the venue hall of the Goethe Institute Ukraine was proof that the interest in the new project remains unbroken in Ukraine (the majority was made up of translators, journalists, professors, students and other actors on the literary stage in Ukraine ).

The purpose of the event was for participating project partners to have the opportunity to meet each other and also to present the project to a broader public. The audience was welcomed by Dr. Petra Köppel-Meyer (Acting Director of the Goethe Institute Ukraine) and by Prof. Taras Kyiak (National Taras Shevtshenko University).

The moderator of the event, Dr. Maria Ivanytska, in a brief introduction to the topic described the situation of Ukrainian literature and its translation in a European context and introduced three of the working groups (German-Ukrainian, Ukrainian-German and German-Croatian). The coordinator of the project, Claudia Dathe, summarized the overall concept and objectives of the project, providing a brief insight into the planned work within the framework of TransStar.

The guests were treated to a public discussion with the mentors of the translator groups Claudia Dathe, Andy Jelčić and Yurko Prokhasko. For the Ukrainian readers surely the opinion of the Croatian translator Andy Jelčić was very interesting. He spoke about how he personally chooses texts and authors and how he envisions the ideal reader. Also the reception of German-language literary works in Croatia was discussed. The same question was also posed to the Ukrainian translator Yurko Prokhasko, who already has acquainted the Ukrainian readership with a number of German-language authors.

Of course the audience was also very interested in finding out how Ukrainian literature is perceived abroad. Unfortunately not many translators into German are proficient in the Ukrainian language, but luckily Ukrainian literature is being popularized by those active in this area who have great enthusiasm. Like Claudia Dathe for instance, who has translated several Ukrainian works (e.g., by Serhiy Zhadan, Tanja Malyarchuk, recently also by Maria Matios ) into German. During the discussion Claudia had to answer rather provocative questions with respect to what the German-language reader expects from Ukrainian literature and whether it is considered to be part of European literature or whether it is rather considered to be exotic.

Ukrainian literature was presented firsthand from Dzwinka Matiyash and Yurko Izdryk, both authors. Creatively they are complete polar opposites: the calm and very deep prose of Dzvinka is an absolute contrast to the satirical and sometimes cynical written language style of Izdryk.

Texts can be expressed in a different manner and framed in a new way – this was demonstrated by the band Drumtiatr which consists of the writer Hryhorii Semenchuk, Yurko Izdryk, and Olexiy Gmyria. The audience was obviously thrilled by the interplay of words, visualizations and music.

The successful evening ended with a small buffet.

Here are some photos of the evening.


Kick-Off-Event in Tübingen


Eveline Passet: In the Mining Pit of Language. Translating the German Language

Can one say „Wowereit pays Juhnke condolences“? Why does a person who grew up in the Nazi-period possibly flinch at the word „schlagartig“ [promptly, suddenly]? How do I explain the German „tja“ to my foreign chat-partner? Why are nested sentences from the baroque era so difficult to read? And what generates the staccato sound in some contemporary texts?

Translators create new literary works in other languages: from the novel to the vernacular theater, from scientific treatise to correspondences and memoirs. The text is predetermined in the foreign language, and yet they themselves write. Which paths they find in order for works to arise in another language is something which Eveline Passet will demonstrate for the kick-off of the EU-funded project TransStar Europa via interesting episodes from the edited volume Im Bergwerk der Sprache [In the Mining Pit of Language].

Here are some photos of the evening.


Translating Cube in Prague, 3 – 6 June 2015


PROGRAMME (PDF) Translating Cube in Prague





Translating cube